Graduation ceremony is a wonderful event to attend. It is a special moment to be celebrated with friends and family after completion from educational institution. Often we hear among the graduates have titled such as cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude. So, what are the meaning of these titles?
In general, these terms are explaining about student accomplishment during their study and are used to refer to college students who have met high academic standards and at the time of graduation and are receiving their bachelor’s degree. These terms are used to designate graduates who have distinguished themselves with exceptional grades or performances in particular of a field. These words originally come from Latin’s words. The meaning of each term translated to English is as follows.
- Cum laude means graduating with honour. Cum laude itself can be translated as With Praise. Cum laude honour graduated with honours and graduate cum laude all involve a high GPA.
- Magna Cum Laude definition is WITH Great Honour. It defines as With Great Praise. It usually means holding the second best grade.
- Summa Cum Laude defines as With Highest Praise and the definition is With Highest Honor. It usually means he highest grades.
This system of education recognition is used mostly in the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe. The requirement for achieving these titles are varied for each education institution. In Harvard University, for example, the honors candidate must have at least a C- average and be recommended by university faculty for an honours degree. The highest honour, summa cum laude, is designated only for 5% of the students and awarded only to exceptional students who demonstrated a matter of a particular field. For achieving this title, the nominee has completed the independent study, performed exceptionally well in an exam or written an academic paper. The standard for magna cum laude honours is similar with summa cum laude except it less rigorous. In term of grades, the requirement at some college and university is a 3.9 or 4.0 average over four years of college for summa cum laude. In reality, very few students are able to achieve these high grades or the magna cum laude which requires a 3.8 out of 4.0 overall average for all four years of undergraduate work. Whereas, cum laude is presented to students with averages of 3.65.
In reality how many students actually, achieve and hold these titles? For your information at Harvard University, which is known for having difficult courses, only the top two percent of graduates receive summa cum laude, a few less than two percent receive Magna cum laude, and around four percent receive cum laude.
Historically, Harvard University was the first college to use Latin honours in 1869. At first, to obtained a magna cum laude it required only an 80 percent average. A dissertation is also required for the department to bestow the award on the student. Today’s standards are more strict because, in order to receive Magna status, a student could only collect a few B’s as semester grades over their entire four years of college, and the rest of the grades would need to be A’s.
Why is this important among undergraduate degree culture, especially in the US? Normally, the graduates list their educational awards on their resumes, and these sometimes lead to being hired for their first job over another student who may have graduated with a 2.0 average. Thus, it becomes a tradition in every American college and university, and students work hard to achieve them.
Whether or having these titles; magna cum laude or summa cum laude honours translates into greater success in life is debatable. Overall, those with high GPAs fare no better in life than those with average grades.