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1. General Provisions
- Any campus may offer both degrees with honors and degrees with distinction, only one, or neither.
- A student may obtain both a degree with honors and a degree with distinction, if offered by the campus from which the degree is awarded.
- For the purpose of awarding degrees with honors and degrees with distinction, the overall performance of degree candidates on each campus will be judged in relationship to the performance of degree-seeking students on that campus, not in relationship to other University students.
- To qualify for either a degree with distinction or a degree with honors, a student must have completed 60 or more semester credits at the University of Minnesota. For the purposes of meeting the grade point average (GPA) standards set forth in this policy, only University of Minnesota course work will factor into the GPA calculation.
- It is the expectation of the Faculty Senate that in general, a campus will not award degrees with honors and with distinction, in total, to more than approximately 10 - 15% of any graduating class.
- The University transcript will contain a brief explanation of the difference between a degree with distinction and a degree with honors.
- The Senate Committee on Educational Policy will review annually data on the number and percentage of students on each campus who receive degrees with distinction and degrees with honors.
2. Degrees with Distinction
- The initiative in establishing degrees with distinction will lie with the campuses concerned and must be approved by the chief academic officer on the campus.
- To graduate "with distinction," a student must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.750 or higher at the time the student graduates. To graduate "with high distinction," a student must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.900 or higher.
- The grade point average is the sole determinant of the granting of degrees "with distinction" or "with high distinction." Campuses may choose to offer only degrees "with distinction" or only degrees "with high distinction," but in either case they would be subject to section 2(b) of this policy.
3. Degrees with honors and campus honors programs
- The requirements for a degree with honors will not consist of only the accomplishment of a designated amount of course work or achievement of a stipulated grade point average, but will also include a definite standard of excellence in scholarship with specific evidence of ability to accomplish independent or original work. To obtain a degree with honors, the student must participate in a fully developed campus honors program.
- The initiative for establishing degrees with honors (that is, cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude) will lie with each campus and must be approved by the senior academic officer on the campus. Qualifications for degrees with honors must meet the requirements of sections 3(b-d) of this policy.
- A campus desiring to grant degrees with honors must propose an honors program, specifying how honors students are to be selected, the nature, depth, and breadth of the honors requirements, and the general requirements for obtaining a degree cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude.
- The minimum cumulative grade-point average in courses taken after the completion of 60 semester credits will be 3.500 to obtain a degree "cum laude," 3.666 for a degree "magna cum laude," and 3.750 for a degree "summa cum laude." Campuses have the authority to adopt higher grade-point averages. Students whose GPA is 0.100 or less below one of these three bands may be considered for the band above based on exceptional thesis work, the standards for, and process of evaluation for, to be determined solely by the campus honors program.
- Campuses will attempt to ensure that there is reasonable consistency across units in the amount of work required of its students to obtain degrees with honors.
Reason for Policy
Students who achieve high academic performance as evidenced in their grade point average or who participate in an honors program (either University or campus based) receive recognition on their transcripts and diplomas. The standards for graduating with distinction and/or honors need to be clearly articulated so they can be applied consistently, and so students know what is required to achieve these recognitions.