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What is the application process for getting an honorary degree?

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Quick Answer

The application process for receiving an honorary degree includes a nomination process and selection by a committee. This specific steps vary depending on the college or university. While some institutions allow individuals to apply on their own behalf, other schools require a third-party nomination for consideration.

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Full Answer

For schools that allow self-nomination, an individual generally applies by submitting a letter of interest in obtaining a degree. In addition, a biography is provided to highlight significant professional successes and exemplify why the conferment of an honorary degree is appropriate.

Most colleges and universities require a third-party nomination for degree consideration. University trustees, faculty members or administrators provide names of potential honorees to a committee. The committee then meets to discuss the various nominations and narrow down the pool of applicants. The school notifies selected honorees, who receive their honorary degrees during the school's commencement ceremony. Some honorary degree recipients make substantial donations to the school in exchange for the degree.

Schools confer honorary degrees on individuals who have made significant contributions to society, such artists, philanthropists, musicians or entrepreneurs. Politicians and scientists may also receive honorary degrees. The guidelines for acceptance vary depending on the college or university. Rutgers University requires that honorees demonstrate outstanding achievements in their specialized fields of interest and show commitment to public service.

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