History of Regalia
The caps and gowns worn at Commencement connect contemporary graduates with scholarly tradition that dates back for as long as universities have existed. Clerics, ecclesiastics, and scholars wore hoods or caps and heavy gowns at European universities during the Middle Ages. Beginning in the middle of the fourteenth century, scholars wore an academic costume of "bunge and sand-colored habits."
In 1895, the Intercollegiate Bureau of Academic Costume was created in the US, and a standard code of academic dress for commencements was adopted. The academic dress consists of the existing cap and gown — the traditional bachelor's gown with long, open-pointed sleeves. To differentiate between undergraduate and graduate levels, the master’s gown has its long sleeves hanging down from the elbows.