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Undergraduate Degrees with Distinction and Degrees with Honors: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, Rochester

Policy Contents
Effective Date: April 2009
Last Update: January 2011
Responsible University Officer:
  • Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Policy Owner:
  • Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education
Policy Contact:
CONSULTED WITH: Faculty Senate

Printed on: . Please go to for the most current version of the Policy or related document.


1. General Provisions

  1. Any campus may offer both degrees with honors and degrees with distinction, only one, or neither.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The University transcript will contain a brief explanation of the difference between a degree with distinction and a degree with honors.
  7. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


This policy is not applicable to the Duluth campus.


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.


There are no procedures related to this policy.


There are no forms related to this policy.


There are no appendices related to this policy.


  1. How are Latin honors determined (Twin Cities)?

    The level of graduation with Latin Honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) is based on the grade point average in a student’s final 60 graded credits at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (transfer credits are not included). The GPA in these last 60 graded credits, combined with meeting the University Honors Program requirements, qualifies the student to be considered for the following Latin Honors Graduation Levels:

    • cum laude: 3.50 GPA or higher
    • magna cum laude: 3.66 GPA or higher
    • summa cum laude: 3.75 GPA or higher

    All students pursuing Latin Honors must complete an Honors Thesis consistent with the level of Latin Honors they are attempting. All students graduating with Latin Honors at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities must meet the residency requirement of 60 graded credits on the UMTC campus.

  2. Can a student graduate with more than one type of honors designation?

    At the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, a student may earn graduation with distinction or high distinction at the same time as graduation with Latin Honors.

    At the University of Minnesota, Morris and the University of Minnesota, Rochester, a student may be able to graduate with more than one type of honors designation. Students are encouraged to speak with their advisors regarding their eligibility for an honors designation.

  3. How are grades from multiple University of Minnesota campuses considered when calculating the overall grade point average?

    A student's cumulative grade point average is calculated with all of his/her University of Minnesota coursework. Therefore, if a student has coursework at more than one campus of the University (e.g. Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Twin Cities, Rochester), all grades from coursework at all campuses are included in calculating the grade point average.



Primary Contact(s)
Twin Cities Campus
Crookston Campus
Morris Campus
Rochester Campus


Graduating with Distinction
Degree with distinction indicates graduation with a high cumulative grade point average; the words “with distinction” or “with high distinction” are printed on the transcript and on the diploma. 
Graduating with Honors
Degree with honors indicates completion of the campus-specific requirements for the honors program, and is noted on the transcript and on the diploma.
The Honors Program (Morris)
Successful completion of the Honors Program, an interdisciplinary curriculum team-taught by faculty from across the campus, provides the student a degree 'with Honors' in recognition of the student’s achievement.
University Honors Program (Twin Cities)
The University Honors Program (UHP) is a selective program that provides an enriched and intellectually stimulating academic experience for University of Minnesota, Twin Cities students and provides a path toward graduation with Latin Honors. The UHP provides a unique set of experiences for students including tailored curricular offerings, personalized academic advising, and a wide variety of co-curricular opportunities. Students are either offered admission to UHP upon acceptance to the University or can apply for admission to UHP as a current student.

Graduating with Latin Honors (Twin Cities)
Graduation with Latin Honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) is available to those students who have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and have completed the requirements of the University Honors Program. Students who have met the requirements may be considered for the following Latin Honors Graduation Levels:

  • cum laude: 3.500 GPA or higher
  • magna cum laude: 3.666 GPA or higher
  • summa cum laude: 3.750 GPA or higher


There are no responsibilities related to this policy.



January 2011 - Title modified so to clarify that Policy applies to Undergraduate Degrees.
December 2009 - Policy now applies to Crookston.
April 2009

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Last modified on April 16, 2015