Cum Laude

What is Cum Laude?

Cum laude is a Latin phrase that translates to “with praise” or “with honor” and it’s used to acknowledge a high level of academic achievement. Schools often grant this title to graduates who have excelled in their studies, marking their degrees with this honor. It’s a notable achievement many include on their resumes to highlight their academic success during their time in higher education.

In the United States, cum laude is one of three levels of distinction that universities award. The highest is summa cum laude, which means “with highest honor,” followed by magna cum laude or “with great honor.” You can see a clear distinction of the honors in this Wordle Magazine table:

Distinction Cum Laude Magna Cum Laude Summa Cum Laude
Translation Latin for “with praise” Latin for “with great distinction” Latin for “with highest distinction”
Achievement Level Above average academic achievement Higher than cum laude, but not the highest Highest academic achievement
Typical Criteria Lower GPA requirement than magna and summa, e.g., 3.4-3.6 at many universities Higher GPA than cum laude, e.g., 3.6-3.8 at many universities Highest GPA, often 3.8-4.0 at many universities
Relative Rank Awarded to a broader group of students than magna and summa Smaller group than cum laude but larger than summa Awarded to the top tier, smallest group among the three
Additional Requirements Often requires good academic standing with no additional specific accomplishments May include honors courses or a thesis depending on the institution Often requires completion of a thesis, honors courses, or comprehensive exams

Students achieving excellent grades

These distinctions known as Latin honors, are predominantly used in the U.S. and are less common in other parts of the world. Students earn these honors by achieving excellent grades and overall academic performance.

Key Takeaways

  • Cum laude is one of three Latin honors awarded at graduation, the others are summa cum laude and magna cum laude.
  • The phrase means “with distinction,” “with honor” or “with praise.”
  • Schools set specific academic criteria that students must meet to qualify for each honor.
  • Students cannot apply or campaign for Latin honors, they are given based on academic achievement.
  • To be considered for cum laude, a student must maintain a specific grade point average.

Understanding Academic Honors

Cum laude marks a notable level of academic achievement. Magna cum laude steps up the recognition to “with high honor” or “with high praise,” while summa cum laude represents the highest level of academic praise achievable.

Guidelines & Recognition

Each university or college sets its own criteria for earning these distinctions. Typically, these expectations are clearly outlined and vary from one institution to another. During graduation ceremonies students who have earned Latin honors are often acknowledged and these distinctions appear on their diplomas. Additionally, graduates receiving these honors may wear special symbols, such as a distinctive sash or a uniquely colored tassel on their mortarboard, to signify their academic success.

“In 1869, Harvard University became the first academic institution in the United States to bestow cum laude and other Latin awards.”

Criteria for Cum Laude

Latin honors such as cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude recognize exceptional academic achievement. To earn these honors, students typically need a high grade-point average (GPA), a top class ranking, completion of a specific number of credit hours and other notable academic accomplishments.

University awarding latin honors

Many universities award Latin honors based on GPA thresholds. Generally, a GPA of 3.5 or higher is required for cum laude, with even higher GPAs needed for magna cum laude and summa cum laude. These honors are awarded based on the student’s final GPA alone.

Some institutions allocate Latin honors to a set percentage of each graduating class. This system ensures that only the top-performing students, often just a small fraction, receive such distinctions. The criteria are even stricter for magna cum laude and summa cum laude honors.

Additional Academic Achievements

At Ivy League and other highly competitive schools, a standout GPA might not suffice for honors. Faculty committees also review students’ overall academic records and achievements, such as exceptional papers, published articles and well-researched projects. Typically, professors recommend honors for students whose academic work goes above and beyond normal expectations.

“The cum laude honor is that it typically requires a student to achieve a specific grade point average (GPA) to qualify. This GPA threshold varies by institution but often ranges from 3.5 to 3.7 on a 4.0 scale for the cum laude designation. This practice emphasizes consistent academic excellence throughout a student’s college career.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude & Summa Cum Laude?

Cum laude signifies a notable level of academic achievement, magna cum laude translates to “with great praise” and is a step above cum laude, while summa cum laude, meaning “highest praise” or “highest honor,” is the top academic accolade. These honors can be based on various factors including GPA, class ranking or other significant academic accomplishments.

Can you Give an Example of How Cum Laude is Awarded?

At the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school, students need a GPA of at least 3.4 to graduate cum laude. In contrast, New York University grants the cum laude honor to students who are in the top 30% of their graduating class. Additionally, some colleges within NYU use their own unique ranking systems. The criteria for awarding these honors vary significantly between different educational institutions.

Is it Challenging to Earn a Cum Laude Designation?

Earning cum laude typically requires maintaining an above-average to high GPA, which demands consistent academic performance and dedication.

Final Bite

Cum laude is a Latin phrase that schools use to recognize students who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance.

Job seekers often include the cum laude designation on their resumes to highlight their academic achievements and stand out from other candidates.

In the U.S., schools typically award cum laude based on GPA or other notable academic accomplishments, a practice more common in the U.S. than in other countries.

Wordle Magazine explains: Achieving cum laude is not merely about earning high grades, it’s a testament to a student’s perseverance, dedication and intellectual curiosity. This distinction symbolizes a commitment to academic excellence and can serve as a motivating factor for continuous personal and professional growth beyond the university walls.”

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