Identification of the hood and robe as academic apparel is believed to have originated at the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The hoods are a carry-over from the times when monks, who operated these universities, wore them to protect their shaved heads in winter. The robe is an adaptation of the shoulder cape also worn by these same monks while collecting alms.
Use of the academic robe came to the United States in 1754 with the founding of what is now Columbia University. In 1895, a commission of university officials adopted a universal code of design and color for the academic garb. This code has undergone several revisions in subsequent years with most recent modifications accepted in 1960.
Styling of the robes varies for the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The width of sleeve borders and length of the hood increase with each advanced degree.
In the hoods, the color of the velvet border indicates the type of degree held, while the lining designates the official colors of the institution granting it.
Here is a distinguishing color table for academic regalia at Kent State University:
College of Architecture and Environmental Design Blue Violet
College of the Arts
Arts, Fine Arts, Science Brown
College of Arts and Sciences
Sciences Golden Yellow
Public Administration Peacock Blue
College of Business Administration Drab
College of Communication and Information
Arts, Fine Arts, Science Crimson
Library Science Lemon
College of Education, Health and Human Services Light Blue
College of Nursing Apricot
College of Public Health Salmon
College of Technology Orange