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Hons Degree Facts: Its Value and Levels in UK and US

facts on hons degree

Undergraduate level studies can be confused with the vast amount of available courses to study. However, things may get a little different if you want to graduate with honors.

Honors degrees have varying meanings in different countries but what is common all over is that graduating with honors shows a high level of academic achievement.

Also, honors degrees require students to do a lot of work and have a high level of commitment. 

In the United States, there is no such thing as an honors degree. Students only graduate with a regular Bachelor’s degree. In the UK graduating with honors is popular. Most Bachelor’s programs that are offered by universities in the UK are honors degrees.

However, there are honorific terms such as, “with praise,” “with higher praise,” and “with the greatest praise” used to show how exemplary students’ performances were.

They include projects, research, and thesis before completion mostly done in the advanced years. Most of these courses take 3 or 4 years to complete.

The type of honor degree that undergraduates receive depends on their overall grades. One can graduate with:

1. First-Class Honors

Hons Degree Facts

Here undergraduates have completed studies with an overall mark of 70% and above.

It’s the highest academic achievement and presents an advantage when applying for Master’s degrees and jobs.

2. Upper Second-Class Honors

Here students have an overall grade of 60%-69%. It is the common admission requirement for students who want to apply for Master’s programs

3. Lower Second-Class Honors

Here students have an overall grade of 50%-59%.

This level is not as prestigious as the first-class, or upper second-class but it is still accepted in various Master’s programs

4. Third-Class Honors

Here students have an overall grade of 40%-49%.

Though it is still a pass, students under this rank find it hard to compete with students of the other top classes in the job market.

Also, it is almost impossible for one to apply for Master’s programs under this class.

5. Ordinary Bachelor’s degree

This is awarded if you miss the 40% marks margin closely. It is hard to get opportunities for further studies or top jobs if you graduate with an ordinary Bachelor’s degree

What does Hons mean?

Hons is a term used by various universities to refer to a specific Bachelor’s program as an honors degree. For example, (Hons) Chemistry, Business Marketing (Hons), BA (Hons) in Creative Writing.

How to get an Honorary Degree?

Hons Degree Facts

To get an honorary degree you must have made enduring and profound contributions to improve the quality of life, culture, scholarships, and the society inclusively.

These are achievements of national or international significance and they require recognition.

Honorary degrees are awarded by universities or any degree offering institution.

Therefore, those selected to receive the degrees must be persons of great integrity. This plays a role in reflecting the values of the awarding institutions.

To get an honorary degree, you should not pay any amount of money, give any kind of property, or be running for public office.

Institutions nominate candidates illegible for honorary degree awards. A special committee then screens the nominations and recommends the finalists for the honorary degrees.

Differences between Honors and Honorary Degree

There are several differences between honorary and honors degrees. These include:

  • Honors degrees require students to study and pass examinations while honorary degrees do not involve any exams but instead contributions individuals have made to society at large.
  • Honors degrees are awarded to people who have a connection to the university as students while honorary degrees can be awarded to people who have no connection to the university.
  • There are specific years of study that one has to accomplish to get an honors degree but there is no specified time required to award honorary degrees.
  • There are different categories of honors degrees depending on how students performed in the university exams which honorary degrees do not have
  • Honors degrees always show academic credibility while honorary degrees show professional credibility
  • In honor degrees, students have to apply to get a chance to study at the university while honorary degree awardees are nominated by the university and approved by a special committee
  • Honors degrees are undergraduate studies while honorary degrees are considered for postgraduates because they are typically doctorate degrees or less common Masters degrees. 

Can an Honorary Degree be used for a Job Application?

One can indicate that they have an honorary degree when applying for a job but that does not play a role as a distinguishing requirement for the job.

Hons Degree Facts

It is quite obvious that most people who are awarded honorary degrees are already well-established people and should not be experiencing any problems looking for employment.

However, it is important to note that honorary degrees are just awards and not academic achievements.

They are not among the academic qualifications that one is required to attain to prove that they meet the standards required for employment.

There are no academic privileges associated with honorary degrees.

Also, employees do not recognize them as having the same stature compared to honor degrees and should never be presented as such.

Even when listing them on the CV they should not be listed on the education part. Instead, they should be listed as an award. 

Additional Information about Honorary Degrees

Honorary degrees are usually awarded at graduation ceremonies. The recipients are always invited to make an acceptance speech before the congregants of the graduation ceremony and then the award is issued.

Nominees for honorary degrees are not informed until their nominations are approved and then invited. Recipients wear the same academic regalia as the recipients of honors degrees. 


For more than 500 years, universities have been awarding honorary degrees. It was first a form of mutual patronage that offered a privilege to those who return the favor to institutions through funding and political support.

Historians and philosophers have maintained that over the years, universities have done whatever they have had to do to hide their tendency of making subjective judgments in support of their vested interests.

However, universities have given a justification for honorary degrees by arguing that the degrees acknowledge the good of the public that the university embodies. Recipients of honorary degrees also support this claim.