Friday, 7 July 2017

Investopedia: What is the difference between Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude?

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What is the difference between Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude? By Investopedia | Updated March 30, 2017 — 2:47 PM EDT

A:

"Cum laude" is a Latin term that translates to “with honor” in English. "Magna cum laude" means “with great honor,” and "summa cum laude" means “with greatest honor." In U.S. academics, the terms designate graduates who have distinguished themselves with exceptional grades or performances in a particular area of concentration or field of endeavor.

Requirements for achieving an honors degree vary. At the prestigious Harvard University, honors candidates must have at least a C-minus average and be recommended by university faculty for an honors degree. The summa cum laude designation is reserved for just 5% of students and awarded only to exceptional candidates who have demonstrated mastery of a particular field. Typically, this requires that the student has completed independent study, written an academic paper or performed exceptionally well on an exam. The standards for magna cum laude honors are similar but less rigorous.

Other colleges base honors degrees strictly on grade point average (GPA). At Weber University in Utah, students earn cum laude honors if they achieve a GPA of 3.6 or above; magna cum laude and summa cum laude require GPAs of 3.8 and 3.9 respectively. The University of Washington at Seattle awards honors degrees based on the student’s GPA and area of academic concentration. For instance, students who are majoring in education must have a GPA of at least 3.96 to earn summa cum laude honors, but students at the school of medicine earn the same honors with a GPA of 3.87 or above.

Only 10% of students at the University of Washington at Seattle earn honors degrees. By contrast, Harvard awards cum laude or higher honors to 50% of its graduating students each May.

Whether or not achieving magna cum laude or summa cum laude honors translates into greater success in life is debatable. Although college graduates typically out-earn nongraduates, those with high GPAs fare no better in life than those with average grades.
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