When you attend graduate school, you’ll likely wear regalia. Doctoral regalia is more elaborate, with a five-inch velvet panel down the front and three velvet bars on the sleeve that you can buy in an academic regalia sale. These details indicate the degree and academic discipline earned. However, there are other types of academic regalias. Here’s their significance:


What is academic regalia? These are the formal garments worn by students and faculty during academic ceremonies. They are worn over the graduation gown. Academic regalia originated from the ensemble worn by a Church minister during religious celebrations. This ritual has become a tradition at many universities and schools worldwide. Read on to discover the history of academic regalia and its meaning.

Graduates of different degrees wear academic regalia. It consists of a gown and cap, which graduates wear. These garments differ depending on the degree awarded and the level of scholarship. Bachelor’s gowns are modest and simple, while Master’s robes are longer. The doctoral robe is the most formal and typically contains three stripes on the arms and a hood. Each type of regalia has a specific meaning.


The importance of academic regalia is apparent in college commencement ceremonies. Faculty wear their graduation regalia to signal their academic status and add to the prestige of commencement ceremonies. The hood for the Master’s degree is approximately three feet long, with thick velvet trim. A white tam with a crimson tassel is also worn, while the doctoral hood is longer and carries a gold tassel.

Academic regalia originated in medieval European universities, where wearing academic robes as part of everyday life. In addition, they served as reminders of the individual’s position within the academic community. Today, most American colleges and universities adopt the cap, gown, and hood, though the doctoral robe may be trimmed in scarlet chevrons and feature a distinctive degree color. 



The origins of academic regalia are murky but are believed to date centuries. Clergymen founded early universities, and faculty members wore the habit of their Order while teaching. It became a symbol of the university and was rarely worn by laymen. The tradition of wearing academic regalia is believed to have originated in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This period was marked by clerical dress, and laymen were seldom accustomed to seeing lecturers in universities. In addition to showing the students that they are a member of the clergy, academic regalia is often worn to commemorate the end of a successful school year.

The first academic dress dates back to the Middle Ages in the early Middle Ages. It closely resembled that worn by medieval clerics. In cold, stone buildings, academic clothing was worn by all students. In addition, these students wore long robes to keep warm. In modern times, academic dress is rarely worn outside of Commencement ceremonies, but it was a common custom for scholars to wear it to class.


Academic regalia come in different colors to distinguish the disciplines and degrees. The degree-granting institution usually decides the colors chosen for hoods and chevrons, but they can vary as many as two shades. Generally, academic regalia is white, black, or red, though there are a few exceptions to this rule. The colors of academic regalia are usually displayed on the hoods, chevrons, and field lining.

Academic regalia originated in monasteries. In medieval Europe, faculty members of universities were men of religion, and the habit of an Order was worn when teaching, becoming a university symbol. Not until the nineteenth century did laymen start attending universities. While British law made dons of universities do not have to be members of a holy order, professors continued to wear monastic garb. This tradition continues today in the United States.


The tassel on a doctorate is a distinctive and colorful feature of an academic gown. Tassels are worn on the left side of the cap, indicating the graduate has attained an academic degree. In addition, a doctorate gown has voluminous sleeves, velvet chevrons, and royal blue facing along the front openings. The doctorate hood is typically attached to the gown with Velcro or safety pins.

A tassel on a mortarboard indicates the discipline the graduate has studied. Doctoral degree recipients wear a gold bullion tassel. Bachelor’s degree graduates, however, do not wear a hood. Tassels on doctoral and Master’s degrees represent the university and field of study. These regalia are considered symbols of academic pride and are worn for special occasions. Tassels on academic regalia are also part of the hoods and gowns of university graduates.