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Top 10 Collegiate Regalia

Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff

March 21, 2012
Filed Under Education 

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A list of the top ten collegiate regaliaContributed by Paul Seaburn, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru

Graduating from college wouldn’t be as much fun if you didn’t get to dress up in that out outfit known as the cap-and-gown.

Graduation regalia began at the first European universities in the 11th and 12th centuries, but the regalia graduates wear today most closely resembles that of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the most famous colleges in England. Each piece has a history and a meaning in the ceremony. Let’s look at the ten most popular forms of collegiate regalia.


10. Bachelor’s gown

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

When medieval professors and students began organizing into guilds, the apprentices were what would eventually become the bachelors of arts. Bachelor’s gowns are worn closed and have pointed sleeves. They’re mid-calf to ankle-length and are black.

9. Master’s Gown

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

Medieval teachers became the Masters of Art. Master’s graduation gowns are black and can be worn open or closed. The sleeves are oblong with open ends at the wrist, the rear of the oblong cut square and the front arc cut away.

8. Doctoral Gown

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

Doctoral graduates wear gowns that are open or closed and bear velvet stripes on the arms and chest in the traditional colors indicating their field of study, such as crimson for communication or orange for engineering. The sleeves are bell-shaped and the doctoral gowns are usually black, but some colleges prefer the color of the school.

7. Hood

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

The graduation hood was originally a real hoodie to protect the head of the graduate, but today’s graduation hood is decorative and often almost as long as the robe. The body of the hood matches the robe while the velvet matches the color of the field of study. Hoods are awarded to master’s and doctoral graduates and are traditionally worn when they attend other ceremonies.

6. Mortarboard

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

The graduation mortarboard evolved from the three-peaked biretta worn by clergy members and was flattened to distinguish it as an academic hat. The material matches the gown although doctoral mortarboards can be velvet. The four-sided square mortarboard is generally black and often tossed in the air at the end of the commencement ceremony.

5. Tam

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

Some schools award doctoral graduates with a velvet four-, six-, or eight-sided black tam. They usually have a ribbon and buttons and are worn poofed up rather than flat.

4. Tassel

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

Both graduation mortarboards and tams have tassels fastened to a button or sewn to the center. They were traditionally black but now are any color, usually the school color, the field of study color or gold for doctoral graduates. Moving the tassel from one side to the other is a traditional sign of graduation.

3. Honor Cord

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

Honor cords are awarded to graduates for academic achievement or to members of honor societies. They are twisted cords with tassels on the ends and sometimes come in pairs with a knot in the middle. Unlike hoods and tassels, honor cords are one form of collegiate regalia that graduates can wear more than one of.

2. Stole

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

Some schools award academic stoles instead of honor cords for achievement. The graduation stole resembles a long flat scarf and is worn around the neck and hanging down in front.

1. Medallions

A list of the top ten collegiate regalia

Academic medals and medallions can symbolize academic achievement or membership in an organization. Most often they are worn on their gowns during commencement ceremonies by officers of the college, such as the president. Once they leave the position, they’re no longer entitled to wear the medals.



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