Plymouth State University
Academic Regalia

Academic Regalia

The marshal carries the University mace, a symbol of authority and unity. The tradition of the academic mace began in the late 14th century when two ancient instruments, the royal scepter and the battle mace, were combined to form a symbol of authority of the rector of a university. Today the academic mace, along with the presidential medallion, signifies that the president of the university is the temporary embodiment of the power, authority and autonomy vested in the institution.

The faculty marshal carries the academic mace at public events such as commencement exercises and convocations as a symbol of the special stewardship, authority, and trust reposed in the faculty for the curriculum and academic affairs of the university. The PSU mace, created for the May 2004 commencement, was designed and created by Philip Lonergan, associate professor of art. The caps, gowns, and hoods seen today have evolved from costumes worn during early religious processions to distinguish church and university members from the laity. In present times, the attire serves to indicate, by style and adornment, the chief academic degree attained, the major field of study, and the college or university attended by the wearer.

The modern academic costume worn in the United States is based on an intercollegiate code established in 1895. Most gowns are black, but more American colleges and universities now permit the wearing of college colors. The associate’s gown and the bachelor’s gown are the same. They have long, pointed sleeves; are untrimmed, and are worn closed. The master’s gown, worn either open or closed, has long, crescent-shaped sleeves. The doctor’s gown has velvet panels down the front and around the neck, and velvet bars on the bell-shaped sleeves. The velvet is black or the color of the wearer’s major field of study.

The customary head covering is either the mortarboard or the Oxford cap. The tassel on the mortarboard cap may be black or of a color indicating the degree. The doctor’s tassel is usually gold in color. The tassel is worn over the left front quarter of the mortarboard once the degree has been awarded.

The hood, which drapes over the back of the gown, carries the greatest symbolism of all the components of the academic costume, and dates back to the 12th century when it was intended as a head cover or shoulder cape. Its length and width denote the wearer’s highest academic achievement. The color of the velvet trim reveals the wearer’s major field of study, as listed below. Linings, which are exposed in the center of the hood as it lies over the back of the gown, indicate the colors of the degree-granting institution. Those who hold more than one academic degree may wear only one hood at a time.

The colors denoting specific academic fields, as established by the American Council on Education, include:

  • AGRICULTURE Maize
  • ARTS, LETTERS, HUMANITIES White
  • BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Drab
  • DENTISTRY Lilac
  • ECONOMICS Copper
  • EDUCATION Light blue
  • ENGINEERING Orange
  • FINE ARTS Brown
  • FORESTRY Russet
  • HOME ECONOMICS Maroon
  • JOURNALISM Crimson
  • LAW Purple
  • LIBRARY SCIENCE Lemon
  • MEDICINE Green
  • MUSIC Pink
  • NURSING Apricot
  • OPTOMETRY Sea foam green
  • ORATORY (SPEECH) Silver gray
  • PHARMACY Olive
  • PHILOSOPHY Blue
  • PHYSICAL EDUCATION Sage green
  • PODIATRY-CHIROPODY Nile green
  • PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Peacock blue
  • PUBLIC HEALTH Salmon
  • SCIENCE Golden yellow
  • SOCIAL WORK Citron
  • SOCIAL SCIENCE Citron
  • THEOLOGY Scarlet
  • VETERINARY SCIENCE Gray

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Plymouth State University, 17 High Street, Plymouth, NH 03264-1595. Main Switchboard: (603) 535-5000.
A member of the University System of New Hampshire. ©2005-2008. All rights reserved.
This page was last revised: 4/18/2007