New Latin Honors Policy

Please note: This change to the college’s policy on Latin honors was introduced in spring 2023. All students  graduating through May 2026 will be awarded the higher of the two Latin honors levels that they earn under the earlier system and this new system. Beginning with the class of 2027, eligibility for Latin honors will be determined for all students using the new system only.


Degree with Honors

The requirements for graduation with a degree with honors are as follows: The degree bachelor of arts with honors is awarded at graduation to students whose academic records give evidence of particular merit. Latin honors are awarded to students completing a thesis within their major department or program. English honors are awarded to students solely on the basis of performance in course work. The awarding of both Latin and English honors will be made by the faculty of the College, and will appear on the diploma. In making such awards, the faculty will observe the following guidelines:

Latin Honors

Latin honors eligibility is based on two College-wide criteria: median grade and a breadth requirement.

Candidates who have a median grade lower than A– or who have not satisfied the breadth requirement are eligible for cum laude honors if they receive a departmental recommendation of any level of honors from a department or program in which they have majored, on the basis of a thesis or comparable work and on any additional criteria defined by the department or program.

Candidates who have a median grade of A– and have satisfied the breadth requirement are eligible for magna cum laude honors if they receive a departmental recommendation of summa cum laude or magna cum laude from a department or program in which they have majored, on the basis of a thesis or comparable work and on any additional criteria defined by the department or program; or for cum laude honors if they receive a departmental recommendation of cum laude.

Candidates who have a median grade higher than A– and have satisfied the breadth requirement are eligible for the level of honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude) that is recommended by a department or program in which they have majored, on the basis of a thesis or comparable work and on any additional criteria defined by the department or program. Students who are eligible and recommended for summa cum laude will also have their entire record, including a letter of support prepared by the recommending department or program and signed by the members of the thesis committee and the department chair, reviewed by the provost and dean of the faculty and the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), who will transmit their recommendations to the faculty. Members of the FEC are given access to theses that are recommended for summa cum laude and have the option of reviewing these theses.

A student’s median grade is based on all full courses taken for a letter grade in the Five College consortium. Double, triple, and quadruple courses are weighted according to their credit values, whereas half courses are excluded from the median grade determination.

The breadth requirement consists of passing one full or two half courses at Amherst College in each of four categories: Arts, Humanities, Sciences and Mathematics, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The category designation for a course is determined by the four-letter subject code in the course number. The designation of a cross-listed course is determined by the four-letter subject code that appears on the student’s transcript.

CategorySubject Codes
ArtsARCH, ARHA, MUSI, MUSL, THDA
HumanitiesAMST, ARAB, ASLC, BLST, CHIN, CLAS, EDST, ENGL, ENST, EUST, FAMS, FREN, GERM, GREE, HIST, JAPA, LATI, LJST, LLAS, PHIL,RELI, RUSS, SPAN, SWAG
Sciences and MathematicsASTR, BCBP, BIOL, CHEM, COSC, GEOL, MATH, NEUR, PHYS, STAT
Social and Behavioral SciencesANTH, ECON, POSC, PSYC, SOCI
  • The subject codes COLQ, FYSE, and INTE do not count in any breadth requirement category.
  • The category designation for a new subject code or a change to the category designation of an existing subject code requires approval by the Committee on Educational Policy.

Distinction Candidates eligible for a degree with distinction must have an overall grade point average in the top 25 percent of their class.