The wearing of academic dress dates back to the early days of the oldest universities in the world. In the American Council on Education’s book entitled American Universities and Colleges, it is suggested that “Gowns may have been counted necessary for warmth in the unheated buildings frequented by medieval scholars. Hoods seem to have served to cover the tonsured head. . . .”
Throughout the years, European universities have shown great diversity in their academic dress. American universities, on the other hand, when they decided to adopt academic dress, immediately established a code of regulations that today is followed by almost all American institutions. This code has made it possible to distinguish the bachelors, masters, and doctors and, at the same time, recognize the university that has given them the degree.
Gowns: The bachelor’s gown has pointed sleeves and is worn closed. The master’s gown, worn open or closed, has oblong sleeves, the front part of which frequently is cut away at the elbow. The doctor’s gown has bell-shaped sleeves. It is worn open or closed.
At Rutgers, members of the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees, as well as those who hold a doctoral degree from the university, wear the Rutgers gown, which is scarlet with black velvet front panels framed on the outer edge with gold cord braid. The velvet panels are embroidered with a crown and the year 1766 at the neck, signifying the university’s founding as one of the original colonial colleges under King George III of England.
Hoods: The hoods vary in size: 48 inches for the doctor’s degree, 42 inches for the master’s, and 36 inches for the bachelor’s. All hoods are lined in silk in the academic color or colors of the institution conferring the degree. If the institution has more than one color, the colors are shown in divisions using chevrons.
Below is a list of some of the faculty colors as prescribed by the Intercollegiate Code for the binding of the hood:
- Agriculture / Maize
- Arts, Letters, Humanities / White
- Business Administration, Commerce / Drab
- City and Regional Planning / Brown
- Communication and Information Studies / Gray
- Dentistry / Lilac
- Economics / Copper
- Education / Light Blue
- Engineering / Orange
- Fine Arts, Architecture / Brown
- Human Resources Management / Dusk
- Journalism / Dark Crimson
- Labor and Employment Relations / Peacock Blue
- Law / Purple
- Library Service / Lemon
- Medicine / Green
- Music / Pink
- Nursing / Apricot
- Oratory-Speech / Silver Gray
- Pharmacy / Olive Green
- Philosophy / Blue
- Physical Education / Sage Green
- Public Administration / Peacock Blue
- Public Health / Salmon Pink
- Science / Golden Yellow
- Social Service / Citron
- Theology and Divinity / Scarlet
The color or colors of the lining of the hood for the nine colonial colleges are: scarlet, Rutgers; crimson, Harvard; green-gold-silver, William and Mary; blue, Yale; red-blue, Pennsylvania; orange-black, Princeton; light blue-white, Columbia; brown, Brown; and green-white, Dartmouth.
Caps: Black mortarboards or soft hats are worn for all degrees. The gold tassel signifies a doctoral degree.