The cap is the "mortarboard" type with black cloth cover. The gold tassel may be worn by holders of a doctor's degree.
There is no general rule for the position of the tassel. Some academic institutions require undergraduate candidates to wear the tassel on the right front side before degrees are conferred and to shift them to the left at the moment degrees are awarded. In some respects, this custom is a substitute for individual hooding.
The bachelor's, master's, and doctor's gowns differ slightly in pattern.
Only the doctor's gown bears trimmings. These are a velvet facing down the front and three velvet bars across each sleeve; the velvet may be black, or it may be the color appropriate to the subject in which the wearer holds a degree.
A number of universities now have doctoral robes. Stanford doctoral robes are red and black with particolored sleeves lined with a color indicating the scholarly discipline of the wearer. This robe is worn with a specially designed hood and velvet academic bonnet.
The colors in the lining are those of the academic institution which granted the degree (cardinal for Stanford). The binding or edging is the color of the faculty or subject in which the degree was granted (see below):
- Arts, Letters, Humanities - White
- Business, Commerce, Accountancy - Drab
- Communication, Journalism - Crimson
- Economics - Copper
- Education - Light Blue
- Engineering - Orange
- Fine Arts, including Architecture - Brown
- Law - Purple
- Medicine - Kelly Green
- Music - Pink
- Philosophy - Dark Blue
- Science - Golden Yellow
- Speech - Silver Grey
- Theology - Scarlet