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.

Concentration Honors

A Committee on Instruction (COI) subcommittee takes the student's thesis grades and concentration GPA into account in providing their oral exam committee with two English honors options: one recommended (or strongly recommended) grade, and another possible grade. Honors grades include 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 eligilbe to graduate with honors in History & Literature, a student must have a concentration GPA of at least 3.0 and have received honors grades on the thesis. 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 learn their final concentration honors grade by picking up a letter from the History & Literature office shortly after Reading Period ends. For distinctions between concentration honors and College honors, please see the Harvard College Handbook for Students.

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

Prior to the senior oral exam, students receive honors recommendations that take into account thesis grades and 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 spring 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. 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. 

History & Literature must be the primary concentration in any joint plan of study, except when the student plans to pursue a creative senior thesis. Students pursuing creative theses will follow the honors process of the department providing artistic training and will not take History & Literature's oral exam. 

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