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Latin Honors

Each year approximately 25 percent of the graduating class is awarded the bachelor's degree with Latin honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude) and/or with honors in the department of the major.

Eligibility for Latin honors is determined by:

  1. Distribution of courses in the seven major fields
    of knowledge

Students who wish to become eligible for Latin honors at graduation must elect at least one course (normally 4 credits) in each of the seven major fields of knowledge listed in the catalogue.

Course listings in the catalogue indicate in curly brackets which area(s) of knowledge a given course covers:

  • {A} the arts
  • {F} foreign language*
  • {H} historical studies
  • {L} literature
  • {N} natural science
  • {M} mathematics and analytic philosophy
  • {S} social science

Not all Smith courses carry Latin honors designations. Any particular 4-credit course may be used to cover only one field of knowledge. Partial credit courses completed at Smith or through transfer may be combined with other courses in the same field for a total of at least 4 credits to satisfy distribution requirements. A course may be used only once to satisfy distribution requirements.

Eligible Courses

  • All Smith College courses totaling 4 credits or more with a Latin honors designation taken in any year (including the first year)
  • Unclassified five college, transfer and non-Smith study abroad courses, upon approval of the appropriate application form**
  • With approval of the departments, a Smith special studies course

Ineligible Courses

  • Advance Placement courses
  • Other pre matriculation credits

*One year of an introductory language course or one course at a higher level satisfies the foreign language Latin honors requirement. Students who are non-native speakers of English may, with the permission of a class dean, offer any two courses in the English department at the 100-level (or one course at a higher level) to satisfy the "foreign language" part of the Latin honors requirement. Non-native speakers of English are considered to be those who indicated on their advising form that English was not their first language, have had several years of education in a school where the language of instruction was other than English, and can read, write and speak this language.

**Students may apply to the registrar's office to have unclassified five college and transfer credits assigned designations by submitting the application form below with course descriptions to the registrar's office for review.

  1. A minimum number of graded credits after the
    first year

In order to be eligible for Latin honors, students must have a minimum of 48 graded credits that have been taken after the first year (i.e., in the sophomore, junior and senior years). If a student spends her sophomore, junior or senior year away from campus (with the exception of Smith JYA or Washington programs), grades from the remaining two years are counted. Grades from the first year are never counted.

  1. Grades

The minimum grade point average for Latin honors varies each year depending on the overall grade distribution of those eligible in the senior class and is not published. It is impossible to determine the minimum GPA in advance.

Eligible Grades

  • Smith College grades
  • Smith JYA grades
  • Smithsonian Program grades
  • Picker Program grades
  • Five College interchange courses (taken during the semester only, not during interterm or during the summer)

Ineligible Grades

  • First-year grades, even those taken at Smith*
  • Transfer grades of any kind
  • Summer school grades
  • Study abroad grades on non-Smith JYA programs
  • All S/U or P/F grades*

*Courses successfully completed during the first year or with grades of S/U or P/F may be used to satisfy the distribution requirements but are not calculated in the GPA and therefore do not count in the minimum 48 graded credits need to be considered for Latin honors.

Students may view a summary report of their progress towards satisfying the distribution requirements through BannerWeb. The report includes a list of her courses successfully completed/transferred with their credits, grades and Latin honors designation(s). Courses for which the grades of E, F, W or U were received are not listed. The report also displays an indication of whether or not the student has satisfied the distribution based on completed courses to date. Any student, particularly a senior, who believes the report does not accurately represent progress towards completion of these requirements, should consult with the registrar's office.

A notation of "Liberal Arts Commendation" will be added to the transcript of any student who completes the distribution requirements but is not awarded Latin honors.

Students must complete the Latin honors distribution requirements in order to be considered for election to Phi Beta Kappa.