The Path to Public Service at SEAS


Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum


Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President


Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study


Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum

Divisionals' End, Finals' Approach Recalls Degrees With Honors in Past

23 Per Cent of Class Received Honors in 1921 to 42 Per Cent of Last Year


With divisional exams almost ever, finals approaching, and Seniors turning their thoughts to Degrees with Honors, it is interesting to note the number of men who received Honors in previous years and the percentages of summa cum laude degrees awarded in each year.

Under the old rules that prevailed until 1907 approximately 35 per cent of the class received Honors of some form. An average of 5 per cent of the Honors men received a summa cum laude Roughly 450 constituted the total number of degrees awarded.

New Rules

The new rules adopted in 1907 were very close to the rules that prevail today and provided for the award of Honors in some specific field other than in General Studies. Degrees cum laude were to be given in general studies, but summas were to be given only in "extraordinary cases."

Immediately, as a result of the new rules, the number of Honors men fell to about 25 per cent of the class, while several "extraordinary cases" were still found, so that the number of degrees summa cum laude was about 2 per cent of those receiving Honors. The total number of degrees remained about the same as in the preceding period.

Bans Lifted

In 1912 the unusual restrictions on the summa award were lifted and this was reflected by the rise to 4 per cent Honors men receiving summas that year.

Since 1921, when the rules for Honors were practically the same as they are today, the number of men receiving Honors has risen sharply from 23 per cent to 42 per cent of the class last year. During this period the total number of degrees conferred was about 600. Approximately 7 per cent of the Honors men received summas during this period; the record was set in 1930, when 21 men won highest honors.

Recently the Faculty met to decide whether changes should be instituted so as to cut down the number of degrees summa cum laude, but after a long discussion, they decided to leave the rules as they are at present. Since 1933 when 20 men, or about 8 per cent, were awarded summas, the number has fallen steadily and last year only 2 out of 266 Honors men, or about 4 1/2 per cent won top honors.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.