Graduation Honors and What They Mean

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Graduation Honors and What They Mean

Graduation honors serve as an extra badge of distinction when you receive your diploma. Depending on your academic focus, you may receive a Latin honor that appends your degree, or an honor cord that you can attach to your mortarboard. Below, we’ve shared some of the most universal graduation honors, and what they signify in academic terms.

Graduation Honors - High GPA - Great Grades

How Do You Graduate With Honors?

To earn a graduation honor, you must excel in an academic, sports, or leadership field. Every university has unique traditions, but there are common honors shared among hundreds of institutions as well.

Perhaps the most common way to graduate with honors is by achieving an outstanding GPA. If your GPA is high enough, you will earn a Latin honor on your diploma. You’ll also be able to mention the honor on your resume or your graduate school applications, to improve your prospects.

Graduation Honors - 3 Types of Latin Honors

The Three Latin Honors

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  • Cum Laude: From Latin, this translates to “With Praise”. Some colleges will say a student “graduated with honors” instead of Cum Laude. Typically, the graduate must have a 3.5 GPA to earn this honor.
  • Magna Cum Laude: This translates to “With Great Honor”. Most colleges will require the graduate to have a 3.75 GPA to earn this distinction.
  • Summa Cum Laude: Finally, this translates to “With Highest Honor”. It is the most prestigious academic award, and you must earn a 3.9 GPA or better to receive it.
Graduation Honors - Graduation Honor Cord Montage

What Do Graduation Honor Cords Mean?

These colorful strands have a tassel on each end, and they are worn around the honoree’s neck, so that the strands hang down the graduation gown. Depending on the color, the graduation cords can signify a wide variety of achievements. Graduates with Latin honors may wear an honor cord, as well as members of campus organizations. The Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) has developed a standardized system for graduation honor cord colors, so that they are consistent across the academic landscape. However, some institutions take the liberty to develop their own color codes. To see the recommended honor cord list, click here.

Graduation Honors - Graduation Honor Cord Colors

What are Some Typical Honor Cord Colors?

  • Gold: This is the most popular cord color on graduation day. It can signify Latin honors for a high GPA, National Honor Society membership, and other academic honors.
  • Silver: These cords are typically awarded to graduates in medical science, as well as physics and agriculture.
  • Black: These understated honor cords represent the business world, including accounting, business administration, and economics.

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