Honors and Awards

Whitman College gives several awards to recognize academic honor and achievements:

Recognition of Academic Distinction

Recognition of academic distinction is awarded after the completion of each semester. This recognition is given to all regular students who have completed a minimum of 12 credits, passed all credits attempted, and have earned a grade-point average of 3.500 or higher on no fewer than nine graded credits during the semester.

Undergraduate Honors

Undergraduate Honors are awarded to first-year students, sophomores, and juniors who attain during any one academic year a GPA of at least 3.650 in not fewer than 30 credits of which 24 must be graded on a regular basis (A, B, C, D, F).

Honors in Course

Honors in Course are awarded to graduating seniors as follows: summa cum laude to students who have achieved a GPA of 3.900 with no course grades of failure; magna cum laude to students who have achieved a GPA of at least 3.800 and no course grades of failure; cum laude to students who have achieved a GPA of at least 3.650. To be eligible to receive Honors in Course a student shall have been in residence at Whitman College his or her last four semesters or a total of six semesters. The degree candidate shall have earned a total of not fewer than 60 credits at Whitman.

Honors in Major Study

Honors in Major Study are awarded to graduating seniors who show unusual ability in their major fields. To be eligible for candidacy a student must have accumulated at least 87 credits, and have completed two semesters of residence at Whitman College. Admission to candidacy begins with the student’s submitting a proposal describing their thesis or project to the appropriate academic department. Once the department (or departments, for combined majors, or major committee for individually planned majors) approves the proposal admitting the student to candidacy for Honors, the department must file an official notification with the Registrar. The application must be submitted to the major department (or departments for combined majors, or major committee for individually planned majors) within the first six weeks of the two-semester period in which the student is eligible. The student has the privilege of doing preliminary planning on the project or thesis during their third year.

A candidate must attain a GPA of at least 3.500 in the major, complete a written thesis or research project prepared exclusively for the satisfaction of this program, and meet the requirements set forth for filing copies of this thesis or report in the college library not later than Reading Day preceding the beginning of the final examination period in the semester in which the student is registered for the honors thesis course, earn a grade of at least A- on the honors thesis or project and the honors thesis course, and Pass with Distinction on the senior assessment in their major study.

See individual departmental requirements for variations to the standard Honors requirements and deadlines.

National Honor Societies

The following national honor societies have established chapters at Whitman College:

The national German honor society, Delta Phi Alpha, seeks to foster and recognize excellence in the field and to provide an incentive for higher scholarship. Whitman College's chapter, Sigma Alpha, was founded in November 2006. The Society aims to promote the study of the German language, literature, and civilization and endeavors to emphasize those aspects of German life and culture which are of universal value and which contribute to man's eternal search for peace and truth. Membership is by invitation. Eligibility is determined by cumulative GPA and GPA in German courses.

Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national honorary fraternity, established a chapter at Whitman College in 1919. Election is based on evidence of broad cultural interests and scholarly achievement in the liberal arts. Criteria include Whitman grade-point average and the breadth of the program outside the major. Approximately 10 percent of the senior class and one percent of the junior class are elected to membership annually.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, established a chapter at Whitman College in 1962. Sigma Xi is an international, multidisciplinary research society whose programs and activities promote the health of the scientific enterprise and honor scientific achievement. Membership is by invitation and is awarded based on demonstrated potential for research.