The highest recognition that Michigan State University can give to the world’s distinguished scholars and citizens is the award of an honorary degree. Since 1885, deserving individuals have received honorary degrees during MSU’s commencement ceremonies, sharing in the celebration of outstanding lifetime accomplishments with MSU students.
Who can be nominated
The Faculty Committee on Honorary Degrees is in the continuing process of developing a list of outstanding nominees to receive honorary degrees. The award of an honorary degree is a chance to bring attention to deserving individuals.
Nominees should meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Distinguished graduate of MSU (any field)
- Distinguished scientist, humanist, scholar of the arts, or distinguished member of one of the professions (law, medicine, etc.)
- Distinguished person in public life or business
- It has been the practice not to nominate members of our own faculty
- Self-nominations are not accepted
- Nominees do not need to have a connection with MSU, but should exemplify the values inherent in MSU's mission and values
Invitations to nominees are issued only by the president of Michigan State University. In addition, the president retains the option of designating speakers for the commencement ceremonies to receive honorary degrees.
Who can submit a nomination
Nominations may be submitted by an individual faculty member (active or retired), a group of individuals with at least one MSU faculty member, or an academic unit. Suggestions from outside the University must be coordinated through a college dean's office, and the dean will determine if a nomination is appropriate. Please visit the college website listing to contact the appropriate office.
All completed nomination packets must be approved by a dean before submission to the Honorary Degree Committee.
Nomination packets are accepted throughout the year. The committee typically meets near the beginning of fall and spring semesters to review nominations and make recommendations to the President's office.
Information should be as complete as possible so that the committee will be able to arrive at a decision based on the material submitted. Each nomination must include the following documentation, assembled in this order:
- Honorary Degree Nomination Form (PDF). Note: The form requires a dean’s signature
- Nomination Statement (two-three pages) explaining why the nominee should be considered for an honorary degree from MSU
- Supporting Letters (at least two) from qualified recommenders who are familiar with the professional accomplishments and achievements of the nominee. Must be SIGNED
- Resume or Vita
- Other supporting materials as deemed necessary by the nominator
- Incomplete nominations cannot be reviewed by the committee
- Care should be taken so that candidates are not aware of their nomination
Completed packets can be submitted electronically via a PDF file to firstname.lastname@example.org or in hard copy form to the Faculty Committee on Honorary Degrees, c/o the Office of Research and Innovation, 249 Administration Building, 426 Auditorium Rd., East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
Please call (517) 432-4499 with any questions.
Past honorary degrees awarded
Information for Honorary Degree Holders: How to Refer to Your Honorary Degree