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Honorary Degree / Honorary Doctorate

For every student, the graduation ceremony is one day on the academic calendar that he or she should look up to. After undergoing strict academic training at the university, the graduation ceremony provides a day for which each grandaunt can sit back and celebrate his or her achievement. For some universities, honorary degrees are presented to special individuals on this day. This means that each time there is a graduation ceremony, you are sure to find two groups of people; those that studied for their degrees and those who are receiving recognition for their achievements. It is important to note that aside the annual graduation ceremony, universities can organize special congregation in order to award an honorary degree to deserving individuals.

Across the world, several hundreds of universities have over the past years presented millions of honorary degrees to people from all walks of life. Honorary doctorate degrees have been presented to broadcasters, actors, musicians, sports personalities, service personnel and many others involved in diverse areas of human endeavor. These degrees are awarded on the basis of merit. The individual is expected to have excelled in his or her given field in order to attract the interest of the university.

Many critics of the honorary degree program have always stated that the award of these degrees to people who have had no academic training lessens the value placed on academic degrees. To these people, the honorary degree program is an affront to the years individuals spend in academic institutions pursuing degree programs. According to these people, by encouraging more institutions to award honorary degrees like the honorary doctorate, we are effectively telling the younger ones that it is perfectly alright to stay out of college. This will therefore deprive the job market of well trained human resource capital that is needed to push forward the pillar of development.

Just as there is a school of thought that believes that the honorary doctorate degree or other honor based degrees should not be encouraged, there is another school of thought that speaks in favor of the honorary degree. According to the proponent of the degree, claims that the honorary degree devalues the normal academic degree do not hold water. This is because; academic institutions do critical assessment of an individual’s achievements before deciding to award the person with an honorary doctorate degree. This point is highlighted by the fact that a great number of those who have received this form of recognition really deserved the award. Even in the small number of cases where the awards have been shrouded with controversy, the impact the individual have had on the society cannot be disputed.

The major point that has been advanced by those who support these awards is the fact that by conferring the highest academic recognition to those who have positively influenced their surroundings, we are encouraging the young ones to take up ventures that will bring a great deal of benefit to mankind. For this reason, the argument that honorary degrees would rather increase the dropout rate is heavily misplaced.

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