Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Commencement This Saturday!

Congratulations to those students who finished their coursework in December and are graduating from NCC tomorrow! You've worked very hard for your degrees and specialized certificates -- enjoy the day and celebrate! You'll find that, in addition to your classmates wearing graduation robes, your professors will be dressed in their academic regalia as well. Do you know the significance of the robes, hoods and caps?

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

Arts, Letters, Humanities -- White

Commerce, Accountancy, Business -- Drab

Dentistry -- Lilac

Economics -- Copper

Education -- Light Blue

Engineering -- Orange

Fine Arts, including Architecture -- Brown

Forestry, including Environmental Studies -- Russet

Journalism -- Crimson

Law -- Purple

Library Science -- Lemon

Medicine -- Green

Music -- Pink

Nursing -- Apricot

Oratory (Speech) -- Silver Gray

Pharmacy -- Olive Green

Philosophy -- Dark Blue

Physical Education -- Sage Green

Public Administration, including Foreign Service -- Peacock Blue

Public Health -- Salmon Pink

Science -- Golden Yellow

Social Work -- Citron

Theology -- Scarlet

Veterinary Science -- Gray.

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!

Work cited:

Sullivan, Eugene. "An Academic Costume Code and An Academic Ceremony Guide." American Council on Education. 2008. 18 December 2008.>.

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