Identification of the hood and robe as academic apparel is believed to have originated at the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge during the 12th and 13th centuries. The hoods are a carryover from the times when monks, who operated these universities, wore them to protect their shaved heads in the winter. The robe is an adaptation of the shoulder cape also worn by these same monks while collecting alms.
Use of the academic robe came to the United States in 1754 with the founding of what is now Columbia University. In 1895, a commission of university officials adopted a universal code of design and color for the academic garb. This code has undergone several revisions in subsequent years with the most recent modifications accepted in 1960.
Styling of the robes varies for the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The width of the sleeve borders and length of the hood increase with each advanced degree.
The color of associate degree gowns is selected by the college awarding the degree. The Owens Community College graduates are donned in black gowns.
Bachelor's gowns are closed at the throat and have long, pointed sleeves. Master's gowns may be worn open or closed; have long, oblong sleeves, square and closed at the end, the arms coming through slits near the wrist. Doctoral gowns, worn open or closed, are faced with velvet and have full, bell-shaped sleeves. Each sleeve carries three bars of velvet, called chevrons.
Trustees, presidents and marshals of the colleges, or universities, may wear caps and gowns which are especially designed and colored.
Academic caps are usually mortarboards, though soft caps also are worn. The cap is black; the tassel is black or the color appropriate to the discipline or field of study, or for a doctoral cap, it may be gold.
The hood gives color and real meaning to the academic costume. The color of the lining identifies the university granting the highest degree held by the wearer. The color of the trim indicates the field of learning in which the degree is received.
Owens Community College graduates wear tassels that represent their academic disciplines and degrees: