What does it mean to graduate with honors?

Updated April 17, 2017

Most students that fulfil course requirements and adhere to school policies will graduate college and receive a diploma. However, students who have proven to be exceptional may also graduate with honours.


Most colleges offer cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude honours. Cum laude means "with honour," magna cum laude means "with great honour," while summa cum laude means "with highest honour."


Eligibility to graduate with honours varies from school to school. For example, students may need a grade point average within the top 5 per cent of the class to graduate summa cum laude, within the top 10 per cent for magna cum laude, and within 15 per cent for cum laude.


Graduating with honours is mostly a designation that sets exceptional students apart from the rest of their class. Normally students in the honours categories will be given different colours sashes or tassels on graduation day to show what honours they have earned.

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About the Author

Chrys Lin has been working professionally in journalism since 2003. Her work has appeared in publications in the United States and parts of Asia. She currently resides in Texas and holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism.