Honors

Senior oral exam committees determine concentration honors on the basis of the student’s performance in the oral exam. This page explains History & Literature's concentration honors process. The concentration honors GPA scale used in History & Literature is available at the bottom of the page.

History & Literature's honors recommendations for joint concentrators take into consideration thesis readings from both concentrations, and a faculty member from the other concentration is often invited to participate in the senior oral exam that confirms honors for primary concentrators in History & Literature.

Concentration Honors

Based on a student's thesis grades, a Committee on Instruction (COI) subcommittee provides each oral exam committee with two English honors options: one recommended (or strongly recommended) grade, and another possible grade. The options are Highest Honors, High Honors, Honors, and No Honors

Students will be informed of the COI subcommittee recommendation when they receive their thesis readings. To be eligible to graduate with Honors in History & Literature, a student must have a concentration GPA of at least 3.0 and receive at least one honors grade on the thesis. Honors-eligible students with a concentration GPA below 3.639 will be strongly recommended for Honors in History & Literature, with High Honors or No Honors as the other option depending on the strength of the thesis readings. To be eligible to graduate with Highest Honors in History & Literature, a student must have a concentration GPA of at least 3.85 and receive at least one summa or summa minus grade on the thesis.

The senior oral exam committee will assign one of the two possible grades. A student must have a strong performance on the oral exam to earn the higher grade. Students will receive their final concentration honors in a letter from History & Literature shortly after Reading Period ends.

Latin Honors

While English honors (also known as departmental honors) are determined by History & Literature based solely on work done in the concentration, Latin honors (also known as College honors) are awarded based on the entirety of the student record.

Recommendations for Latin honors are made to the Governing Boards of the University by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. If departmental honors are awarded, the student may then be recommended to the College for a determination of Latin honors. Thus, the awarding of departmental honors for work in a concentration is a precondition for the recommendation by the College of Latin honors in a field. The standards used to determine Latin honors each May will be applied at subsequent degree meetings until the following May. 

Both English honors and Latin honors are noted on the official transcript. Only Latin honors are designated on the diploma. See the Harvard College Handbook for Students for more information on Latin Honors.

Concentration GPA

All courses that count for concentration credit are factored into the concentration GPA, which can be found on the Academic Advising Report. Grades for courses taken in the second semester of the student’s senior year are not included in the concentration GPA.

If the student is a joint concentrator, courses in both the primary and allied programs are taken into consideration in calculating a joint concentrator's concentration GPA.

Honors GPA scale

Summa 3.925 - 4.000
Summa minus 3.850 - 3.924
Magna plus 3.781 - 3.849
Magna 3.710 - 3.780
Magna minus 3.640 - 3.709
Cum plus 3.427 - 3.639
Cum 3.213 - 3.426
Cum minus 3.000 - 3.212