History of Academic Dress
Academic Dress and Customs
The origin of academic dress goes back to the founding of the European universities, which were the products of the intellectual revival of the twelfth century. All medieval students were clerks and consequently wore the dress of secular clergy. This is the academic costume worn today, with certain changes introduced in the sixteenth century by Protestant reformers, who associated academic habits with popery and superstition and accordingly were inclined toward the adoption of civilian gowns. The oldest articles of academic wear were the robe, a loose gown, over which was worn the habit, usually a kind of tunic with short, wide sleeves. The medieval hood was lined with fur of inexpensive skins and could be gathered around the neck or pulled up on the head as a turban. There were three kinds of caps: the round cap, reserved for doctoral dignity; the tena, a round cap with strings that were tied under the chin, worn by jurists; and the square cap. At Oxford University in 1565 the square cap became obligatory, but the faculties that had become laicized adopted the Tudor bonnet. This is still worn by doctors of law, medicine and music. It is uncertain when different colors became associated with different degrees.
The basic design of all academic costume in the United States was established in 1895 and was first used at Emory by the class of 1902. There are three types of gowns, three styles of hoods, and two kinds of cap tassels included in American academic costume. The bachelor's gown is without ornamentation and has long, pointed open sleeves; the master's gown is similar but has even longer sleeves, which are closed at the bottom (with openings about midway for the hands). The doctor's gown has full-length lapels of velvet and bell-shaped sleeves with three horizontal velvet bars. Tassels for bachelors and masters are black; tassels of gold thread may be worn by doctors. Gowns and caps are usually black, although Emory and other schools have specified that their doctors may wear gowns of distinctive colors. Yale's deep blue doctoral gown, Harvard's crimson, Columbia's dark blue, and Emory's blue and gold are a few that may be seen in the procession. Most of the other colorful gowns and the unusual caps are from universities abroad.
The hood varies for the respective degrees, the doctor's hood being longer and fuller than the others. The major field of study can be determined from the velvet facing on the hood according to the following color scheme: white, the arts; gold-yellow, science; purple, law; apricot, nursing; green, medicine; sapphire, business; scarlet, theology; salmon, public health; light blue, education; and dark blue, doctors of philosophy. The hood is lined with silk in the colors of the institution that granted the degree. For Emory graduates, the lining is blue with a chevron of gold.
The president of Emory University wears a special gown of blue and gold, symbolic of his office. The president also wears a badge of office given to the University in 1965 by the Emory Chapter, Gamma of Georgia, of Phi Beta Kappa. Designed by Eric Clements of Birmingham, England, and executed by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London, the solid gold badge is an open teardrop enclosing the raised seal of the University and is suspended on a gold chain.