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How to List Academic Honors on Your Resume With Examples

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Graduating with honors is an impressive accomplishment, and it’s certainly one you should highlight on your resume as a recent graduate. However, many graduates are unsure if, when and how they should list Latin honors and other academic achievements on their resume. In this article, you’ll find resume tips and examples for graduates who have earned the distinction of cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude.

What are Latin honors?

 Here are the three levels of distinction for academic degrees used by high schools, colleges and universities:

  • Summa cum laude, meaning ‘with the highest distinction’
  • Magna cum laude, meaning ‘with great distinction’
  • Cum laude, meaning ‘with distinction’

If you graduated with honors, your resume should highlight this academic achievement. These details won’t take up much space, and they will help demonstrate your commitment to excellence.

When to include Latin honors on your resume

The fact that you graduated with honors matters more when you are first entering the job market as a student or recent graduate. At this stage, you may not have much professional experience to list on your resume, so mentioning that you graduated with honors will help show employers that you are highly motivated, intelligent and hardworking. Once you have gained more experience, your academic performance becomes less important. Some employers will care about your GPA and honors, while others will not. Either way, it’s a good idea to include them on your resume. At best, they will weigh in your favor, and at worst, they’ll simply be ignored. 

How to include Latin honors on your resume

Follow these steps when listing Latin honors on your resume:

1. Firstly, place them in the education section

If you graduated with honors, you should include that detail in the education section of your resume. Do this even if your resume has a section for honors and awards. Your Latin honors should be listed under the relevant degree so that it is obvious when and where you earned them. This is especially important if you have multiple degrees listed in your education section. You don’t want to mislead employers in any way. For instance, if you have completed both an undergraduate and graduate degree, it should be clear which degree the Latin honors are associated with.

2. Secondly, decide how to format your education section

One formatting style would be to keep the section simple by listing each institution and the dates you attended, followed by basic information about your degree. This should include the type of degree you earned, your major, your GPA and your honors. In this format, your honors should be listed directly after your major, separated by a comma. You can include your GPA in parentheses after the Latin honors.

Another formatting style is to expand your education section by listing your academic activities and honors after each degree. You may prefer this format if you participated in several extracurricular activities and received multiple honors. In this format, under each institution you attended, you should list your degree, honors, major and graduation date. Below that information, you should include two subsections—one for activities and one for honors. Your Latin honors should be included in the honors section.

3. Lastly, italicize the names of Latin honors

Since cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude are Latin phrases, you should use italics when listing these honors. These phrases should also be lowercase. You may find some examples and style guides that do not require you to italicize Latin honors, but using italics is the safer option. Plus, italics will help these words stand out.

If your school uses English instead of Latin phrases, the rules are different. English honors should not be italicized, and they should be capitalized. English honors are typically listed as with Honors, with High Honors or with Highest Honors. The word ‘Distinction’ may be used instead of ‘Honors.’ Always use the exact wording adopted by your university.

Examples of how to list academic honors on a resume

Here are a few examples of how to list academic honors on a resume:

Examples with an expanded education section

The format of these two examples allows you to list your academic activities and honors beneath your degree. The UNC example includes the student’s honors directly before the major and uses the school’s English phrases. The WVU example lists the student’s Latin honors and GPA in the honors subsection.

The University of North Carolina | Chapel Hill, NC

B.S. with Highest Distinction in Accounting, May 2015

Honors:

  • Minor in business administration
  • Phi Beta Kappa

Activities:

  • Policy Debate Team
  • University Democrats

West Virginia University | Morgantown, WV

Bachelor of Arts in English, August 2016

Honors:

  • Magna cum laude (3.7 GPA)
  • Professional writing and editing concentration
  • Sigma Tau Delta

Activities:

  • The Daily Athenaeum, editor
  • Eberly Writing Studio, tutor

Examples with a simplified education section

If you would rather include honors and activities in a separate section, you can trim down your education section. 

  • The University of Texas at Austin | May 2013

B.S. in Public Policy, graduated with High Honors (3.8 GPA)

  • West Virginia University | December 2016

B.S. in Animal and Nutritional Science, summa cum laude

  • The University of North Carolina | August 2015

B.A. with Distinction in Anthropology

Tips for including academic honors on a resume

Here are a few more tips for people who graduated with honors:

Including your GPA is not necessary, but it can be helpful

Graduating with honors implies a high GPA. However, not all schools use the same standards. Some employers prefer to see your exact GPA. Including your GPA can be especially helpful if you achieved a 4.0 or if your GPA was higher than the minimum to graduate with honors.

You do not need to mention Dean’s List

Making the Dean’s List is a vaguer achievement than graduating with honors. If your resume already says that you graduated magna cum laude, listing the Dean’s List as an honor could be redundant. Use that space to include something that adds more value to your resume.

Be consistent in your formatting

Whatever format you decide to use, make sure each entry follows the same template. A break in formatting will be distracting and make your resume look less professional. Along the same lines, choose a format that will fit well with the rest of your resume. The formatting of each section will not be identical, but it should be similar.

Give your resume an extra proofread

Once you mention that you graduated with honors, an employer’s expectations will rise. Everyone should proofread their resume, but those who graduated with honors should be extra careful. Careless mistakes in grammar, spelling and formatting can undercut your academic achievements.