Traditional vs. Shield Style Hoods
There are essentially three components of a shield cut hood: a cording or binding in a color specific to the degree (for example, white might be the chosen color for an arts major), the institution’s colors featured on the chevron, and a field of black on the hood. This is technically an associate’s degree hood, and it’s the preferred style of most higher learning institutions in the country.
Like the shield cut, a traditional “bachelor’s style” cut features a degree-specific color of cording or binding, and a nod to the institution’s colors. The main differences are where these colors appear—the cording can be seen where the shell meets the lining; the lining is often the part that shows the institution colors.
A more widely used style, the traditional doctoral cut hood features a black shell with velvet trim that hangs around the neck and shoulders, then extends down the back. Inside the shell, a satin lining shows the institution’s colors.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the traditional styles, but the updated shield cut mitigates a timeless issue: improper draping of the hood. Because the velvet drapes to a point after winding around the neck and shoulders, featuring exposed satin lining at the tip of that point, there’s little margin for error with this style. Colleges and universities willing to break with tradition have been the most welcoming of the shield style as part of a unique doctoral design.
Additional Hood Specifications
Hoods must be equipped with a lining that features the official colors of the institution conferring the degree; if more than one color is shown in the field, it will be divided with one or more chevrons. The pattern used on the hoods must be approved by the American Council on Education.
Souvenir quality hoods are intended to be kept by students following the graduation ceremony; for the sake of economy, the lining of these hoods is generally the same fabric as the shell. Likewise, velvet is swapped out for velveteen colored trim in these instances.
As outlined in the chart below, the trim color should indicate which degree subject a student is receiving. To be clear, a student receiving a Master of Science in Education should wear a hood trimmed with light blue as this color represents education, not yellow (which represents science).
No hood should feature a divided trim in an effort to represent multiple degrees or subjects. Instead, many institutions have simplified the process by not recognizing certain disciplines with a specific hood color, and rather categorizing them based on larger disciplines. For example, journalism graduates might wear white trim when graduating with their Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (since white represents arts and letters) as opposed to the specific trim color of crimson for journalism.
Understanding The Academic Hood
The color-coded system of hoods is critical to academic regalia as it identifies the degree and institution of the wearer. Oddly enough, graduation hoods are also the most misunderstood and improperly worn piece of graduate paraphernalia.