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Policy Title: Honorary Doctoral Degrees

Boise State University Policy #4120
Effective Date: April, 1, 2002
Revised: August, 2004
June 2015
October 2016

To establish policies and procedures to award honorary doctoral degrees.

Applies to individuals of the University who select finalists for honorary doctoral degrees.

Responsible Party:
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, 426-1202

Tenure-Eligible Faculty – A faculty position assigned to an academic department or the university library wherein the incumbent holds academic rank and is eligible for tenure or is tenured.


  • I. Policy Statement
  • Boise State University awards honorary doctoral degrees to recognize individuals of outstanding accomplishment in scholarship, creativity, public service, education, or contributions to human welfare. The recipient of an honorary doctoral degree must exhibit a career of extraordinary and lasting distinction that serves as an inspiration to students and an indication of values that are esteemed by the university. An honorary doctoral degree is unrelated to the academic doctoral programs of the university and must therefore be distinguishable in title from all degrees earned in those programs.
  • II. Honorary Doctoral Degrees
    • A. Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.): contributions to the humanities or to human welfare.
    • B. Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.): contributions to literature or the creative or performing arts.
    • C. Doctor of Laws (LL.D.): contributions to government or public service.
    • D. Doctor of Science (Sc.D.): contributions to any field of science, social science, engineering, or technology.
  • III. Selection Guidelines
    • A. The candidate must not be a government official in a position to significantly influence the welfare of the university. However, a candidate who is retired from government service may receive consideration.
    • B. The candidate must not be a current student or current employee of the university.
    • C. An honorary doctoral degree is not given for monetary or material contributions to the university or for service to the university. However, a donor to the university is not precluded from consideration as long as his or her accomplishments and career fit the qualifications described in section I.
    • D. Special consideration may be given to candidates who are associated with Idaho or are graduates of Boise State University and/or with the State of Idaho.
  • IV. Selection Procedure
    • A.  Deadlines for the selection process will vary from year to year as determined by the Provost.
    • B. The Provost of the university shall solicit annually nominations in the fall from Boise State faculty and staff.
    • C.  Nominations will be reviewed by the Professional Standards Committee of the Faculty Senate.
    • D. All qualified nominations will be forwarded onto the President of the University for consideration.
    • E. All nominees or finalists who are not selected to receive an honorary degree during the current calendar year can be re-nominated for consideration in any future year.
    • F. The president will notify the Provost of his Honorary Doctorate section for inclusion in the appropriate commencement ceremony.
    • G. All aspects of the selection procedure are conducted with a level of confidentiality appropriate to personnel matters.
  • V. Guidelines for Nominations
  • It is not possible to strictly define content requirements for dossiers because the information available for finalists is highly variable. However, to the extent possible, each nomination should include the following two elements:
    • A. A resume summarizing the finalist’s education, career, honors, and awards, with the items in each major section listed in chronological order.
    • B. A brief discussion of the finalist’s accomplishments, the impact of those accomplishments, and their relationship to either or both the university and the State of Idaho.
  • VI. Invitation and Award of the Degree
  • Honorary doctoral degrees can only be awarded at a university commencement (May or December or both). Only the president of the university can extend an invitation to an individual to attend a commencement and receive an honorary doctoral degree but the president is not required to extend any invitations. If an invitation is extended by the president, it can only be extended to an approved finalist who is eligible to receive an honorary doctoral degree during the calendar year of the commencement. The president makes all necessary arrangements upon acceptance of the invitation including all matters associated with the award ceremony. Except in the case of serious illness, an honorary doctoral degree cannot be awarded in absentia. An honorary doctoral degree can be awarded posthumously but only in those cases where the honoree dies after accepting the president’s invitation.