Honorary Degree Guide: What Is an Honorary Degree?

Honorary Degree

You probably know a person with an honorary degree from a reputable learning institution. However, you might not know much about this degree or what it entails. Every year, thousands of students graduate with different types of degrees from various universities. For most learners, this award marks the culmination of many years of hard work, dedicated scholarship, tuition dues, and emotional breakdown.

However, these students are sometimes joined by business moguls and celebrities on stage. These individuals also receive an honorary doctorate degree. But unlike the learners, these luminaries get a free pass. They bypass the usual requirements for being awarded a degree. And this has left many people wondering how relevant these degrees are.

What is an Honorary Degree?

A major reason for reading this article is probably to find the answer to the question, “what is an honorary degree?” Most experts define an honorary degree as an academic award that a university gives an individual as recognition for lifetime achievement in a specific field or the exceptional contributions they have made to their society.

The recipient of this degree doesn’t have to meet the typical or usual requirements like completing a university thesis or passing examinations. Additionally, universities confer this degree on individuals from different walks of life. For instance, over 2,300 people have received a Harvard honorary degree since the establishment of this institution in 1692. Temple University has also awarded this degree to more than 900 individuals.

How to Get an Honorary Degree

At this point, the question is no longer, “what does an honorary degree mean?” However, you might want to know how to get an honorary doctorate degree. Well, some people apply for this degree while others are nominated. Here is the procedure for getting this award.

  • Preparation: Start by preparing your resume that includes your professional and educational background. Also site your philanthropic work, honors you may have received, and published works.
  • References: Ask relevant and reputable sources to write reference letters for you indicating your accomplishments and how they relate to you. They should also explain the duration for which they’ve known you.
  • Research: Decide on the honorary master’s degree or doctorate that suits your professional and personal accomplishments. You can also choose an honorary Ph.D. degree in a specific educational field. However, this option is not easy to get because it’s mostly awarded to former presidents, humanitarians, and authors.
  • Apply: You can also apply for this degree via a university program. With this option, most universities require honorary degree recipients to donate to these programs. What’s more, they should contact the university about their donation amount, application requirements, and process. The university sends a rejection or approval letter after receiving the application.

Honorary doctorate degree criteria may vary from one institution to another. However, this is the general process. Nevertheless, you can contact your preferred institution for more information. Most universities have sites with information or honorary degree templates for the application process. Some college or university departments also have professionals that can answer the “how do you earn an honorary doctorate degree” question.

Is Honorary Degree a Real Degree?

From the honorary degree meaning, this award is a real degree. That’s because an accredited university or college awards a deserving person this degree. However, this degree is not equivalent to a doctorate in clinical research, education, Ph.D., or any other academic field.

As such, this degree doesn’t have professional or academic privileges associated with it. People can call a person a Doctor but they shouldn’t use this title in written communication or when referring to themselves.

Honorary Doctorate Degree List

Now that you’ve known what this degree is about and how to get it, you may want to know the honorary bachelor’s degree or doctorate that you may apply for. Here are some of the degrees you can apply for:

  • Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
  • Doctor of Fine Arts (D.Ed.)
  • Doctor of Science (D.S)
  • Doctor of Humane Letters (D.H.L degree)
  • Doctor of Public Service (D.P.S)
  • Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree (D.D.)
  • Doctor of Mathematics

Each school decides on the honorary degree to confer the applicants. However, most are often honorary doctorates.

What Can You Do with an Honorary Degree?

On learning about this degree, most people ask, what is an honorary degree good for? Well, this degree commands respect, although some people see it as an ornamental award. Most people are proud of their title even while knowing they can practice.

Nevertheless, this degree provides worthy recognition among academics. Most institutions consider this certificate and accept it gratefully. So, if still wondering, what good is an honorary degree, bear in mind that the title can earn you respect in most places.

Today, many institutions have honorary degree online programs. If you feel that you have made a significant contribution in your field, check out these programs and then apply for this award.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an honorary degree equivalent to a traditional academic degree?
No, an honorary degree is not equivalent to a traditional academic degree, as it is a recognition of an individual's achievements and contributions rather than a result of completing a course of study.
How can someone be nominated for an honorary degree?
Nomination for an honorary degree can be made by anyone in the academic or public sphere, including faculty members, alumni, trustees, or community leaders. The candidate's accomplishments should align with the university’s values and mission, and the nomination should be supported by evidence of their impact and achievements.