Academic Honors and Commencement

Recognition of Student Academic Achievement. Student achievement is recognized by the University of Mary Washington in several ways. At the end of each semester, the University publishes The President’s List and The Dean’s List of Honor Students. Outstanding student achievement is also acknowledged at Commencement with a variety of honors and awards, and other recognitions are presented at annual Convocation ceremonies. In addition, most academic departments sponsor University chapters of national honor societies which recognize student achievement in specific disciplines.  These academic discipline honor societies and their criteria for election to membership are published annually in the Student Handbook.

Dean’s List and President’s List. At the close of a semester’s grading period, each degree-seeking student who has completed at least twelve credits of course work on which grade points can be computed and attained a gradepoint average of 3.50 to 3.99 on that work earns a place on the Dean’s List of Honor Students for the semester.

At the close of a semester’s grading period, each degree-seeking student who has completed at least twelve credits of course work on which grade points can be computed and attained a grade-point average of 4.00 on that work earns a place on the President’s List of Honor Students for the semester.

Commencement. The date for the degree awarded is the conclusion of the summer, fall or spring terms in which all the degree requirements were completed. The student is cleared for the degree award and the degree is posted on the official transcript at the conclusion of the summer, fall or spring terms in which all degree requirements were completed and all other obligations to the university have been met. Students submit degree applications during the second semester of the junior year. Participation in Commencement exercises is limited to those official degree candidates who have completed all degree requirements and met all obligations to the university.

Academic Distinction. The University recognizes the academic achievement of graduating bachelor’s degree students who have earned at least 60 resident credits through the awards of Cum Laude (3.25-3.49 cumulative grade-point average), Magna Cum Laude (3.50-3.74 grade-point average), and Summa Cum Laude (3.75-4.00 grade-point average). The University recognizes the academic achievement of all graduating bachelor’s degree students who have earned at least 30 but fewer than 60 resident credits through the awards of With Distinction (3.30-3.74 grade-point average) and With Highest Distinction (3.75-4.00 grade-point average). Students eligible for one set of awards are ineligible for the other set. These awards are based solely on the student’s gradepoint average at the University of Mary Washington, and the requisite hours include only those UMW credits for which grade points can be computed.

Departmental Honors. Students may earn graduation with honors in their major subjects. Each department establishes its own requirements for honors projects or theses. All departments require that a student intending to undertake an honors project have a specified minimum grade-point average in the major subject and a minimum grade-point average for all work taken at the University of Mary Washington.

University Honors. Students fulfilling all of the requirements for the University Honors Program (complete a minimum of 6 credits per year of honors work, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2, complete the required seminar and service project, and participate in required co-curricular events) will earn University Honors.

Colgate W. Darden, Jr. Award. Established in 1960, this award honors Colgate W. Darden, Jr., President of the University of Virginia from 1947 to 1959. It consists of a medal designed by Gaetano Cecere, formerly of the Department of Art, and a cash award. It is presented to the senior having the highest University of Mary Washington grade-point average. To be eligible, a student must have earned at least 94 UMW credits on which grade points can be computed.

Outstanding BPS Student Award. An award is presented annually to the outstanding graduate in the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree program. To be nominated for the award, the student must have a minimum 3.8 GPA, and must demonstrate academic excellence beyond the GPA. The student must also demonstrate leadership, enthusiasm, commitment, and professional potential.

Mortar Board. Mortar Board is the national senior honorary recognizing those students who combine outstanding records of scholarship, leadership, and service. Founded as a women’s honorary in 1918, it has been open to both men and women since 1976.

Phi Beta Kappa. The oldest and most prestigious of national academic honor societies, Phi Beta Kappa recognizes the superior achievement of juniors and seniors in the pursuit of a liberal education. With only some 300 approved Phi Beta Kappa chapters nationwide, the installation of the University of Mary Washington’s Kappa of Virginia chapter in 1971 attests to the quality of the University as well as of its students, who are elected to membership by the Phi Beta Kappa faculty members and alumni who constitute the present Kappa of Virginia chapter.