Academics
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Ashley Jiao / Staff Illustrator

Honors and awards are an important part of résumés and graduate school applications, showcasing the hard work you’ve put into your academic career. They are markers of your achievement, and some of these honor programs also develop skills that can be used for your internships and career. It’s important to be aware of the various awards that you are eligible for so that you can make the most out of your time at Columbia.

College (Latin) Honors

While your high school likely had similar honors, they hold a different weight in college. There are three categories to honor each class. For the Class of 2020 and beyond, this system has been changed to one based on your percentile rather than your cumulative GPA. The top 25 percent of each class will receive an honor of either summa cum laude (top 5 percent of the class), magna cum laude (from the top 5 percent to the top 15 percent), or cum laude (from the top 15 percent to the top 25 percent). These honors are visible on both the student’s transcript and diploma.

Dean’s List

The Dean’s List GPA cutoff for Barnard, Columbia College, and the School of General Studies is 3.6, while for the School of Engineering it is 3.5. This list varies from semester to semester, and students from General Studies need to have completed a minimum of three courses worth at least nine points to be eligible each semester. All other undergraduate schools must complete 12 points. Any student who has been found in violation of academic integrity is not eligible for the corresponding semester. Your GPA is calculated based on the A-F grading scale, and no P-graded points are included. For example, if you are in Barnard and are taking 12 credits but one of those classes is Pass/Fail, then you would not be eligible for the Dean’s List. Students with an “Incomplete” at the end of the semester are eligible to be on the Dean’s List if their grades have been converted to the standard A-F scale. In Columbia College and SEAS, you need to be approved in advance by the Committee on Academic Standing for your INC to be converted into a letter grade.

Departmental Honors

Departmental honors are awarded to students who meet the specific requirements for distinction for their respective majors. These distinctions are awarded to a maximum of 10 percent of the graduating class in large departments and one student in smaller departments. To be eligible, students need above a 3.6 major-specific GPA, as well as an honors thesis or its equivalent. Depending on your major, some departments (i.e. the philosophy department or the political science department) nominate students for an honors thesis, while other departments (i.e. the psychology department) have other requirements to fulfill a Departmental Honors. Students will need to inform their advisor and department head if they wish to be considered for a distinction during the first semester of their senior year. This honor is denoted on a student’s transcript.

Phi Beta Kappa

Undergraduates from all four colleges can be nominated by faculty to join the Columbia chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society based on your transcript and faculty recommendations. Up to ten percent of the graduating class is chosen each year, and the achievement is displayed on the student’s transcript. Barnard students are required to complete 86 points to be eligible for consideration as a junior and 102 as a senior. GS also has a separate award dedicated to an elected senior as a recognition of their impressive ability and work.

Honor Society of the School of General Studies

Students in the School of General Studies who have gained 30 completed Columbia points and a total of 60 completed points with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.8 are eligible to be inducted into the Honor Society of the School of General Studies. Students remain a part of the society after graduation, and all events are open to alumni and associates. The society is also open to those who are enrolled in dual-degree programs with other schools around the globe.

Barnard’s Barbara Silver Horowitz ’55 Scholars of Distinction

Barnard students are selected during their college admissions process based on an evaluation of both their creativity and their intellectual ability. They are required to take a 1-credit course and attend various supplementary events during their first four semesters. For their remaining time at Barnard they are expected to work toward a culminating project and to present their findings during their senior year. Students are required to maintain good academic standing and regularly meet with their mentors to remain in the program.

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program (CUSP)

The CUSP offers a wide range of internship and research opportunities for select students in Columbia College and SEAS. These students are chosen during the admissions process and are obligated to attend a minimum of four CUSP events to remain in good standing with the program. The program is supported by its four pillars: academic excellence, leadership, global awareness, and civil engagement. Once in good standing, students can apply for a summer enhancement fellowship, for which they are provided a grant to pursue undergraduate research or a creative project for their choice.

School-specific awards

Many honors and awards are common across all of the undergraduate schools, but Columbia College, SEAS, and GS each offer a unique set of awards to cater to their enrolled students. The full list of Columbia College and SEAS awards can be found at this link. The full list of the GS awards can be found under the “School Prizes” tab at this link.

Columbia has opportunities for you regardless of which school you belong to, and if you work hard, you’re certain to end up with honors and awards that illustrate your dedication. While many of these are pre-determined, it’s important to keep track of what honors you are eligible for so that you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

Staff Writer Swethaa Suresh can be contacted at swethaa.suresh@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

Honor programs Dean's List Scholar programs Scholars programs Scholars Latin honors Phi Beta Kappa Honor societies Awards Honors GPA
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