Just like the Latin honors system in undergraduate programs, is there such a system for postgraduate degrees ?

  • 11
    Yes. It's called "Publishing in high-quality venues". Seriously, nobody cares about your grades in grad school. Papers are what people will evaluate you on. – xLeitix May 15 '15 at 10:43
  • 2
    If you mean adding cum laude to the degree, it's highly country-dependent, I imagine. We had those in my alma mater in Italy. – Federico Poloni May 15 '15 at 11:12

I think that it significantly depends on country and university, but, based on my kind of unfortunate experience, graduate schools very rarely use the Latin honors system (with the exception of the JD degree and, less frequent, some other degrees - see below for an example).

As a recent Ph.D. graduate with high GPA (3.94, which usually corresponds to summa cum laude), I was wondering the same thing, while updating my CV and resume. I have asked someone at my program's office, but the reply was that at our university the Latin honor system is used usually for undergraduate and, perhaps, for some medical degrees. The lady was polite and advised to inquire further at the program's office. However, after reading the corresponding Wikipedia article and browsing some graduation-related documents on my university's website, I have figured that further research is not worth spending my time, so I have just made sure that my CV and resume contain correct GPA numbers for all my degrees (it is not as practical as the Latin honors terms, since those terms can be used in other contexts beyond the one of CV or resume). I hope this is helpful.

NOTE. Here's the information on grading and academic honors at some of the top MBA programs: http://poetsandquants.com/2014/02/27/how-mbas-are-graded-at-top-schools/2. Note the total lack of graduation honors at Yale. Despite the existence of a variety of unique honors at some of the top schools, for the majority of the rest of graduate schools, the most common academic honor terms at the graduate level seem to be "with distinction" or similar, as mentioned by @RoboKaren.

  • 2
    those terms can be used in other contexts beyond the one of CV or resume — They can? – JeffE May 15 '15 at 12:22
  • @JeffE: Absolutely. For example, one can easily use those terms on professional social network's profile (i.e., LinkedIn, ResearchGate), while specifying GPA seems to be out of context. Another related example is a personal professional website, say, of a consultant, where the "About" section can contain the Latin honor terms along with specifying the consultant's education (I've seen that a lot). It looks and reads harmoniously, whereas GPA wouldn't. – Aleksandr Blekh May 15 '15 at 23:10
  • 1
    Well sure, you can write down your cum laude in all kinds of places. But I don't think anyone cares. This is just the wrong "distinction" for a PhD. Your distinctions are supposed to be your novel results, papers published in selective journals or conferences, your best paper awards, your dissertation. – Sasho Nikolov May 16 '15 at 8:04
  • 1
    Besides the considerations Sasha pointed out (which are entirely accurate), GPA-based honors at the graduate school level would be inappropriate because the grading curve is so compressed, at least at the schools I've had experience with (and I've been told this is a quite general phenomenon). Virtually everyone gets an A or A-. More than one B is grounds for expulsion. – Potato May 16 '15 at 8:28
  • 1
    What @Potato said. The exact cutoff varies, but in most PhD programs in the US anything below B or B- is considered a failing grade and a single one can get you on probation. Classes are not meant to be the essential component of your academic performance in PhD, but to prepare you for the essential component, which is research. Having a high GPA means little more than passing. Many good schools have internal dissertation awards: now these are a much better goal. – Sasho Nikolov May 16 '15 at 8:36

At my university, you can graduate at the doctoral level "with distinction." This is the only honor we offer (aside from dissertation prizes) and it's entirely based on the dissertation, not on coursework.

We don't even calculate the GPA of our graduate students.

  • Yes, I think grad students awards are generally the closest analogue of a BS/BA "with honors." – Kimball May 16 '15 at 11:17

No, there are no such titles or honors with grad school, as you must maintain a B or higher to pass. A grade of B- or lower will result in failing or incompleting the course. Due to this standard of requiring at least a 3.0, all students inevitably have high GPA's upon graduating. Ultimately, grad students are expected to work harder, provided harder work and obtaining a high GPA is no longer an accomplisment, but rather anticipated.

  • Welcome to Academia.SE. While this is correct at many US institutions, it is not universally true that all students must maintain a B average. Further, this in itself does not answer the question: there is still a significant difference between a 3.0 and a 4.0. – cag51 Jan 3 at 5:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.