The University of Cambridge is comprised of 31 colleges, all of which are independent of the university. Out of these, two colleges are open to postgraduates only and four admit primarily graduate students. The remaining 25 colleges admit undergraduate students and graduates attending Cambridge University courses of study and research. A student can graduate only on the condition his degree has been approved by the governing body of the university and the Regents House.
The main Cambridge degree is the Bachelor of Arts, which requires three years of study. Other Bachelor degrees include Bachelor of Medicine, Surgery, Veterinary Medicine, Music, Education and Theology for Ministry. After receiving the Bachelor's degree a student may proceed to the Master of Arts without taking additional examinations. The Master of Arts at Cambridge is not available in terms of postgraduate qualification, it is granted to a Bachelor of Arts seven years after completion. The holders of M.A. have the right to vote in the election of a new Chancellor and participate in the decision-making process of the university. The students are admitted to the degree of Master of Arts, Science, Surgery, Letters, Law, Science, Engineering, Philosophy, Education, Natural Sciences, Business Administration and Studies.
The Cambridge degree ceremony dates back to the establishment of the institution and reflects the earliest traditions of the university. Conducted in Latin, the ceremony is seen as highly dignified. The holders of Cambridge degrees have to wear the academic dress, which consists of the gown and the hood of the academic degree granted. Undergraduate students, holding no Cambridge degree, wear gowns which correspond to their status in the university. The most common gowns in the University of Cambridge are undergraduate gown, Bachelor of Arts gown, Master of Arts gown and Doctoral gown. The gowns are usually black, though there may be some minor variations in the decoration of cuff and lapel.
The form and color of hood may vary depending on the academic status. Thus the Bachelor of Arts hood is black with white rabbit fur, while that of Master of Arts is of black cloth, lined in white silk. The Doctor of Philosophy hood is black, lined with scarlet cloth. Higher doctors wear red hoods, which are lined with silk of the faculty color, like light blue for science, scarlet for letters, cherry for law and grey for divinity.
There exist two forms of academic dress for holders of Doctorate degree. These include undress and scarlet or full dress. The undress gown resembles the gown of Master of Arts. The full dress is compulsory at college and university occasions. It is different for each doctorate, but is designed in the same color and material as hood.
The university may grant a Cambridge degree to an affiliate student, approved for the purpose of owing to the significance of his work done before completion of degree requirements. In case a student resigns his membership of Cambridge, his name is removed from the list of members and any degree he has been admitted is cancelled.