The caps, gowns and hoods worn at college and university occasions date back to the formation of universities in Europe around the 12th century. The ordinary dress of the scholar, whether student or teacher, was the dress of clergy. Historians suggest that gowns and hoods were the best way to stay warm in the unheated buildings that housed medieval scholars. The gowns used in American academic ceremonies vary according to the highest degree awarded to the wearer.

The Degree Candidates

Bachelor’s Degrees
Candidates for the bachelor’s degree wear a gown that falls to the knee, has a closed front and long, pointed, open sleeves. Candidates wear black mortarboard caps with black tassels. All candidates for first degrees wear the tassel on the right side of the cap until the degree has been conferred.

Master’s Degrees
Candidates for master’s degrees wear a gown with a closed front with oblong sleeves, open at the wrist. Candidates wear black mortarboard caps with black tassels.

The Hood
At CNU, graduates wear a hood lined in blue silk with a silver chevron. The binding or edging of the hood is velvet, two inches wide for the bachelor’s degree and three inches for the master’s degree. The color of the border signifies the degree granted by Christopher Newport University:

Bachelor of arts White
Bachelor of music Pink
Bachelor of science Golden yellow
Bachelor of science in business administration Drab
Bachelor of science in information science Gold
Master of arts in teaching Light blue
Master of science Golden yellow


The Faculty
Faculty members wear regalia that represent their disciplines and the institution of higher learning that granted their degree(s). The doctor’s gown has an open front and large, bell-shaped sleeves with three velvet bars (black, but sometimes in discipline colors). Doctor’s caps may be made of velvet and may have tassels of gold or other color symbolizing the wearer’s degree. Hood linings, edges and chevrons represent the field in which the degree was granted:

Agriculture Maize
Arts, letters and humanities White
Business Drab
Dentistry Lilac
Economics Copper
Education Light blue
Engineering Orange
Fine arts and architecture Brown
Forestry Russet
Journalism Crimson
Law Purple
Library science Lemon yellow
Medicine Green
Music Pink
Nursing Apricot
Oratory (speech) Silver gray
Pharmacy Olive green
Philosophy Dark blue
Physical education Sage green
Political science Citron-light yellow
Public administration, including foreign service Peacock blue
Public health Salmon pink
Science Golden yellow
Social work Citron yellow
Theology Scarlet
Veterinary science Gray