|Arts and Letter
||Dark Blue or Black
Above is a partial list of hood and tassel colors established by the American Council on Education to represent various fields of learning.
Distinctive academic dress can be traced back to the universities of the Middle Ages. In the early centuries of its existence, the costume was worn as daily garb, and the several parts had practical uses. In more recent centuries, its use in complete form has been reserved for special ceremonial occasions.
Of the costume’s three components, the hood is the most interesting. Originally it had three uses: as a head covering, as a shoulder cape, and as a bag in which alms could be collected. It is mentioned as early as 1480 in clerical literature. When large wigs were in vogue in England, the cape part of the hood was split in front and a narrow neckband inserted. The entire cape and hood were allowed to fall back as they do today, and the hood was never restored to its original style. Black academic robes are appropriate to all degrees and all institutions. Graduates of some schools, however, may elect to wear robe colors adopted by their alma maters-for example, Harvard crimson, Yale blue, Stanford cardinal. Red may be worn for ceremonial purposes, as by a president. Three black stripes on the sleeve denote a doctorate.
There is historical evidence to suggest that the Mortarboard originated with the 16th Century Protestant Reformer, John Calvin. The university building where Calvin taught, at the Cathedral Church in Geneva, was not yet completed and was without windows. Accordingly, he designed the hat for his teaching in order to protect his head from the pigeons that cohabited the buildings.
Black tassels are correct for all degrees, but colored tassels also may be worn. Gold metallic tassels may be worn by persons with doctorates and by dignitaries.