Latin Honors

Definition

The term Latin honors refers to an award of distinction given to students that meet or exceed specific grade point average thresholds or class rank.  The three most common honors include cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude.

Explanation

Latin honors are typically awarded to undergraduate students earning their bachelor's degree, although some universities will bestow this award on students earning graduate level law degrees.

While there is no universal standard for these honors, colleges and universities will usually award these "with praise" distinctions to graduating students that meet certain criteria.  For instance, a school's program may require students to:

  • Credit Hours:  complete a minimum number of course credits at the college or university.  For example, the school may require the student to complete at least 60 credit hours at their university to be eligible for Latin honors.
  • Grade Point Average:  meet or exceed pre-established GPA thresholds for each award type; this may include a fixed value or class ranking.  For example, a student may be awarded magna cum laude if their GPA is above 3.85 or they rank in the top 7% of their graduating class.

The three most common Latin honors include (in order of increasing difficulty):

  • cum laude:  which means "with honor"
  • magna cum laude: which means "with great honor"
  • summa cum laude:  which means "with highest honor"

Less common Latin honors include:

  • egregia cum laude: which means "with outstanding honor" and is typically reserved for students achieving summa cum laude honors in a particularly difficult subject area.
  • maxima cum laude: which means "with very great honor" and is normally reserved for students with a perfect academic record.
  • Latin honors will oftentimes appear on both the student's diploma as well as in their official transcripts.

Related Terms

associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctoral degree, dissertation, ACT, SAT