Honorary Degree

History and Purpose

In 1944, WMU President, Paul V. Sangren awarded the first honorary degree. Since then, it has become a tradition that we recognize persons of exceptional scholarly, artistic, professional or humanitarian achievement who exemplify the mission of Western Michigan University and whose career or lifetime accomplishments serve as models of University ideals and aspirations for its students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Honorary degrees conferred

  • Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa (L.H.D.), given to persons with outstanding achievement in the humanities.
  • Doctor of Science, honoris causa (Sc.D.), given to persons with outstanding contributions to and service in the sciences.
  • Doctor of Letters, honoris causa (Litt.D.), given to outstanding scholars in specific disciplines, exclusive of the sciences and humanities.
  • Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (L.L.D.), given to persons with outstanding service to humankind at large, to learning, and/or institutions benefiting the public. 

Read about previous honorees 2019 Honoree

Nominations for candidacy

The University requires nominees for receiving honorary degrees to meet specific qualifications and their candidacy will be vetted by the honorary degree committee.

The policy, which is under the responsibility of the Provost and Academic Affairs office, pertains to the qualifications one must meet to be selected as a nominee for receiving an honorary degree, per the discretion of the honorary degree committee.

To read the Statement of Policy, as well as the Guidelines and Procedures for the Honorary Degree Committee, you may visit Western Michigan University policies website.