Robe or Gown
The three types of degrees each have a different style gown. Bachelor's gowns have pointed sleeves, and are worn closed. Master's gowns have oblong sleeve, open at the wrist, with the base hanging down, and rear part of the oblong cut square while the front arc cuts away. Doctoral gowns have bell-shaped sleeves, also designed with fasteners so it is worn closed or opened. The Doctoral gowns also have trimmings including velvet panels down the front and three bars of velvet on the sleeves. All three gowns are usually black, though some colleges and universities use the color of the school.
Academic Hoods are black, made from the same fabric as the gown. They vary in length depending on the degree from three feet to four feet, and the Doctoral hood is wider. Lined with college or university colors, they typically have one field color and one chevron color, though sometimes there are school specific variations. The edge of the hoods is velvet in the color of the degree subject.
Cowl: Cowls are typically made from velveteen and are used for Associate Degrees. They do not display a degree or discipline color, just the institutional colors on the lining.
Tams are typically used for Doctoral degrees, though some Master's programs do use them. Tams are made from velvet, and usually have a ribbon over the fabric, and in black. Color variations do occur with some colleges. The numbers of sides vary and can be four, six, or eight sided. Four sided is usually only used for Master's degrees, while six and eight sided are used for Doctor's degrees depending on which the University prefers. Tams are "poofed" at the top instead of flat, and come with a tassel usually in gold, with one or two buttons and sometimes in a gold bullion color.
Mortarboard or Cap
Mortarboards are flat, are not made from velvet, and are also usually black, but come in a variety of colors and variations more frequent than with tams. Mortarboards have only four sides, and typically have a tassel with a single button at the top, usually in the color of the degree-granting institution.