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Bloomington Commencement Feature

Caps and Gowns

Tassels and Hood Colors

Undergraduate Students

All candidates for undergraduate degrees wear SureFit (one size fits all) mortarboards, and a tassel whose color indicates the school from which they are being graduated. The chart below depicts the color assignments, by school.  Those who have not yet received a degree wear their tassels on the right of their caps, turning them to the left upon the conferral of their degrees.

Master's Degrees

All candidates for master's degrees who have rented IU custom apparel receive the appropriate cap, gown, tassel and hood. All hats are SureFit (one size fits all) mortarboards. Graduates who purchase apparel may select whichever cap style they prefer.

Candidates for graduate degrees wear hoods and tassels that reflect their fields of learning.  Thus, students receiving a master's degree in business wear drab, in SPEA, peacock blue, and in public health, salmon. All master's candidates receiving degrees through the University Graduate School wear the white hoods and tassels of arts and sciences. 

Arts and Sciences White
Business Drab
Education Light Blue
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Royal Blue
Informatics and Computing Copper
Law Royal Purple
Medicine Kelly Green
Music Pink
Nursing Apricot
Optometry Aqua
Public and Environmental Affairs Peacock Blue
Public Health Salmon
Social Work Citron

Doctor of Philosophy

For many decades, Ph.D. recipients wore hoods of various hues.  In 1986, however, the American Council on Education (ACE), which has played a key role in determining correct academic apparel since 1932, specified that henceforth, Ph.D.'s would wear dark blue, a color long associated with philosophy.  ACE explained the decision this way:  "In the case of the Doctor of Philosophy Degree, the dark blue color is used to represent the mastery of the discipline of learning and scholarship in any field that is attested to by the awarding of this degree, and is not intended to represent the field of philosophy."  At IU, all Ph.D. degrees are awarded through the University Graduate School.

Other Doctoral Degrees

Candidates receiving doctoral degrees other than the Ph.D. wear the hood and tassel color of their schools. Thus, students receiving a doctorate or artist's diploma in music wear pink, those in education receiving an Ed.D. or specialists degree, wear light blue, and those in law wear purple.

Faculty Hoods and Tassels

At Indiana University, faculty members who have received a Ph.D. wear royal blue hoods and gold tassels on their caps. Faculty members who have received other doctoral degrees wear hoods and tassels reflecting their disciplines.  Faculty members who have received bachelor's or master's degrees wear the hoods of their fields, and black tassels on their caps.

History of the Colors

The United States created standardized rules for academic regalia in 1895 with the passage of the Intercollegiate Code. These rules were based on the rules developed in Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. The code, created by an intercollegiate commission, prescribed the cut and style and materials of the gowns, as well as determined the colors which were to represent the different fields of learning. The code was updated in 1932 and 1959.

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