Academic Ceremonial Traditions | Webster University

Academic Ceremonial Traditions


Regalia worn by faculty and graduates are based on academic dress used in the universities of medieval Europe. By the early 1900s, Webster University and other American colleges and universities adopted the custom. The academic Costume Code of the American Council on Education prescribes color, shape and texture of regalia. Webster University follows these customs, with room for uniquely Webster traditions that distinguish this worldwide institution.


The flowing gown dates from the 12th century. It is traditionally black for all degrees, with pointed sleeves for bachelor’s, long closed sleeves with a slit at the arm or wrist for master’s, and a full bell sleeve for a doctoral degree.


A universally accepted style for U.S.-based colleges and universities, the mortarboard is a sign of freedom of scholarship and the responsibility and dignity which scholarship endows the wearer.


Worn across the throat and over the shoulders, the hood reflects the official colors of the University granting the degree. The color of velvet represents the wearer’s field of learning.


In academia, the mace represents the authority of a university faculty over its academic programs. Webster University’s mace is designed to represent the school’s international academic locations. The mace is 32 inches long and topped with a globe on a platform listing the nations with Webster campuses. The mace is carried by the President of the Faculty Senate.


The Presidential Medallion is a symbol of the authority vested in the President of the University and is worn on official occasions. It features the Webster University seal, which has evolved over the 100 years of the University’s existence. The seal’s lantern and open book represent the light of knowledge. The crown represents Webster’s links with its past, and the date on the ribbon commemorates the University’s founding.

Official COLORS

Agriculture: Maize
Arts, Letters, Humanities: White
Business Administration: Drab
Commerce, Accountancy, Business: Drab
Dentistry: Lilac
Economics: Copper
Education: Light Blue
Engineering: Orange
Fine Arts, Architecture: Brown
Forestry: Russet
Journalism: Crimson
Law: Purple
Library Science: Lemon
Medicine: Green
Music: Pink
Nursing: Apricot
Oratory (Speech): Silver Gray
Pharmacy: Olive Green
Philosophy: Dark Blue
Physical Education: Sage Green
Public Administration: Peacock Blue
Public Health: Salmon Pink
Science: Golden Yellow
Social Work: Citron
Theology: Scarlet
Veterinary Science: Gray


Webster University has more than 6,000 students associated with the U.S. Armed Forces. Military students on active duty may wear their full dress uniform in lieu of traditional academic dress at commencement.


In Webster University’s commencement procession, select students carry the U.S.A. flag; the Missouri state flag and the Webster University flag. Students also present the flags of host countries of Webster University international campus locations, followed by graduates who carry the flags of their home countries.

Other Symbols

Webster University graduates are also allowed to display various symbols of achievements (e.g. honors cords), sponsored experiences (study abroad stoles), commitments (ethics pledge ribbons), student organizations (campus leadership cords), heritage (multicultural stoles) or off-campus study.