The following section provides information to L&S undergraduates regarding graduation with distinction, distinction in the major, and thesis of distinction.
Graduation with Distinction will be noted on the transcript of students who have earned a grade point average (GPA) that places them within the top 20 percent of students graduating that term in Letters & Science provided the student has earned 60 or more credits at UW-Madison. The query to determine which students will qualify for the Graduation with Distinction will be run once all grades and degrees are posted. This usually happens in late June/early July for May graduates. Once the query is run the notation will be entered manually for each student.
Three things need to be completed before "Graduation with Distinction" can be calculated:
- All final term grades must be posted for all undergraduate students.
- The degree audit processes must be completed for all students expecting graduation.
- All undergraduate degrees must be posted for all students expecting graduation for the academic year.
Distinction in the Major: The award of Distinction in the Major is granted at graduation, upon the recommendation of a department to the Dean of the College of Letters & Science, to any L&S undergraduate student not earning the Honors degree (i.e., Honors in the Liberal Arts, Honors in the Major, Comprehensive Honors) who has done outstanding work in the major and who has passed a comprehensive examination on that work. The award is noted on the student's official transcript.
- L&S undergraduate students expecting to graduate with at least 60 residence credits completed or in progress who cumulative grade point average (CUM GPA) places them in the top 20% of their graduating class are invited to wear the honors stole at the Commencement ceremony. The student's CUM GPA will be rounded to the second decimal.)
- L&S undergraduate students will receive an E-mail if they qualify for this graduation distinction.
- Information about honors stoles and commencement attire can be found at Cap and Gown.
- Students who meet the same criteria after all course work is completed have "Graduation with Distinction" posted to their academic records (transcripts) and not on their diplomas.
- Students whose names were noted in the commencement program as "graduating with distinction" might or might not actually do so since the measure is comparative and it shifts.
- Students not noted in the program as receiving this honor may ultimately earn this distinction once all grades have been posted.
- The GPA cut off for August graduates is always the same as the cut off for spring GPA cutoff.
Note: UW-Madison (except for the Law School) does not use the Latin honors cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude to indicate level of distinction when conferring academic degrees. Instead, L&S undergraduate students are eligible to receive one of the distinctions listed above at the end of their academic career.
Please see the Guide for information about several ways in which the College of Letters & Science recognizes academic excellence achieved by L&S undergraduates.