The approved plan for granting academic honors is as follows:
Latin Honors will be awarded on the basis of the following grade point averages:
- Cum Laude: 3.600-3.799
- Magna Cum Laude: 3.800-3.899
- Summa Cum Laude: 3.900-4.000 plus successful completion of the Summa Oral Exam (see criteria below)
- Departments should, in the context of this change, examine their grade distributions and discuss the fit between their grading practices and the standards of the University; such considerations should be part of the annual department assessment.
- Transfer students who qualify for Latin Honors must have 56 traditionally graded credits at Augsburg.
Guidelines for the Summa Oral Examination
Students who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.900 or higher are eligible to take an oral examination in order to graduate Summa Cum Laude (With Highest Honors). Students must have completed 56 traditionally graded credits at Augsburg. Upon successful completion of the oral examination, the student will earn the designation Summa Cum Laude. Students who choose not to take the examination, or who do not pass the examination, will be granted the designation Magna Cum Laude.
Please note that these guidelines allow for a re-examination should the first examination not be judged “approved” by a majority vote of the committee.
The purpose of this experience is to provide the graduating student with the opportunity, both orally and in writing, to demonstrate his or her ability to think in a sophisticated way about a question that should reflect his or her education both in the major and in general education. This signature aspect of the Summa distinction is consistent with our mission and Vision 2004 and should build upon the reflection and work completed in the keystone course. We see this process as one that helps ensure that our Summa graduates represent our academically strongest students across all programs.
Before the Oral Examination
Every student eligible for Summa Cum Laude honors who has filled out an application for graduation will be informed by the Office of the Academic Affairs, near the beginning of the student’s final term, that he or she is a possible candidate for graduation as Summa Cum Laude.
The student has the responsibility to arrange a Summa examination in consultation with their faculty advisor, and to notify the Academic Affairs Office of their decision to proceed with the examination, no later than one week following the email notification of summa eligibility. The deadline for completing the examination will be provided in a letter to eligible students, accompanied by the guidelines.
The candidate will work with their faculty advisor to identify two additional faculty members who know the student’s work, and who can serve as faculty members of the Summa Confirmation Panel. At least one of these faculty members should be selected from outside the student’s major. The candidate or their advisor will invite faculty members and confirm their participation.
The student candidate completes the written preparation with guidance from their faculty advisor. The written preparation is due one week prior to the oral session and is sent by the student to all Summa Committee members. Students must receive final approval from their faculty advisors before distributing the final draft of their materials.
Preparing for the Oral Examination
Students are encouraged to prepare materials that best illustrate how their academic experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, have contributed to their development during their time at Augsburg. Depending on the student’s major, the content of the materials might differ, but all students are required to submit a short essay to the faculty panelists in advance of the meeting, as well as any other supporting materials (e.g., portfolios, writing samples, conference posters, recordings).
The formal five-page essay should address an issue or problem the candidate considers central to their major field of study. The essay should describe the ways in which the candidate’s understanding of this issue or problem has developed during the time at Augsburg and should include an explanation of how academic experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, have contributed to the candidate’s current understanding of the issue or problem. The candidate should take a stance relative to the issue or problem at hand. This position should be clearly articulated in the thesis statement and supported by appropriate evidence. The explanation of this issue should include considerations of its contemporary context: its importance to the field of study and its relevance to a community (social, scientific, cultural, professional, etc.). The essay should be written in a manner that showcases one’s best academic writing and critical thinking skills.
During the Oral Examination
The Summa Oral Examination typically lasts for one hour.
The written essay provides the basis for the conversation with the summa committee. The student should bear in mind that the committee may ask why the chosen issue is of interest, how the conclusion was reached, how the candidate’s views reflect his or her education at Augsburg, and how dialogue with instructors, peers, and readings has influenced the candidate’s thinking. To the extent that it is possible, the candidate should anticipate such questions within the essay.
The Faculty Advisor will inform the student of the outcome within 24 hours of the panel.
Criteria for Judging the Student’s Performance in the Oral Examination
- The student expresses thoughts clearly.
- The student demonstrates facility with abstract ideas.
- The student is able to follow the course of an argument intelligently and to develop a position plausibly and coherently.
- The student is able to defend a point of view under questioning; the student is also sufficiently flexible to accommodate valid points made by others.
- The student is able to utilize some of the principal concepts or theories of his or her major discipline in responding to questions.
- The student extemporaneously brings to bear ideas or themes from the liberal arts to the questions posed in the examination.
- The student is able to engage in an exchange of ideas with members of the committee rather than simply responding to questions.
- The student is reflective and thoughtful in responding to questions.
- The student uses acceptable grammar and syntax both orally and in writing.