Honorary Degrees

female graduate receiving sash from another official on stage, standing near president eisgruber delivering a speech

The Trustee Committee on Honorary Degrees makes recommendations to the Princeton University Board of Trustees for candidates to be awarded honorary degrees  at Commencement.

The Committee on Honorary Degrees consists of trustee members and members of the Committee on Governance of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), deliberating as a single committee. The Committee makes recommendations to the full Board of Trustees who must approve the candidates.

The Board of Trustees has granted as honorary degrees the: Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Fine Arts, Doctor of Humane Letters, Doctor of Humanities, Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Letters, Doctor of Literature, Doctor of Music, and Doctor of Science.

Per tradition, the identities of honorary degree recipients are not revealed until the day of Commencement.

Honorary Degree Criteria

Honorary degree candidates should exemplify the highest ideals of the university.

In its deliberations, the Committee on Honorary Degrees has found it useful to refer to criteria that, while they are neither decisive in the selection process nor absolute prerequisites, provide useful guidelines and points of comparison among the many suggestions the Committee reviews each year. The criteria are as follows:

  • Genuine achievement and distinction in an activity consonant with the mission of the University: the advancement of learning in the arts, sciences, and technology and for the public welfare; distinguished contribution in elective, appointive, or career service notable for demonstrated qualities of intellect as well as of character; i.e., contribution to the life of the mind, interpreted broadly.
  • Adequate reason for recognition by Princeton University of such achievement and distinction: an association of the individual with the University, or a recognizable relationship of his or her achievement to the mission of the University.
  • Particular meaning to the individual being recognized.
  • Achievement and distinction that have not been similarly recognized by a number of other institutions.
  • Appropriateness of recognition at a ceremony attended by undergraduate and advanced degree candidates reflecting a diversity of interests and concerns.

Accomplishments such as the following will be regarded as not in themselves sufficient reason for consideration: holding public office, acts of philanthropy, receiving popular acclaim, service to the University or to another educational institution.

In those cases where academic and scholarly achievement are determining factors in a nomination, the Committee will consult with the faculty and other members of the University community having relevant expertise about the appropriateness of granting the honorary degree.

It is university policy not to award honorary degrees to current Princeton faculty, staff, students or trustees. Emeritus faculty are eligible to receive honorary degrees through a special nomination process by the Academic Planning Group.

The university does not award degrees posthumously or in absentia. Recipients must be able to accept their degrees in person at Commencement.

Submitting Nominations

The committee invites members of the university community to submit nominations. Before submitting a nomination, please review the list of past honorary degree recipients.

Nominations for Commencement 2023 must be submitted by Friday, November 5, 2021.

Honorary Degree Nomination Form

Please direct any inquiries regarding honorary degrees to:

Committee on Honorary Degrees
Office of the Vice President and Secretary
One Nassau Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544

Email: HD@princeton.edu