The College

Graduating With Honors

You may qualify for a Latin honor at graduation or may apply for honors within your concentration.

University Honors

Because the Brown curriculum has traditionally placed greater weight on the act of learning than on external marks of success, the University grants only one honor at commencement: magna cum laude. Brown's Faculty Rules stipulate that this distinction should be awarded to no more than 20% of the graduating class each year.

Magna is determined not on the grade point average (which Brown does not calculate) but on the percentage of ‘A’ grades and marks of ‘S with distinction’ that a student receives in courses taken at Brown. The distinction mark is not noted on the external transcript; however, it is taken into account by the Committee on Academic Standing when determining the recipients of magna cum laude each year.

The Registrar's website contains more information about computing honors at graduation.

Honors in the Concentration 

Every concentration program allows eligible students to pursue honors in the concentration. Students usually apply for honors in the junior year. Admission into honors is usually based on grades and an honors thesis proposal. Concentration honors are awarded to students whose honors theses meet the criteria established by the academic department.

The pursuit of honors in an academic concentration is an opportunity for intensive engagement. The process of designing a research project, practicing disciplinary ways of thinking, and presenting one's research to others develops expertise and heightened communication skills as well as deepened relationships with a faculty mentor. An honors project prepares students for entry into graduate study and other professions beyond Brown, while also clarifying and culminating the undergraduate experience.

All departments have requirements and deadlines for entry, submission, and awarding of honors. These requirements are approved by the College Curriculum Council (CCC) and published in the University Bulletin. They are also posted on concentration websites. Honors criteria include specific requirements for each of the major stages of the process: becoming an honors candidate; pursuing, completing, and submitting the honors project; and evaluating the candidate’s completed work.

The College Curriculum Council has endorsed a set of best practices and guidelines on grades used for honors eligibility to ensure clarity and consistency across the University.

Students completing more than one concentration who are interested in pursuing honors in more than one concentration may find additional information here.

Midyear Completers

Concentrations typically establish distinct deadlines for students completing degree requirements in December ("midyear completers," often referred to colloquially as ".5ers") – this is also a best practice. Each year, academic programs and departments must  provide the names of Honors candidates who completed degree requirements in the summer, fall, and spring semester by the published deadline prior to May Commencement.

More information