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What Percent of College Students Graduate with Honors?

What Percent of College Students Graduate with Honors?


Only about 20% to 30% of most graduating classes at most universities receive honors, which isn’t much, but it’s enough to make even summa cum laude grads struggle to find work. According to scholars from the renowned researchers, notwithstanding the ‘prestige’ that Latin honors can confer on a student, this unique treatment only operates for a maximum of two years.


Graduating With Distinction 

Graduation means you’ve finished all of the school’s general education and major area of specialization requirements and will receive a college diploma. This is a great feat given that just 36% of the population in the United States possesses a four-year college diploma. Students who graduate in the top percentile of their class, as assessed by each school, are considered honors students. Each institution establishes its own standards for selecting and giving honors. A student is said to have graduated with honors if they acquire Latin honors such as cum laude. Latin honors are used as a global indicator of undergraduate academic success. 


Different types of Honors

Hard work, dedication, motivation, and a positive attitude toward academic pursuits are typically the results of honors. The three types of honors available to graduating college students are as follows: 


Latin Honors 

Cum laude is one of the Latin Honors (Honors) 

Magna gratias (High Honors) 

Summa (Highest Honors) 

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Types of Honors

These three honors have Latin names, and each has a different connotation. Latin honors highlight the top students in each graduating class. Cum laude students need a 3.4 GPA, magna cum laude students need a 3.6 GPA, and summa cum laude students need a 3.8 GPA, but this varies per school. For the graduating student, the Latin words mean “high approbation, tremendous ovation, or highest praise.” Colleges only award this prize to a small percentage of their graduating class. Latin honors are more likely to appear on students’ diplomas and transcripts than other types of honors and recognitions. Several schools provide a one-of-a-kind Honors Scholar diploma.

English Honors

Department prizes in their major field of study may be given to faculty favorites. Every semester, academic departments will routinely evaluate graduating seniors and pick individuals who got “highest honors,” “high honors,” or “honors” by using their  GPA and other requirements contained in the course. If they are academically eligible, these students may also earn recommendations from instructors for Latin honors. It’s unusual for exceptional graduates to receive honors in both Latin and English. On a high achiever’s transcript, for example, “Magna Cum Laude with Highest Honors” might appear. 

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Organization Honors 

On graduation day, many student groups, clubs, and professional organizations dress high-performing members in bright regalia to set them apart from the other students walking in commencement. Many colleges have chapters of national honor societies like Phi Kappa Phi and the international Golden Key Honour Society. Fraternities and sororities have honor societies as well. A membership in an honor society looks great on a resume and can help you network when looking for a job.


What is the distinction between a bachelor’s degree and an honors degree? 

The undergraduate academic level to which you study is the fundamental distinction between a bachelor’s degree and an honor’s degree. Keep in mind that certain bachelor’s degrees come with or without honors, and you’ll need to take a step up to get the honors title. In some countries, this entails applying for and completing an honors degree program as a separate certification. As a result, you will have a bachelor’s degree as well as an honour’s degree, which is distinct from the previously mentioned degree with honors. 


When investigating your alternatives, finding the difference in the abbreviation for the qualification can be as simple as looking for the difference in the abbreviation for the qualification. For example, a regular Bachelor of Arts degree is abbreviated BA, whereas a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors is abbreviated BA (Hons) or, in the case of a BSc, BSc (Hons) (Hons). 


You can also apply for a single honors undergraduate degree, which allows you to concentrate on a single subject of specialization. Rather than studying particular subjects separately, these frequently give you with an integrated and complementary education.


What factors go into determining the categorization of an honours degree? 

An honours degree’s classification is heavily influenced by where you study. In the United Kingdom, a designation is given based on the attainment of specific grades and percentages within your degree. If you are studying in the United States or Canada, your GPA will be used, which has a percentage or letter grade connected with it. 

To be admitted into an honour’s degree program if you are studying in a country where an honour’s degree is a separate certification, you will normally require a minimum of a 70% pass or a B+. The competition for seats, especially in certain subjects, can be fierce, so maintaining your grades is crucial.


Should you pursue a bachelor’s degree with honors? 

There is no need to be concerned if the degree you have chosen is automatically associated with an honors degree; however, you should ensure that you complete the academic requirements. 

If you pick an Australian degree, on the other hand, you may need to evaluate whether you want to spend an extra year on a year-long research project. 

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An Australian honours degree will provide you more research abilities, allowing you to delve deeper into a specific issue. This will come in handy if you decide to seek a PhD later on. You’ll also learn transferable skills like planning and organizing tasks to reach a challenging goal, conducting independent research, and speaking effectively once you’re in the job. 

We hope that this article has clarified what the “honours” difference signifies while selecting a degree program. Getting a degree, whether it’s an honours or non-honours program, is no stroll in the park and can be difficult in and of itself. So, to avoid regretting your selection, take some time to consider your possibilities.


What exactly is cum laude? 

Cum laude is a Latin term that means “with praise,” and it indicates that you will graduate as an honor student. Universities, like other academic accolades, normally demand a high GPA to get this distinction. Depending on the standards of the institution or college, they may specify the exact GPA you need or compare your performance to that of your classmates. To graduate cum laude, you must typically be in the top 30% of your class academically. 


What is the meaning of magna cum laude? 

Magna cum laude is a Latin accolade that translates to “with great honor,” and it’s usually designated for those who have excelled academically but aren’t among the top graduates. This is normally a distinction earned by the top 10% to 15% of students, though it varies by university and program of study. 

What is the meaning of summa cum laude? 

The summa cum laude distinction, which translates to “with the highest honor,” is the apex of Latin honor medals. Summa cum laude is an exceedingly outstanding achievement that will set you apart from your colleagues after graduation. It is often granted to the top 1% to 5% of graduates.

What is the difference between a valedictorian and a salutatorian? 

The valedictorian is the student with the highest academic standing in the graduating class, while the salutatorian is the student who comes in second after the valedictorian. Several people identify valedictorian and salutatorian honors with high school graduations, although similar honors are also given to students at some colleges and universities. If a university bestows these honors, the university will normally set aside time during the graduation ceremony for these two students to speak. The valedictorian and salutatorian may speak about their experiences and provide hope and inspiration for their classmates’ futures during these speeches. 

What are the criteria for summa, magna, and cum laude graduation? 

Because there is currently no national norm for achieving any of the Latin awards, colleges are allowed to set their own standards. Universities frequently reserve these distinctions for students who achieve a specified GPA or place in the top 10% of their class as compared to their peers. Some colleges have additional prerequisites for receiving one of the honors, such as a letter of recommendation from a professor, completion of specific projects, or completion of a certain number of advanced courses.

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How do you rank the Cum Laude? 

Summa cum laude is the highest academic honor, followed by magna cum laude and cum laude. 

The manner in which they are conferred varies for each post-secondary institution. Students at the University of Pennsylvania, for example, must have a 3.8 GPA or better to be awarded summa cum laude. The University of Michigan Law School, on the other hand, requires a 4.0 GPA. 

What Year Did Latin Honors Begin? 

The Latin honors system in the United States dates back to Harvard University in 1869. This academic award system is used by just a few other countries, including Indonesia, Israel, and Canada. 

The United Kingdom, on the other hand, utilizes an English-based system, with only a few academic institutions utilizing latin nomenclature. 

Latin Honors: How Common Are They? 

Nearly half of students in some colleges receive summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude. In some schools, students who are awarded latin honors outnumber those who are not. 

In fact, during the previous two decades, around 42 percent to 48 percent of Princeton students have received one of these honors. After 92 percent of students graduated with honors in 2002, Harvard decided to set a limit on these figures. 

What does the phrase summa cum laude mean? 

The summa cum laude distinction is the pinnacle of Latin honor medals, meaning “with the highest honor.” 

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What does the phrase magna cum laude mean? 

Magna cum laude is a Latin honorific that means “with great honor,” and it’s frequently bestowed on students who have excelled academically but aren’t among the top graduates. 


Real-world experience always triumphs over theoretical understanding. As a result, honors will only affect your first and maybe second job applications. Honors, on the other hand, will be merely a lovely title that no one will notice. 

Honors graduation is something you should aspire to. Third-party verification isn’t a good idea. To demonstrate that you are capable of completing challenging things, you must desire accolades. Don’t get them just because your parents said so. 

We hope you find this article to be both informative and useful. Please keep this information in mind when you look for work or apply for college admission.

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