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Academic institutions throughout the world have created a wide variety of customs, including distinctive dress, color, and ceremony to indicate the accomplishments of scholars. English traditions originating at Oxford and Cambridge led to the development of American academic regalia.

By the twentieth century, institutions of higher learning in the United States had adopted a well-defined code of academic costume—the regalia—which now includes the identification of the different academic degrees by distinctive gowns, hoods, and colors.

For instance, the baccalaureate gown is worn closed and is identified by long, pleated front panels and long, pointed sleeves. The master's gown has very long sleeves, closed at the bottom, and the arms of the wearer are placed through an opening in the front of the sleeves. Doctoral gowns may be worn open, and they are distinguished by velvet panels around the neck and down the front of the gown. Three horizontal black velvet bars, of the color representing the wearer's degree, also mark the doctorate.

In America, the hood is the most colorful feature of academic regalia. The bachelor's hood, when worn, is comparatively short; the master's, a bit longer; and the doctoral, at four feet, reaches far down the wearer's back. The outside of the hood is black and is bordered with a two-, three- or five-inch band of velvet in the color representing the degree received, and the hood is lined with the colors of the granting institution. Official guests of the University and members of the Board of Regents wear the doctoral gown with the blue of Philosophy on the front and hood.

Regalia is worn by members of the University at formal occasions. Faculty and graduating students wear regalia at commencement, and faculty and staff are encouraged to wear their regalia at WSU's Convocation.

WSU staff and faculty can request regalia free of charge and sign up to join the processional on our For Faculty page. Faculty may also be able to obtain regalia through their departments. Please note: regalia must be returned at the conclusion of convocation.