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Advising Handbook

Honors and Distinction

College Honors

The College (Arts, Sciences, and Engineering) recognizes outstanding achievement of its students by awarding degrees cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude. These honors are inscribed on the diploma and recorded on the official transcript.

To be eligible, students must have:

  • A minimum of 88 credit hours counted in the GPA while registered in the College
  • Completed all degree requirements
  • No missing grades

Latin honors are awarded on the basis of the final cumulative grade point average, and the standards are announced each spring. Summa cum laude graduates comprise the top 2% of the class, magna cum laude the next 10%, and cum laude the next 20%. The grade point averages required to meet these levels are determined by the dean, who assesses the performance of the senior class as reflected in cumulative grade point averages at the end of the fall semester.

Members of the Class of 2018 who met these criteria were awarded degrees cum laude with a grade point average of 3.65, magna cum laude with 3.84, and summa cum laude with 3.97. 

Departmental Honors and Distinction Programs

Each department in Arts, Sciences and Engineering (AS&E) is empowered to recognize the achievement of its own majors through a program of study leading to a degree with honors in research or distinction for select students.

The requirements for admission to a departmental honors program, and the special departmental criteria for a degree with honors in research, or distinction, are submitted to the Faculty Curriculum Committee for review and approval. Only grades that appear on the official transcript are used in calculating departmental distinction.

The terms “distinction,” “high distinction,” and “highest distinction” reflect the quality of performance within a major. The term “honors in research” describes programs in which honors-level coursework and a research project or senior thesis are required.

An honors program requires students to complete a minimum of 12 credit hours in courses designated by the department as “honors courses.” These courses must include at least one advanced course or seminar and the course or courses in which the senior thesis or research project is completed.

Specific requirements for honors programs and for degrees with distinction are listed on department and program websites.

The degree awarded includes:

  • The level of distinction (distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction)
  • Honors in research (or high honors in research, or highest) when relevant
  • The major

The whole degree may look like this: “BA with high distinction in mathematics,” “high honors in research,” or “BA with distinction in history.”