The most common color combination for universities is red and white. Red is the most popular school color overall, and other very common combinations include red with black or gold.
Blue is the next most common color following red. Blue, like red, is most popular paired with white or gold, but orange and blue is also used by many colleges and universities. Both brown and yellow are very unpopular colors, and only a handful of schools use these colors in any combination.
While some colleges and universities use combinations of several different colors, the overwhelming majority use only two colors on their uniforms, logos, academic regalia and other promotional materials. This is not a coincidence but rather a direct development from medieval heraldry.
Heraldry is a system of assigning colors, patterns and designs to coats of arms, flags and other insignia. In addition to the choice of only two colors, the choice of which colors schools use also derives from this ancient system. Heraldry's "rule of tinctures" prohibits placing primary colors, such as red, blue, green and yellow, alongside colors representing a metal, such as white, silver, gold or black. Most modern colleges and universities still assign colors that conform to the rule of tinctures, but combinations that ignore this rule exist.