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Why Are Collegiate Hoods Worn?

The world of college traditions can be almost mystical. From fraternity traditions to campus-specific traditions such as walking through the Spelman arch on graduation day, a sense of tradition is important. A common tradition in universities across the country is to wear certain garb on graduation day. So why are collegiate hoods worn? Let's take a close look at this matter.

The first instances of people wearing caps, gowns, and hoods date all the way back to the 12th century when monks and scholars would wear them to signify they were dedicated to their studies. While they were worn on a regular basis by this special section of society, hoods weren't part of the regular graduation ceremony until the 1920s. Commonly worn by faculty to signify their highest degree and even their academic department, these hoods are also worn by students when they graduate at a master's degree or higher education level.

The color of the hood a student will wear will depend on their program. For instance, an arts program graduate may wear white hoods whereas the journalism graduate wears crimson. The color will vary from school to school. The look of the hood will also differ from the faculty as well. For example, if you are graduating from a masters or doctoral program, the hood will be the same color as the faculty members, but the faculty members will have panels on the side of theirs to distinguish them between faculty and newly graduated students. It is important to note that if a student is graduating in dual departments, it isn't advisable to wear both hoods because it will look sloppy and a student should choose a primary department and wear the corresponding hood.

Many people wonder why bachelor's degree graduates wear only a cap and gown at graduation as opposed to the hood. The hood is only worn by those completing advanced studies in most schools which is why it is a way to show honor and distinction from the rest of the graduating class.