Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Everything you need to know about UTSA’s academic regalia

MAY 12, 2022 — Every graduate wears a cap and gown during a typical Commencement celebration at UTSA, but some look very different than the others. Hundreds of years of history have inspired UTSA's academic regalia and what these various colors and styles represent.

The tradition of the academic dress dates back nearly eight centuries. In medieval Europe, all townsmen wore long, flowing robes or gowns. The materials and colors differed greatly, according to the wealth and rank of the individual and were governed by royal decree. Gradually, distinctive gowns were developed for the various professions, trades and guilds. Today, this tradition remains for gowns of judiciary and religious orders, as well as in academic regalia.


Through the years, great diversity in color and style of cap, gown and hood have evolved. In 1895, a commission was established to come up with a uniform code for academic costume. Today, the gowns, hoods and mortarboards worn by the graduating students of most institutions, including UTSA, follow this code.


Bobby De Leon is a first-generation student who earned his bachelor's degree in music education.

The gowns and mortarboards at UTSA are navy blue. The style of the gowns vary depending on the degree the student receives. The sleeves of the gowns worn by the master’s degree recipients are square at the end. The doctoral degree recipients’ gowns have flowing sleeves with three bars of velvet and a facing of velvet down the front with the UTSA seal. The velvet trim is five inches wide for the doctoral degree. The color of the velvet border indicates the degree and align with the tassel colors listed below.

Alesha Sha came from China to earn her master's of business administration at UTSA. 

The biggest difference in regalia can be found in the hood, which identifies the graduate degree and institution at which it was awarded. For master’s students, the hood is short. For those receiving a doctoral degree, the hood is longer and lined with silk in the official colors of the student’s institution. UTSA’s hoods are lined in orange with one white chevron.

Ana Rodriguez ’09, ’14 earned her bachelor’s and master’s from UTSA. Now, this UTSA staff member has her Ph.D. in educational leadership.

The academic caps have their own special meanings. Developed in the 15th century, some caps were stiff, some soft, some square and some round with a tuft in the center. The tassel used today is an elaboration of the tuft. While some institutions still use the round caps, most institutions, including UTSA, have adopted the mortarboard style that comes from Oxford University. Students earning terminal degrees wear a tam.

The tassel color for graduate degrees indicates the discipline in which the degree has been earned, except that a gold bullion tassel is worn by recipients of doctoral degrees. For a bachelor’s degree, the tassel's colors represent the university in a tricolor of orange, blue and white. The gold cord, worn by some undergraduate students, indicates graduation with honors: summa cum laude, magna cum laude or cum laude.

UTSA leadership and faculty wear the robe specific to the university where they earned their highest degree. President Taylor Eighmy’s regalia is indicative of the University of New Hampshire, where he earned his Ph.D. in environmental engineering. Eighmy incorporates the Roadrunner spirit with his orange hood, which actually signifies his engineering degree. He also wears the UTSA Presidential Medallion, which symbolizes the authority and responsibility vested in the president. The brass medallion has the university seal on one side and the words “Presented by the UTSA Development Board in honor of the University’s 25th anniversary—1994” on the other side.

President Eighmy’s hood represents his Ph.D. in environmental engineering. He also wears the UTSA Presidential Medallion.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy purchased her regalia when she was a faculty member at Southern Illinois University and needed it to participate in the hooding of her first doctoral student. The hood is red and white, representing her doctoral alma mater, the University of Houston, and the piping on the sleeve chevrons is gold, representing her science degree. Her favorite features of the gown are the buttons that anchor the hood in place: one hidden inside the zipper and another on the back. Another distinguishing feature of her regalia is what it lacks—like a number of faculty, Espy eschews tradition by wearing neither a tam nor mortarboard at ceremonies.

Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy wears regalia representing her Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology from the University of Houston.


Tassel and Hood Colors for Graduate Degrees

Blue Violet: Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning

Brown: Art, Interior Design

Citron: American Studies, Anthropology, Bicultural and Bilingual Studies, Geography, Mexican American Studies, Social Work

Copper: Economics

Crimson: Communication

Dark Blue: Justice Policy, Philosophy, Political Science

Drab: Business, Data Analytics

Gold: Criminal Justice, Psychology

Golden Yellow: Sciences, Mathematics

Light Blue: Education

Pink: Music

Orange: Engineering

Peacock Blue: Public Administration

Sage: Health, Kinesiology, Public Health

White: Classical Studies, History, Humanities, Multidisciplinary Studies, Sociology, Languages, Women's Studies

Courtney Clevenger

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.



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