Cum Laude

DEFINITION of 'Cum Laude'

Cum laude is an academic level of distinction that educational institutions use to signify an academic degree that was received with honor. Cum laude is one of three commonly used types of Latin honors recognized in the United States, the other two being summa cum laude and magna cum laude.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cum Laude'

The guidelines by which each level of academic honors is achieved differs between academic institutions. However, every university or college typically outlines its expectations for each honor. Although Latin honors are quite common in the United States, very few countries around the world use the Latin system.

The names for the three levels of academic honors come from Latin. Cum laude means "with honor" or "with praise." Even higher are the honors magna cum laude, which means "with high honor" or "with high praise." Summa cum laude bestows the highest honor or praise on its recipient. Because the terms come from Latin, these honors are often called "Latin honors."

Qualification for Latin Honors

Some universities bestows Latin honors at set levels of grade point average (GPA). Typically, a GPA of 3.5 or higher is required to receive the cum laude designation, with higher GPAs required for magna cum laude and summa cum laude honors. The designation is based only an individual student's final GPA as of graduation.

Other universities reserve Latin honors for a stated percentage of each graduating class with, for example, only the top 25% of a class receiving any honors and smaller percentages receiving the magna cum laude and summa cum laude honors designations. At highly competitive schools, such as Ivy League universities, GPA alone may not be enough to earn honors. In these cases, faculty committees consider students' academic records and achievements, and faculty members may recommend honors for exceptional students. Students are never allowed to apply or campaign for Latin honors.

Indications of Latin Honors

Students receiving Latin honors are typically noted as such in graduation programs, and the designation appears on the student's diploma. Students graduating with honors may also be allowed to wear some sort of special insignia at graduation.

The cum laude designation should appear on a job seeker's resume in the section about education. The proper way to list Latin honors is either after the listing of the degree itself and/or in a separate honors section on the resume. Because academic honors are in Latin, they should be italicized. Lesser honors, such as appearing on a dean's list or the equivalent, are not required on a resume if Latin honors are included.