University of Vermont

Office of the President - Academic Ceremonies

Academic Costume

The Academic Costume

Academic regalia worn today in U.S. colleges and universities is a survivor of the Middle Ages. The University of Vermont was among the first in this country to experiment with the use of academic gowns, requiring their wearing at the graduation of 1806. The experiment was not repeated until mid-century when UVM and other college began wholeheartedly to use the medieval scholar’s clothing for ceremonial occasions.

The code regulating the academic costume is administered by an intercollegiate commission that establishes uniform standards.

  • BACHELORS’ gowns have closed fronts and long, printed sleeves.

  • MASTERS’ gowns may be worn open or closed and have oblong sleeves open at the wrist, the lower portion hanging down with an arc near the bottom.

  • DOCTORS’ gowns may be open or closed and have velvet facings and three velvet bars on the round, open sleeves. The facing and bars may be of black or o the official colors of the wearer’s department of learning.

Hoods are usually black. All are lined in silk in the academic color or colors of the institution conferring the degree, with a chevron for additional colors. A University of Vermont hood is lined with green, with a gold chevron, the official school colors. The color of the hood border indicates the degree earned. 

The Black Mortarboard is worn for all degrees. Only Doctors’ caps may be made of velvet and only Doctors or Presidents of institutions may wear a gold tassel on the cap.

Last modified April 19 2010 05:42 PM

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