Medieval scholars dressed similarly to members of the clergy, hence the long gowns. (They were probably good for fighting cold temperatures, too!) The tradition continued, turning into standards for all academics. While most gowns are black, the differences in the level of scholarship achieved by the wearers can be determined by looking at the sleeves:
- Associate's and Bachelor's degrees = pointed sleeves
- Master's degree = oblong sleeves
- Doctoral degree = bell-shaped sleeves.
When it comes to gown trimmings, only doctoral gowns have the distinction of being trimmed in velvet down the front of the gown, in addition to three vertical velvet stripes across the sleeves.
While graduation hoods are traditionally worn by master's and doctoral degree candidates, some schools also dress their bachelor's degree candidates in hoods. There are differences in the hood length:
- Associate's and Bachelor's degrees = 3 feet long
- Master's degrees = 3.5 feet long
- Doctoral degrees = 4 feet long.
Hoods are lined in various colors. The school colors of the graduate's university comprise one stripe, while the other stripe represents the discipline in which the degree is being granted:
Agriculture -- Maize
Nursing -- Apricot
Although Northampton Community College does not require its graduates to wear hoods, if they did, the hood would have no velvet stripe, but would have our school's colors on the satin lining. Enjoy your day and follow tradition by tossing your cap into the air when graduation is finished!
Sullivan, Eugene. "An Academic Costume Code and An Academic Ceremony Guide." American Council on Education. 2008. 18 December 2008. http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Search&template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=32494>.