Academic Costumes

Curious about what colors and other academic costume details symbolize? Read on!


The gown for the bachelor's degree has pointed sleeves, with no trimming, and is worn closed.

The gown for the master's degree has oblong sleeves, open at the wrist, with the rear part of its oblong sleeve square cut, and is worn open or closed.

The gown for the doctorate degree has bell-shaped sleeves and is faced down the front with velvet and three bars across the sleeves. The facing and crossbars of velvet may be of the color distinctive of the field to which the degree pertains.

For all academic purposes, the trimming colors of doctors' gowns, edgings of hoods and tassels of caps are associated with different disciplines (areas of study).

Only a single degree from a single institution should ever be indicated by a single garment.


The length of the hood worn for the bachelor's degree is 3 feet, for the master's degree, 3½ feet, and for the doctoral degree, 4 feet. The doctoral degree has side panels. The linings of the hood represent the official color of the college or university conferring the degree. The binding or edging of the hood is 2 inches, 3 inches and 5 inches for the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, respectively. The color is distinctive of the degree held by the wearer.


The cap or mortarboard has a tassel fastened to the middle of the cap. Wearing over the left side indicates the completion of a degree. The doctoral cap is indicated by a tassel of gold thread.

Prepared by a Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies appointed by the American Council on Education, 1960