Those students who complete the entire College course with a standing in the first five percent of the graduating class will earn general honors and receive the baccalaureate degree summa cum laude; those in the next 10 percent, magna cum laude; and those in the next 10 percent, cum laude.
The two students who attain the first and second highest standings for the College course shall be given, respectively, valedictory and salutatory honors. To be eligible for valedictory or salutatory honor, a student must have earned at least 23 units of credit at Hamilton.
Honors in the concentration are awarded by vote of the faculty in the area of concentration to those seniors who have completed courses that satisfy the concentration with an average of not less than 88 and who have also met with distinction the additional criteria established for honors in the concentration. Individual departments and programs may require a higher average. These criteria are listed in the departmental entries online. Matters of character constitute legitimate considerations for a department to deny an award of honors in the concentration.
The College also recognizes academic achievement at the conclusion of each semester. At those times, the dean of faculty makes public the names of students who have carried throughout the semester a course load of four or more graded credits with an average of 3.5 or above. (A special criterion for the Dean's List applies to the Term in Washington and Hamilton in New York City programs; see "Academic Programs and Services.")
Phi Beta Kappa
Founded at The College of William and Mary in 1776 to foster love of learning, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest academic honorary society in America. The Hamilton chapter, known as the Epsilon Chapter of New York, was established in 1870. Students are elected during their senior year on the basis of academic distinction in the liberal arts and sciences. In examining the academic records of candidates, the chapter considers the breadth of their engagement with the liberal arts and their fulfillment of the academic purposes and goals of the College. Breadth in the liberal arts normally involves one course in at least five of the six following categories — arts, math/computer science, sciences, social sciences, languages and humanities. In at least three of those categories, the student will have taken a course at the 200-level or above. The Hamilton chapter normally selects about 10 percent of the senior class for membership.
Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, is one of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world and is the international honor society of science and engineering. The Hamilton College chapter was installed in 1965. The mission of Sigma Xi is "to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public's understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition." Students who show marked aptitude for research and who are continuing in research at the graduate level can be elected to associate membership. Membership is by nomination and election by full and active members, and is based on a student's performance in a research project, presentation and publication of results of research.
Lambda Pi Eta
The Hamilton College chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, known as Epsilon Kappa, was established in 1996. Membership in Lambda Pi Eta is based on academic excellence in and commitment to communications. The purpose of the society is to recognize, foster and encourage outstanding scholastic achievement in communications.
Omicron Delta Epsilon
The Hamilton College chapter of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the international honor society in economics, was established in 1990. The society recognizes scholastic attainment in economics, encourages the establishment of closer ties between students and faculty members in economics, and emphasizes the professional aspects of economics as a career in the academic world, business, government and international organizations.
Phi Alpha Theta
Alpha Epsilon Upsilon, the Hamilton College chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, was installed in 1991. This international honor society recognizes academic excellence and promotes the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication and the exchange of learning and thought among historians.
Phi Sigma Iota
Iota Nu, the Hamilton College chapter of Phi Sigma Iota, was installed in 1977. This national honor society encourages scholarship and recognizes achievement in foreign and classical languages and literatures.
Pi Sigma Alpha
Known as Tau Kappa, the Hamilton College chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha was established in 1993. This national political science honor society recognizes academic achievement in various fields of political science and encourages intellectual discourse on public affairs and international relations among students and faculty members.
The Hamilton College chapter of Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology, was established in 1977. The purpose of the society is to advance the science of psychology and to encourage, stimulate and maintain members' scholarship in all fields, particularly psychology.
Fellowships, Prizes and Prize Scholarships
In addition to the honors listed in this section, the College awards fellowships, prizes and prize scholarships in recognition of academic and other kinds of achievement.
Fellowships are awarded to graduating seniors to permit them to continue their education.
Most prizes are given for academic achievement in a particular discipline, either in general coursework or in an essay or other exercise. A few prizes recognize personal character or service to the College community.
Prize scholarships are competitive and are awarded to students in recognition of outstanding achievement. A number of endowed scholarship funds, established by alumni and friends of the College, support them. See Scholarships and Prizes.