New Kensington

Academic regalia significance explained

The approved academic attire at Penn State New Kensington's commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in the New Kensington Field House comprises a cap, gown and hood. The basic article of the attire is the gown, which is blue in color for all degrees. Cotton poplin fabric is used for the bachelor's and master's gowns, and ribbed rayon or silk is reserved for the doctorate's gown. Doctorate's gowns have lined bell sleeves with velvet chevrons in colors corresponding to the field of study. Academic dress had its beginnings in the Middle Ages. When the English universities were taking form in the 12th and 13th centuries, the scholars also were clerics and adopted robes similar to those of their monastic orders. Caps were a necessity in the drafty buildings, and capes with hoods attached were needed for warmth. The hood has become the colorful standard bearer of academic symbolism. It identifies the level of degree; the academic field of learning in which the degree was earned; and the institution that conferred the degree.

Last Updated March 19, 2009