As it is getting closer to college graduation time you may hear the term honorary doctorate degree. But what does this mean? In general, an honorary doctorate degree is an academic degree given by a degree-granting institution, usually a university. What makes an honorary degree different from an earned degree is that all requirements are waved.
Traditional earned doctorate degrees require extensive academic writing and research. Above all, to obtain an earned doctorate you must be enrolled and take courses at the school. This is not the case with an honorary doctorate degree.
Those that receive an honorary degree does not have to matriculate through a specific program, they do not need any credits, or pass a preliminary examination or dissertation defense. The degree is given based on honor.
Often times, an honorary doctorate is conferred as a way to honor and celebrate someone’s contributions to a specific field or industry. This person does not need any prior connection to the institution. In fact, there are some people with honorary doctorate degrees that do not have any educational background or degrees.
Criteria for Honorary Doctorate Degrees
Although you do not have to follow the traditional measures of a doctorate degree, there are still criteria to be awarded an honorary degree.
First, an individual must have altruistic actions or notable accomplishments in society. Their accomplishments and humanitarian actions must benefit the greater good of the community, nation, or world.
There are two ways someone can receive an honorary degree:
- If the school allows, an individual can apply to be considered for the degree
- The most common approach is that schools accept nominations by a third party to consider candidates
The criteria for acceptance vary by institution. Some schools have more strict policies than others. Many of the more prestigious ivy league colleges have a stricter policy and a more competitive process for honorary degrees.
Do People with Honorary Doctorates Have the Title Dr.?
When it comes to listing an honorary degree on your resume or CV, institutions prefer you to list them as an award and not as an earned degree in the education section. Most institutions of higher education make it known to recipients that can use the title of “Doctor” but to not present it as an earned doctorate.
Depending on the institution, some have language drafted that may limit the use of the title “Dr.” For the most part, beneficiaries of an honorary doctorate degree can use the title of doctor.
What Is the Value of An Honorary Doctorate?
You may be wondering what is the purpose of an honorary doctorate? Or how can it benefit you? A common statement seen is that honorary doctorates are fake degrees. Well, an honorary doctorate is actually a real degree. Since it is awarded by a degree-granted institution, it is considered a real degree. it is important to note that an honorary doctorate is not equivalent to an earned doctorate like a Ph.D. or Ed.D.
So, what can someone do with an honorary doctorate? Someone can use the degree abbreviations behind their name for notoriety. The title should not be used on business cards or any written communication with the term “honoris” to indicate the degree as being honorary.
Recipients of this degree can highlight the accomplishment on their resume and bio. This is simply another accolade for individuals to celebrate. In fact, according to expressuniversitydegree.com, most individuals that receive an honorary doctorate degree are already so distinguished and accomplished that the award probably does not add any monetary compensation, but more so recognition of their work.
The Different Types of Honorary Doctorates
There is not one set list of honorary doctorates that all schools grant. Each institution is responsible for determining the type of honorary doctorate they will award. The list below highlights the most common honorary doctorates awarded:
- Doctor of Arts (D.A.)
- Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
- Doctor of Education (D.Ed.)
- Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.)
- Doctor of Public Service (D.P.S.)
- Doctor of Science (D.S.)
To receive an honorary doctorate degree is an esteemed honor. Although the recipient did not matriculate through and earned a doctorate program, the degree is awarded to honor their success and accomplishments in a specific area.