The gown is distinctive for each of the three degree levels. The bachelor’s gown is a yoked, closed-front garment with long, pointed sleeves. The master’s gown can be worn open or closed and has long, oblong sleeves, usually closed but slit below the shoulders. The doctoral gown has full, bell-shaped sleeves crossed with three velvet bars, and by velvet panels from neck to ankle; it is generally black.
The mortarboard cap, in black, is the most accepted style of headdress in colleges and universities throughout the United States. The tassel, fastened to the center of the cap, indicates whether or not the degree has been conferred. If the wearer has graduated, the tassel is worn on the left; if not, it is worn on the right. The tassel on the doctoral cap may be of gold thread.
The hood, draped over the wearer’s shoulders and down the back, indicates the highest degree earned. The bachelor’s hood is seldom used. The doctoral hood differs from the bachelor’s and master’s in that it is longer and has flat wide panels on either side. The color and design of the silk lining of the hood indicate the college or university conferring the degree. At SSU, the hood worn by master’s degree candidates is lined in dark blue and light blue, the Sonoma State University colors. The master’s hood is trimmed in gold velvet for the master of science and white velvet for the master of arts. The color of the velvet border on the hood indicates the field of study in which a candidate has earned a degree. Among faculty, the most common degree is the doctor of philosophy, indicated by dark blue.