The term “Academic regalia” for faculty members of a college or university can have several meanings. The academic robe, hood length and hood color collectively signify the level of education and field of study that a faculty member will wear. Some colleges and universities also choose to add their own institutional seal on robes, or they have distinct colors outside of the standard-issue black robe. Faculty who have received dual degrees for their highest level of education must choose a single color to represent them on their academic regalia. Faculty and student academic regalia are identical; unlike student regalia, however, faculty adornments generally do not include honor chords or stoles.
Academic Robe Lengths and Trimmings
Academic robes are also referred to as gowns, and are different from each other, depending on the faculty member's level of education. The American Council on Education notes that robes for faculty members with master's degrees have oblong-shaped sleeves like a rectangle or oval. Master’s robes do not have trimmings or borders. Doctoral robes have bell-shaped sleeves and velvet panels on the front and on each arm of the robe. Three rectangular panels of equal length align the outside of both arms, with a velvet panel the length of the gown's front is on either side of the zipper. Faculty members may wear their doctoral or master’s robes open or closed.
Robe and Paneling Colors
Robe colors are generally black for faculty, regardless of the degree level or majors; however, certain institutions prefer to use school colors for their robes and caps. Stanford University notes in their academic regalia fact page that their university has a red and black robe, while the University of William and Mary provides a green robe for doctoral students. As such, faculty who attended schools where the institution designated a color other than black, may have colored robes. Colors for the velvet paneling are dependent upon the type of degree or field of study. For example, faculty who hold a Ph.D. degree have royal blue coloring, while faculty with an Ed. D. degree have sky blue. Those faculty who are holding a law degree – which is a juris doctor degree -- don purple and faculty who have medical degrees, such as an M.D., wear green.
The academic hood also varies by degree and field of study. Faculty members who hold a master’s degree will wear hoods that are 3 1/2 feet long, while faculty members who hold doctoral degrees will have a 4-foot long hood. Consisting of three colors, the outside of the hood is always black. The hood is trimmed in a specific color according to the field of study. For example, lilac would denote a faculty member who studied dentistry, while pink would represent faculty who studied music. The interior lining of the hood -- or the inside of the hood -- denotes the school color of the faculty member's degree granting institution. Many institutions have similar school colors.
Academic caps complete the regalia. The caps are also referred to as tams for faculty who have doctoral degrees. Non-doctoral faculty members wear caps that are square and flat-topped, which are known as mortarboards, and are made from the same material as the robe. Doctoral caps for faculty can either be square mortarboards or 4- or 6-sided velvet tams. Faculty with Ph.D. degrees may wear the customary Ph.D. royal blue for their tam color or standard black, whereas other faculty with doctoral degrees wear tams in black velvet. Tassels may be worn in gold for faculty with Ph.D. degrees and in the color representing their specific subject for other faculty with doctorates. Non-doctoral faculty wear tassels that are standard black.
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