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American University | Board Policies


  The university may confer honorary degrees upon individuals who have made meritorious contributions to society or to American University in fields related to the university’s mission. The power to confer honorary degrees rests with the trustees and may be exercised at their initiative or at the initiative of the president, subject to the Board’s approval.

  1. Honorary degrees will be conferred in the following areas of achievement: distinguished creative or scholarly work; outstanding leadership or service in education, church, government, politics, international affairs, civic and community affairs, industry, commerce, labor, the arts, and philanthropy; and contributions to humanitarian causes or to American University.
  2. Honorary degrees that may be conferred include the following:  

Doctor of Fine Arts
Doctor of Letters
  Doctor of Humanities
Doctor of Music
  Doctor of International Affairs
Doctor of Public Service
  Doctor of Laws
Doctor of Science

  1. The achievements of the recipient must have a clear relation to the mission of the university and the principles for which it stands. In keeping with the university’s heritage and its relationship to The United Methodist Church, the ethical dimensions of the achievements of the nominee will be considered in the decision to confer the degree.
  2. Because the university intends not only to recognize but also to discover meritorious achievement, the conferral of honorary degrees will not be restricted to persons already prominent and well recognized.
  3. Because of their importance, honorary degrees will be conferred only at university-wide convocations or ceremonies. They will not ordinarily be awarded in absentia, except in extraordinary circumstances—the principal exception being those conferred posthumously.


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