Graduation and Honors

The degree of bachelor of arts is awarded to undergraduates who have completed the A.B. program of study, including departmental major. The degree of bachelor of science in engineering is awarded to students who have completed the requirements of the B.S.E. program of study, including departmental major.


Honors are awarded at graduation by the departments of majors. Departments determine honors on the basis of the grades received by the student in departmental studies (including junior independent work, the senior thesis, and, for students in the A.B. program, the senior departmental examination). Each department chooses the weight to be assigned to the various components in the honors calculation. The degree may be awarded with honors, high honors, or highest honors.

Phi Beta Kappa

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, founded in 1776 and the oldest of all national honorary scholastic societies, has a chapter at Princeton. Election to this chapter is based on scholastic standing and is open to candidates for the A.B. and B.S.E. degrees in their senior year. The chapter generally includes in its membership the highest-ranking tenth of each graduating class. A small group is elected in the fall of the senior year based on their academic record in the first three years; a larger group is elected at the end of senior year and is inducted at a ceremony on Class Day.

Sigma Xi

The Society of Sigma Xi was founded in 1866 to encourage scientific research. The society has a chapter at Princeton, to which members and associate members are elected annually. Election to associate membership is based on promise of marked achievement in scientific research, as judged not on the basis of classroom work but by actual research attempted. Each year a number of seniors meet this requirement in their thesis work. Election to full membership is based on positive accomplishment in research, as evidenced, for example, by published work.

Tau Beta Pi

The Tau Beta Pi Association, a national engineering honor society founded in 1885 to offer appropriate recognition for superior scholarship and exemplary character to technical students and professional persons, has a chapter at Princeton. Engineering students whose academic standing is in the upper eighth of the junior class or the upper fifth of the senior class are considered for membership.

Commencement Speakers

The Valedictory and the Latin Salutatory are awarded by vote of the faculty to two of the highest-ranking members of the graduating class. The special qualifications of a student as valedictorian or salutatorian are taken into account as well as scholastic standing.