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Academic regalia—an overview

Click here for low-resolution video from UD’s 155th Commencement. 

Click here for high-resolution video from UD’s 155th Commencement.

Click here for Commencement 2004 photo album.

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About UD’s 155th Commencement

Graduation numbers

Academic regalia

Why a mace?

Signs of the times

Commencements past
2:41 p.m., May 29, 2004--The caps, gowns and hoods worn at Commencement have particular significance. For example, each college has its own distinctive tassel color.

Academic regalia probably originated at Oxford and Cambridge universities in medieval times. In England and other European countries, academic attire is distinctive to each university, so there are diverse styles and a variety of colors.

In the United States, under the provisions of an intercollegiate agreement in 1895, the design of the cap, hood and gown are more standardized, indicating the level of the degree, while the color indicates the field of knowledge and the conferring institution.

The traditional mortarboard is the same for those earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Undergraduates wear the tassel on the right, switching it to the left when the degree is conferred. For those with doctoral degrees, the cap may be made of velvet, and the tassel may be gold.

The bachelor’s gown is designed with full sleeves. The sleeves of the master’s gown are closed at the base and slit at the elbow, leaving the forearm uncovered. The doctoral gown has bell-shaped sleeves with velvet bars and is faced with velvet around the collar and down the front edges.

Hoods, representing the three levels of degrees, differ in size. Many universities, including Delaware, use hoods only for master’s and doctoral degrees. The colors of the hood lining represent the institution. For example, the University of Delaware hood colors are blue and gold. The color of the hood’s velvet border indicates the academic discipline.

Photo by Kathy Atkinson

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