System Procedure 3.18.1 Honorary Degrees

System Procedures
Chapter 3 - Educational Policies

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for Board Policy 3.18

Part 1. Purpose
To identify the awards that may be conferred, provide guidelines for selection of honorary degree recipients, provide limits to the number of honorary degrees, and specify how awards are presented.

Part 2. Authorized Honorary Awards
Colleges and universities may select from the following categories of honorary degrees based upon the intended recipient's field(s) of contribution, achievement, service, and distinction.

  1. Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (Hon. D.F.A.)
  2. Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (Hon. LH.D.)
  3. Honorary Doctor of Laws (Hon. LL.D.)
  4. Honorary Doctor of Literature (Hon. Litt.D.)
  5. Honorary Doctor of Education (Hon. D.Ed.)
  6. Honorary Doctor of Science (Hon. Sc.D.)
  7. Honorary Doctor of Engineering and Technology (Hon. D. Eng. & Tech.)
  8. Honorary Doctor of Business (Hon. D.B.)

Part 3. Guidelines for Selection

Subpart A. Intention
Honorary degrees should recognize and honor persons who have made exceptional contributions to a specific field or to society in general.

Subpart B. Procedures
Each college and university shall establish procedures for recommending candidates for honorary degrees. These procedures should include provisions for consultation with the institution's faculty.

Subpart C. Justification for awards
Service or benefaction to the college or university does not in itself provide justification for the award of an honorary degree. To be recognized and honored, the candidate must be distinguished with a regional, national or international reputation.

Part 4. Limits to the Number of Honorary Degrees

Subpart A. Colleges and universities granting honorary degrees generally should limit their award to no more than one per commencement ceremony.

Subpart B. Colleges and Universities may grant a second honorary degree in a different category to a person when there are compelling circumstances.

Part 5. Presentation of Honorary Degrees
Honorary degrees are typically awarded during commencement exercises, and on occasion, at convocations, presidential inaugurations, or other similar ceremonies.  The recipient should agree to be present as a condition of receiving the awards.  An honorary degree may be awarded in absentia in the case of compelling or extraordinary circumstances.

Part 6. Report to System Office
Colleges and universities that have awarded honorary degrees shall submit an annual report in September of each year to the senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. The report must include information about the type of degrees awarded, the names of the recipients, and the rationale for the award.

Part 7. History of Honorary Degrees Awarded
A history of honorary degrees awarded will be maintained on the Minnesota State website at

Related Documents:

System Procedure History:

Date of Adoption: 01/30/09
Date of Implementation: 01/30/09
Date of Last Review: 12/06/18

Date & Subject of Amendments:

12/06/18 – Part 2 amended to include Honorary Doctor of Business (Hon. D.B.). Language and formatting were updated throughout the procedure according to the new writing and formatting styles.

8/26/13 - Part 1 amended to clarify language. Part 2 amended to include Honorary Doctor of Engineering and Technology. Part 4 amended to clarify when a second honorary degree can be awarded. Part 5 amended to improve the process used for presentation of honorary degrees. Part 6 and Part 7 were added.

3/18/09 - Language was corrected in Parts 1-3.

No additional HISTORY.