History and Traditions
The gowns and hoods worn on solemn academic occasions perpetuate traditions as old as the world's oldest universities. While European institutions display great diversity in the design and color of academic regalia, their American counterparts adopted a code of regulations that makes it possible for the academic community to identify -- from the cut of the gown and color of the hood -- the wearer's degree, the subject in which it was conferred, and the institution that granted it. In recent years many colleges and universities have departed from the traditional black and adopted official colors for their academic gowns. Thus, the blue gowns with gold chevrons worn by the president and trustees of Ithaca College display the official colors of our institution.
The cut of the gown identifies the degree: the bachelor's gown has pointed sleeves and is worn closed; the master's gown has oblong-cut sleeves slit at the elbow and is worn open or closed; the doctor's gown has bell-shaped sleeves, usually crossed with bands of velvet, and is also worn open or closed. The length of the hood also identifies the degree: 36 inches for a bachelor's, 42 inches for a master's, and 48 inches for a doctor's. The color of the hood's velvet binding identifies the wearer's specialized field of study. These colors include white for arts and letters, light brown for business, light blue for education, purple for law, lemon for library science, pink for music, sage green for physical education, blue for philosophy, gold for science, and red for theology.
The silk lining of the hood displays the color or colors of the institution awarding the degree. Earned and honorary degrees awarded by Ithaca College are shown by hoods lined in royal blue and crossed with gold chevrons.