School colors

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The UCLA marching band dressed in the school's "True Blue" and gold colors in 2010. UCLA marching band 2010.jpg
The UCLA marching band dressed in the school's "True Blue" and gold colors in 2010.

School colors (also known as university colors or college colors) are the colors chosen by a school, academy, college, university or institute as part of its brand identity, used on building signage, web pages, branded apparel, and the uniforms of sports teams. They can promote connection to the school – or 'school spirit' – and help differentiate it from other institutions. [1]



Princeton University's store, featuring the school's orange and black colors. U-Store Princeton.jpg
Princeton University's store, featuring the school's orange and black colors.

The tradition of school colors appears to have started in England in the 1830s. The University of Cambridge chose Cambridge blue for the Boat Race against the University of Oxford in 1836, [2] Westminster School have used pink as their color since a boat race against Eton School in 1837, [3] and Durham University adopted palatinate purple for its MA hood some time before that degree was first awarded in 1838. [4]

Many US colleges adopted school colors between 1890 and 1910. These were generally chosen to be distinctive, something that grew harder as more colors and color combinations were taken, although many Presbyterian colleges chose to imitate Princeton University's black and orange. [5] Some American schools, in a display of patriotism, adopted the national colors of "red, white, or blue." [6]

The most popular colors among US colleges ranked in the 2012 Forbes Top 50 or in the 2012–13 NCAA basketball or cross-country rankings were white, blue, red, black, and gold. These same five colors were the most popular five colors among colleges in each of the three rankings individually. [7]


Nippon Sport Science University Rugby Football Club players wearing their light and dark blue colors Nippon Sport Science University Rugby Football Club Players.jpg
Nippon Sport Science University Rugby Football Club players wearing their light and dark blue colors

The use of colors to identify university sports teams dates back at least to the second Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge in 1836. [2] While most universities use the same color(s) for their sports and other university branding, Cambridge Blue is only one of twelve colors in the supporting palette for the university, not one of their six core colors. [8] The University of Nottingham uses green and gold for its sports, but the rest of the university uses blue as its brand color. [9] [10] Roger Williams University changed its athletics colors in 2018 to match the university colors, in order to "foster a strong, unified visual identity for RWU Athletics that is more cohesive with the overall University", stating that "this combination will be powerful in strengthening RWU's brand identity and awareness". [11]

Most competitive teams keep two sets of uniforms, with one emphasizing the primary color and the other emphasizing the secondary color. In some sports, such as American football, the primary color is emphasized on home uniforms, while uniforms for other sports, notably basketball, use the secondary or a neutral color at home, most commonly white. This is done to avoid confusing the two schools' colors.[ citation needed ]

In addition, various groups that generate support for athletic teams, including cheerleaders and marching bands, wear uniforms with the colors of their school. At many private schools, or more traditional state schools, "school colors" are awards presented for achievement in a subject or a sport.[ citation needed ]


The university color can sometimes become a nickname for the sports program. For example, the Palatinate (Durham) and the African Violet (Loughborough) in the UK, [12] [13] and the Harvard Crimson and Cornell Big Red in the US. [14]

Academic dress

Academic colors of heliotrope (purple), gold and green for Edge Hill University seen on the hood of honorary graduate Sue Smith Sue Smith.jpg
Academic colors of heliotrope (purple), gold and green for Edge Hill University seen on the hood of honorary graduate Sue Smith

School colors are also used in the academic dress of many institutions. The first school color adopted by a university for its academic dress was palatinate purple at Durham University, England, some time between 1835 and 1838. [15] [4] Schools in the US that award an academic hood to their students and abide by the American Council on Education guidelines use hoods lined with their school colors and trimmed with velvet in a color indicating the discipline of the degree. [16] Some US doctoral robes will also be in the colors of the university which granted the degree, departing from the Academic Costume Code color of black. [17]

Academic scarves

Many British, Irish and Commonwealth universities and some American universities have an academic scarf in the university's colors, usually long, woollen and patterned only with lengthwise stripes of varying widths. At collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and Lancaster, each college has its own colors and scarf. Other non-collegiate universities such as Glasgow and Newcastle have scarf colors for each faculty. [18]

Notable school colors

Postcard representing Columbia University featuring a woman dressed in Columbia blue, by F. Earl Christy, 1907. Columbia Christy.jpg
Postcard representing Columbia University featuring a woman dressed in Columbia blue, by F. Earl Christy, 1907.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic dress</span> Attire worn by students and officials at certain schools and universities for commencement

Academic dress is a traditional form of clothing for academic settings, mainly tertiary education, worn mainly by those who have obtained a university degree, or hold a status that entitles them to assume them. It is also known as academical dress, academicals, and, in the United States, as academic regalia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic dress of the University of Oxford</span>

The University of Oxford has a long tradition of academic dress, which continues to the present day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic dress of Durham University</span>

The academic dress of Durham University has many similarities with that of other older British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. Most colleges of Durham University insist on gowns being worn on formal occasions, including matriculation and formal halls (dinners); exceptions are Van Mildert, St Cuthbert's Society, Collingwood, Stephenson, St Aidans, and The College of St Hild and St Bede. Some colleges also insist on their being worn to Junior Common Room meetings, and they are often seen in college chapels. At formal halls, only gowns are worn and doctors normally wear their undress gowns; for more ceremonial occasions full-dress gowns and hoods are worn by graduates. Until 1990, the General Regulations of university 'recommended' the wearing of gowns by members of the university when attending divine service at the Cathedral – but this is now left to individual choice apart from at certain services. Gowns are also customarily worn to meetings of the university Senate by members of that body.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sporting colours</span> Sports awards at schools and universities in the UK

Sporting colours or just colours are awarded to members of a university or school who have excelled in a sport. Many schools do not limit their use to sport but may also give colours for academic excellence or non-sporting extra-curricular activities, Colours are traditionally indicated by the wearing of a special tie or blazer.

Maroon is a brownish crimson color that takes its name from the French word marron, or chestnut. "Marron" is also one of the French translations for "brown".

Academic dress at the University of St Andrews involves students wearing distinctive academic gowns whilst studying at the University of St Andrews. Undergraduate gowns in Scotland were once common at all the ancient universities of Scotland, with each having its own distinctive style. St Andrews undergraduates wear either a scarlet gown if they are part of the United College and studying in the Faculties of Arts, Medicine and Science, or a black gown if they are part of St Mary's College and studying in the Faculty of Divinity.

Palatinate or palatinate purple is a purple colour associated with Durham University and the County and City of Durham. The term has been used to refer to a number of different shades of purple. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a "light purple or lavender colour", which is used for Durham academic hoods. For corporate purposes Durham University uses a darker shade.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic dress of University of Melbourne</span>

The academic dress of the University of Melbourne refers to the formal attire, including robes, gowns, and hoods, as prescribed by the Statutes and Regulations for undergraduates, graduates, officers, and honorands of the university. This follows the style of the University of Oxford for the gowns and hoods for Bachelors and Masters degrees. Melbourne adopts the style of the University of Cambridge for its doctorates. The hoods are all black, resembling the size and shape of the Oxford MA hoods, which are in the simple Burgon shape. These hoods are lined with the color specified for the corresponding faculty or degree and are bound with white on the lower edge for bachelors, while masters' hoods have no binding. The specific faculty or degree colors are outlined in the University Regulations. In the past, Pass degrees were bound in fur and Honours degrees in silk; however, this distinction no longer holds. Bachelors wear an Oxford Bachelors gown, while Masters wear an Oxford Masters gown. The gown for undergraduate students is the same as the bachelors', but its sleeves must not be split.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic regalia of Harvard University</span>

As the oldest college in the United States, Harvard University has a long tradition of academic dress. Harvard gown facings bear crow's-feet emblems near the yoke, a symbol unique to Harvard, made from flat braid in colours distinctive of the wearer's qualification or degree. Crow's-feet are double for earned degrees, and triple for honorary degrees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Undergraduate gowns in Scotland</span> Academic dress code

Undergraduate gowns are a notable feature of academic dress for students at the ancient universities in Scotland.

The Oxford University Gazette is the publication of record for the University of Oxford in England, used for official announcements. It is published weekly during term time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic dress of the University of Edinburgh</span> Academic dress for Graduation

Academic dress at the University of Edinburgh is compulsory at official ceremonial occasions, such as graduation and the installations of Rector and Chancellor, and otherwise optional, usually only worn for events.

The Groves Classification is a numbering system to enable the shape of any academic gown or hood to be easily described and identified. It was devised by Nicholas Groves to establish a common terminology for hoods and gowns to remedy the situation of individual universities using differing terms to describe the same item. As such it is used in same manner as an heraldic blazon whereby a textual description enables a coat of arms to be drawn. The system was first described in the Burgon Society's annual in 2001 and adopted as standard by robe makers and scholars of academic dress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic dress in the United Kingdom</span>

The academic dress of the United Kingdom and Ireland has a long history and has influenced the academic dress of America and beyond. The academic square cap was invented in the UK as well as the hood which developed from the lay dress of the medieval period.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic dress in the United States</span>

Academic dress has a history in the United States going back to the colonial colleges era. It has been most influenced by the academic dress traditions of Europe. There is an Inter-Collegiate Code that sets out a detailed uniform scheme of academic regalia that is voluntarily followed by many, though not all institutions entirely adhere to it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oxford Blue (colour)</span> Shade of blue used by Oxford University

Oxford Blue is the official colour of the University of Oxford. The official Oxford branding guidelines set its definition as Pantone 282, equivalent to the hex code #002147.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic regalia of Stanford University</span>

The academic regalia of Stanford University describes the robes, gowns, and hoods which are prescribed by the university for its graduates. Stanford University was founded in 1891 and academic dress has been a part of academic life at the school since at least 1899. As in most American universities, the academic dress found at Stanford is derived from that of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which was a development of academic and clerical dress common throughout the medieval universities of Europe. Today, also in common with most American universities, academic regalia is commonly seen only at graduation ceremonies. For most of its academic dress, Stanford follows the Intercollegiate Code of Academic Costume which was devised in 1895 and sets out a detailed uniform scheme of academic regalia. Stanford does make use of a distinct robe for its PhD graduates which is unique among American institutions of higher education in being based specifically on the doctoral robes of the University of Cambridge.

A grand compounder was a degree candidate at the University of Oxford who paid extra for his degree; £30 rather than £7 for a BA, and £40 rather than £14 for an MA. Undergraduates with a certain high level of income were required to do this; in 1817 this level was a benefice rated in the Kings Books at £40, or other income in excess of £300. The practice was abolished in 1857.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic regalia of Columbia University</span> Academic dress worn at Columbia University, New York

The academic regalia of Columbia University are the robes, gowns, and hoods which are prescribed by the university for its graduates. As one of the oldest universities in the United States, Columbia University has a long tradition of academic dress dating back to its founding in the 18th century, when it became the second university in the country to formally adopt academic robes. The development of Columbia's academic regalia has strongly influenced those of most universities in the United States. Since the passing of the Intercollegiate Code of Academic Costume in 1895, the style of academic dress worn at the university in the late 20th century has served as the basis of those of most other universities in the country. Though once worn daily by students at the university, caps and gowns now are only worn during commencement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Columbia University commencement</span>

The first commencement at Columbia University was held on June 21, 1758, when the university, then known as King's College, conferred seven degrees upon its first graduating class. Today, the university graduates several thousand students each year from its several undergraduate colleges, graduate schools, and affiliated institutions. University Commencement traditionally takes place on the third Wednesday of May.


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