Policy on the Selection of Honorary Degree Candidates

  1. To be nominated for an Honorary Degree the candidate should have made an outstanding contribution on a national or international scale. The contribution may be to the advancement of the candidate’s discipline or field of work, or it may be to the community, to society, or to the University.

  2. Active members of faculty and staff at Queen's are not eligible for honorary degrees, as outstanding contributions to Queen's by these individuals may be recognized in other ways. Retired members may, however, be nominated at least three years after retirement.

  3. By tradition, new principals and chancellors may name the honorary degree recipients for their installation, subject to the approval of Senate. They should be made aware of the Policy as soon as planning for an installation begins.

  4. Normally, an active politician should not be nominated for an honorary degree. An exception may be made in the case of a person who has been a politician for a considerable length of time and has made a particularly outstanding contribution.

  5. Honorary degrees may be awarded to a group or entity that is not a natural or legal person, provided that the group or entity fulfils the requirements for an honorary degree recipient as set out in this Policy. In such cases, the degree is awarded to the group or entity as a whole and not to the individual members of it.

  6. Posthumous honorary degrees will not be awarded. In awarding an Honorary Degree, the University is honouring a recipient and not his or her memory. If, however, a candidate dies after accepting the Senate invitation to receive the degree, but before the convocation at which the degree is to be conferred, the Honorary Degree will be awarded.

  7. Only in exceptional circumstances will a degree be awarded in absentia. The Principal shall determine when this would be appropriate.

  8. As recommended in the review of Convocation (2016/17), 10 or fewer honorary degrees shall be awarded in each calendar year. At spring Convocation ceremonies, honorary degrees shall be distributed among Faculties and Schools as follows: Arts and Science (2), Business (1), Education (1), Engineering and Applied Science (1), Graduate Studies (1), Health Sciences (1), and Law (1). There shall be two honorary degrees awarded at one the fall Convocation ceremony. In exceptional circumstances, the Committee may choose to vary the number of honorary degrees conferred each year by one to two degrees in the case of either an exceptionally strong group of candidates or a group of candidates with insufficient qualifications.

  9. If a nominee declines the university’s invitation to receive an honorary degree, the Principal shall have the ability to select a replacement from a list of alternates already approved by the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee. The Principal shall also have the ability to extend an invitation to the nominee for the subsequent year.

  10. In selecting the candidates for the award of an honorary degree, the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee should endeavor to strike a balance between outstanding Canadians and international nominees, and between nominees who have not received honorary degrees from other institutions and those who have already received similar recognition.

  11. The committee should ensure that such groups as women, Aboriginal persons, racialized group members/visible minorities, persons with disabilities, persons identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ), and others who reflect the diversity of Canadian society are regularly included in the recommendations.

  12. The following degrees may be awarded:
  1. Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)
  2. Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
  3. Doctor of Science (D.Sc.)

In awards to scientists and engineers, the D.Sc. degree should be awarded if the major contribution of the candidate is to pure or applied science. If the major contribution is to public service, the community etc., the LL.D. degree should be awarded. The D.D. degree is awarded on the recommendation of the School of Religion.

Related Policies and Procedures:

Policy on the Revocation of or Issuance of a Special Statement on Honorary Degrees

Procedures on the Revocation of or Issuance of a Special Statement on Honorary Degrees

Revised by Senate, April 2017