An Explanation of Academic Dress
Academic costumes date back to the 11th and 12th centuries to the first organized institutions of learning in Europe. In 1895, the academic institutions in the U.S. adopted a code of academic dress, which gave this country a beautiful and impressive method of signifying scholastic honors. With the exception of revisions in 1932 and 1959, the code has been virtually unchanged since its inception.
The gown is derived from early medieval civilian dress, which was modified at Oxford and Cambridge to fit monastic and ecclesiastical purposes. A long gown, closed in the front like the Benedictine habit, was considered decent attire for clerks and students.
The doctor's gown is fuller than the baccalaureate or masters gowns and has full-length velvet panels on the front and three velvet crossbars on each sleeve. The crossbars may be black or of a color relating to the field in which the degree is awarded. The medical doctor's crossbars are green.
The gown is generally black, but the doctor's may be of a color representing the institution that conferred the degree.
The squared cap was adopted for university use after 1520, in imitation of a custom at the University of Paris. It was a modified version of headgear worn by the public. The academic gold tassel represents tuft hunting, or thrusting oneself into the society of one's superiors.
Use of the gold tassel was at one time limited to noblemen. Today the tassel is normally worn in the left front quadrant of the cap and of a color appropriate to the subject of the degree. The medical doctor's tassel is green.
The hood was derived from the everyday mantle worn by medieval clergy. It is draped over the shoulders and down the back and indicates both the institution granting the degree and the academic area of specialization.
The silk lining of the hood represents the colors of the institution; the higher the degree, the more lining is revealed. The length of the hood and width of the velvet edging designate the level of degree. The medical doctor's hood is green.
Caps and gowns may be obtained from the Nevada Wolf Shop housed in the Joe Crowley Student Union during the six-week period before graduation.