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Purposes of Doctoral Regalia

The use of doctoral regalia goes back many centuries and, while it was at one point thought to be merely a practical matter, has over time grown to be a highly ritualized form of dress. Not only does it serve the important purpose of signifying one’s own progress through academia; it also recalls the many years and people who have come before to build the foundation on which academic achievement grows.


Origins of Doctoral Regalia


The doctoral cap and gown, while not having official documentation to demonstrate its precise first use, has been dated back to around the twelfth century and formation of the first European universities. These institutes of higher learning didn’t have established campuses at the time, and were often no more than a collection of scholars dedicated to a particular field of study, so in many cases they would meet for class in nearby churches. The gowns are thought to have derived from robes worn for warmth in the usually unheated buildings, or possibly from clerical robes, since many early academics were studying to join the Church.


As time went on, variations on the robes were designed in order to differentiate the various levels of academic achievement from one another. This movement up a hierarchy of academic ranks is also where we get the modern term “graduation.”


Though European universities to this day have no standardized rules for doctoral regalia, American institutions established the Intercollegiate Commission in 1895 in order to create a distinct look for academic levels, especially doctors of various specialties. The Intercollegiate Code lays out very carefully what is and is not allowed.


Variations and Specifications


There are a number of things that only those who have achieved the doctoral level are allowed to wear, and this is to mark them out for their accomplishment. For example, doctoral robes always have bell sleeves and velvet on the panels, something that bachelor and master gowns are not allowed.


Headgear is looser in its interpretation. Initially, six-, eight-, or twelve-point tams were the sole province of the doctor, though due to changes in the Intercollegiate Code in 1986, now professors with Masters degrees are allowed to wear them as well rather than the traditional mortarboard. Hoods, on the other hand, are allowed only for doctors, as are various colors of stripes to indicate their academic specialty.


GraduationMall can help you navigate these often complex rules and get the type of gown that you need. You can also be sure that the quality will match your accomplishment, because we manufacture our own stock.


Whatever you require in terms of doctoral regalia, you can be sure that GraduationMall will have it.