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About Academic Hoods for Graduation

Academic hoods trace their history back to the medieval time period. There were colorful silk hoods and fur-lined hoods that were worn by academics in the 16th century. They became associated with learned people since hoods had mostly fallen out of fashion after window glazing became common among laymen in the 15th century.

The length and shape of the hood itself are designed to show the level of education the wearer has received. For example, a bachelor’s hood has a “simple” design, meaning it only has a cow and liripipe (tail,) and was only three feet in length. The master’s hood, was similar, but had a liripipe of four feet in length. Due to its high cost and low prestige, it was often omitted from academic dress – a tradition that continues today.

Standardizing Graduation Hoods

The Intercollegiate Code was one of the first documents used to standardize academic hoods. It initially stated that the hood should be edged with either stain, silk or velvet – in a special color that would show the degree title of the wearer, as it appears on their diploma.

This lining was originally intended to be no wider than six inches. However, over time some major universities stipulated a width of no more than four inches. Below shows the standard velvet sizes.

We have adopted these standards. Velvet is the most often-used material, as it provided a good contrast to the softer, silken material and complemented other design aspects of the doctoral gown.

However, as there were hundreds of different educational institutions in the US, it became difficult to assign a unique lining pattern for the hood.

For all academic purposes, including trimmings of doctors' gowns, edging of hoods, and tassels of caps, the colors associated with the different disciplines are as follows:

Degree Color
Agriculture Maize
Arts, Letters, Humanities White
Commerce, Accountancy, Business Drab
Dentistry Lilac
Economics Copper
Education Light Blue
Engineering Orange
Fine Arts, including Architecture Brown
Forestry Russet
Journalisme Crimson
Law Purple
Library Science Lemon
Medicine Green
Music Pink
Nursing Apricot
Oratory (Speech) Silver Gray
Pharmacy Olive Green
Philosophy Dark Blue
Physical Education Sage Green
Public Administration, including Foreign Service Peacock Blue
Public Health Salmon Pink
Science Golden Yellow
Social Work Citron
Theology Scarlet
Veterinary Science Gray