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Do accredited universities give honorary degrees?

Yes, many accredited universities chose to award honorary degrees, honorary doctorates in particular. It is important to remember however, that the award is, as the name implies, an honorary one. The recipient did not qualify for the award by passing any prescribed examinations and in fact might not have even attended that particular university.

Traditionally, universities have used the award to honour outstanding members of the community who have made significant contributions to society in their particular field of endeavor. Awards are also given to persons whose lifetime achievements have impacted the lives of many individuals. It is awarded as a mark of esteem – for the cause of honour or honoris causa (Latin).

Persons are often confused when addressing someone with an honorary doctorate. Universities establish their own criteria for the award of honorary doctorates and have their own specific guidelines concerning the use of the title ‘Dr’. Some allow the recipient to use the title generally, while others specify that it be used only within the circles of that particular educational community. Others may require that whenever the title ‘Dr’ is written in reference to a recipient of an honorary doctorate the abbreviation for honoris causa (h.c.) be written next to it.

An honorary doctorate awarded by an accredited university, while obviously not having the same standing as an earned degree, can be regarded as a prestigious award. Regrettably, many “Diploma Mills” also offer honorary doctorates and therefore create skepticism about the value of such awards.