Question: My friend just graduated "with highest
distinction," while another friend graduated from another University as "summa
cum laude." Which is higher, Magna, Summa, or "with highest distinction?"
Answer: In Latin, "cum laude" means "with
distinction," and different colleges use different standards:
- "with distinction" (cum laude, literally "with honor")
is often the top 5% of GPA within the graduating class.
- "with high distinction" (magna cum laude, literally "with high honor"),
is reserved for students with a GPA between the top 5% and 3%.
- "with highest distinction" (summa cum laude, literally "with highest
honor") is often the top 3% of the graduating class, usually
a GPA above 3.9, depending on the grade inflation at the school.
Universities may call it different names, but the three steps
of "cum laude" remain a universal standard for achievement in colleges and
universities across the globe.