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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Graduation Applications and Latin Honors

Graduation Applications

Each candidate for a degree or certificate must file a formal application with the Office of the Registrar. The deadline for application is the end of the schedule adjustment period for the semester in which the student plans to graduate, or at the end of the first week of the second summer session for August degrees.

In all cases, graduation applications must be filed at the beginning of the student's final semester before receiving a degree. The graduation applications are available on the internet at www.testudo.umd.edu or at the Registrar's Office, 1st floor Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Building.

Latin Honors

Summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude are the highest Latin honors that the University bestows for sustained excellence in scholarship. They are awarded to the top 10% of all students graduating in each College or School.  Summa cum laude is awarded to students with a GPA equal to or greater than the highest two percent of GPAs from the specific College or School averaged over the previous academic year, magna cum laude to the next highest three percent, and cum laude to the following five percent. To be eligible for this recognition, at least 60 semester hours must be earned at the University or at a program in which credit earned is counted as University of Maryland, College Park, resident credit (contact the Office of the Registrar to determine program eligibility). No more than 6 credits taken pass/fail or satisfactory/fail grade modes shall count toward the 60-hour minimum. No student with a grade-point average of less than 3.3 will be considered for a Latin honor.  See the Office of the Registrar's website ( www.registrar.umd.edu ) for a list of minimum GPA cut-offs (for the current year) for each honor designation, published by College or School.

Election to Phi Beta Kappa

Organized in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most widely respected academic honorary society in the United States. Invitation to membership is based on outstanding scholastic achievement in studies of the liberal arts and sciences. Student members are chosen entirely on the basis of academic excellence; neither extracurricular leadership nor service to the community is considered. Election is held twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring semester.

The process for election to Phi Beta Kappa involves a review in November for those who graduated the previous August or those who will graduate in December, and a review in March for those graduating in May. For juniors the review occurs in March. The review is conducted by a select committee of faculty members representing the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The committee reviews transcripts of all students with qualifying grade point averages. Whether a student qualifies for membership in Phi Beta Kappa depends on the quality, depth, and breadth of the student's record in liberal courses. The final decision for election rests with the faculty committee and faculty Phi Beta Kappa members.

Attention Students who are under the General Education Program Requirements

Requirements for consideration of membership in Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Maryland, College Park campus chapter include:

1.  Grade Point Average: For seniors a grade point average of at least 3.75 overall as well as in all liberal arts and sciences courses taken. For juniors the minimum grade point average is at least 3.85.  National PBK rules, however, require that no more than 20 percent of the students elected in any one year can be juniors, so the actual minimum grade point average for junior admission may be higher than 3.85.     

2.  Residence: At least 60 credit hours must be taken at the University of Maryland, College Park.  

3.  Liberal Courses: For seniors, at least 90 credit hours in courses in the liberal arts and sciences (where "liberal" courses are to be distinguished from professional or technical courses), at least 45 of which must be taken at the University of Maryland, College Park. For juniors, at least 75 total credit hours must be completed, at least 60 of which are in courses in the liberal arts and sciences; of these, at least 45 must be taken at the University of Maryland, College Park. Students would ordinarily be majors in one of the programs in the liberal arts and sciences. However, students with the requisite number of liberal credit hours can be admitted if they have completed at least 5 courses (15 credit hours or more) for seniors and for juniors in a single liberal arts and sciences department/program at UMCP.     

4.  Required courses: One semester of mathematics, which must be fulfilled by college-level credit hours (including AP or IB credit, but not exemption by SAT), and two college semesters of the same foreign language at the elementary level, or at least one semester above that level. The language requirement may also be satisfied by completion of four years of the same language other than English at the high-school level or above, or the equivalent. Students with such a foreign language background who wish to be considered for admission to Phi Beta Kappa should notify the Phi Beta Kappa office (2110 Marie Mount Hall) in writing and provide the appropriate documentation (an official high school transcript) prior to the month of consideration. Juniors providing late documentation (after March 1) will be considered only as seniors.

5.  Distribution: The credit hours presented for Phi Beta Kappa must contain at least nine liberal arts credit hours in each of the three following areas: (a) arts and humanities, (b) behavioral and social sciences, (c) natural sciences and mathematics (including a laboratory science course). The laboratory science course cannot be fulfilled by AP or IB credit. All the courses in at least two of the three required areas must be completed at the University of Maryland, College Park, and in the remaining area no more than one AP or IB course can be used to fulfill the requirement. In general, Phi Beta Kappa will accept the CORE classification of courses. In satisfying the distribution requirement, however, a maximum of one course that satisfies multiple CORE categories, allotted to the category that helps the student the most, can be used. AP or IB History courses will be considered as satisfying only the arts and humanities requirement.

Students with more challenging courses and moderately high grade point averages are preferred by the committee to those with higher grade point averages but a narrow range of courses. Minimal qualifications in more than one area may preclude election to Phi Beta Kappa.

Recommended Criteria Include:

  • Regular grades (rather than pass/fail) in mathematics, foreign language courses, and distribution areas.
  • Some traditional social sciences and humanities courses that require written essays and papers. (Note that internships may be counted as professional courses and not as liberal courses).

Meeting the above requirements does not guarantee election to Phi Beta Kappa. The judgment of the resident faculty members of Phi Beta Kappa on the quality, depth, and breadth of the student's record is the deciding factor in every case. Any questions about criteria for election to Phi Beta Kappa (including equivalency examinations in foreign languages) should be directed to the Phi Beta Kappa Office, Dr. Denis Sullivan, and 301-405-8986.

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