History of Regalia
The caps and gowns worn at commencement connect contemporary graduates with scholarly tradition that dates back 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." A costume for commencement has been a tradition since the beginning of higher education in America.
In 1895, the Intercollegiate Bureau of Academic Costume was created, and a standard code of academic dress for commencements was adopted. It calls for the existing cap and gown (the traditional bachelor's gown with long, open, pointed sleeves) and the master's gown (with its long sleeves hanging down from the elbow) to set apart the graduates at the undergraduate and graduate levels.