Honorary Doctorate: All You Need To Know

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honorary doctorate

Do you know Shahrukh Khan has a “Doctor” in his name? When his only educational qualification is an undergraduate degree from Delhi University. Even Michelle Obama, the former first lady of America has received 3 doctorate degrees to her name. There are various famous figures who have a “Doctor” associated with their name without even pursuing a PhD. Are you wondering how is this even possible? Well, there are so many international artists and figures who have contributed immensely to their field and community. An honorary doctorate is a doctoral degree often awarded in recognition of one’s life experiences. There are various universities and institutions which recognize individuals who make a notable contribution to society by awarding them with this degree. Various Philanthropists, Artists, Musicians, Authors, Politicians, and Scientists often receive an acknowledgement for their extraordinary accomplishments that serve a greater good. In this blog, we will discuss the major aspects related to this degree, its types and value in society.

Understanding Honorary Doctorate

For over a great period of time, International colleges and universities have awarded honorary doctorate degrees to various incredible people for their lasting impact on society. A number of politicians, authors, musicians, writers, actors, corporate, sportsperson, and individuals from other fields have also received this degree for their excellence. Renowned personalities like author Elie Weisel, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, and comedian Bill Cosby have also been bestowed with an honorary degree. 

How Did it Start?

It all began at Harvard University in 1962 when the IVY league school gave the first honorary doctorate degree in the United States. Started mainly to recognize scholars and researchers, it is now bestowed upon other artists and professionals. While it adds value to the associated name but these recognitions are not the same as earning a real PhD degree. Thus, these degrees are not qualified as educational qualifications and are a way of recognizing outstanding contributions in one or more of the university’s areas of academic activity. The board of academic area appoints honorary doctorate degree after proposals from and discussions within the faculties. 

Types of Honorary Doctorate Degree

Colleges and universities award honorary degrees to various distinguished personalities from society. These personalities fall under specific categories. Below mentioned are the types of degrees that are awarded an honorary doctorate: 

Doctor of Humane Letters 

A Doctor of Humane Letters is a type of honorary doctorate that is awarded to those who have distinguished themselves in the field of Science, Literature, Government or other equivalent fields. 

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Doctor of Laws

Various universities including Harvard and Oxford award distinguished personalities for their excellence in the field of law with this honorary doctorate degree of law.

Doctor of Science

Doctor of Science is an honorary doctorate degree which recognizes the revolutionary or exceptional research and discoveries made by individuals in the field of Science. 

Doctor of Divinity

This is a special kind of honorary doctorate degree which is designed and awarded by a few prestigious universities and educational institutions to recognize and honour exceptional religious figures.

Doctor of Fine Arts

This doctorate degree is designed for those who have contributed exceptionally to the community of music, art, architecture, etc. 

Honorary Doctorate Degree Criteria

Even though many colleges and universities have their own set standards for granting honorary degrees but generally, it is awarded to an individual with a sustained lifetime achievement, rather than targeting a group or a single contribution in society. With a few exceptions, there are some universities that place restrictions on nominating institution’s faculty members, employees, and alumni. Listed below are the names of some famous personalities who have been bestowed with honorary degrees by different universities. 

  • JK Rowling 
  • Meryl Streep
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Shahrukh Khan
  • Robert De Niro
  • John Legend
  • Canon O’ Brien
  • Muhammed Ali
  • Michelle Obama
  • James Watson
  • Arnold J. Toynbee

Hopefully, this blog has provided you with all the requisite information related to an honorary doctorate and its value. If you looking to pursue PhD courses abroad but are not sure about which specialization course to study then the experts at Leverage Edu will help you choose a suitable course using our AI-enabled tool and help you kick-start a career in the right direction. 

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2 comments
  1. Hello.
    Myself is Saahil Govind Naayak. Selected as Center Director to Govt. of India approved organization “Bharatiya sangeet Prasarak Mandal”, India. I am working as a Vocal Music Trainer and Researcher since year 2000. I would like to request for Honorary Doctorate in the field of Music. I humbly request you to provide me the information, fees and process to apply for the Honorary Doctor in Music.
    Thanking You,
    Saahil G. Naayak

    1. Hello Sahil,
      Thanks for reading our blog! We heard your query about pursuing an Honorary degree in Music. We would suggest you get in touch with our experts at Leverage Edu by calling 1800572000. They will surely assist you to get all your questions answered by their expert guidance and mentorship! You can even check out our blog on Explore the Best Music Courses Globally: https://leverageedu.com/blog/explore-the-best-music-courses-globally/ for extra information!

      Thank You!

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