At most Convocation ceremonies, the University confers an Honorary Degree on an individual, who then gives an address. The tradition of granting honorary degrees at the University of Alberta dates back to our first Convocation, in 1908.
Honorary degrees are generally awarded for one of three reasons: to recognize extraordinary intellectual or artistic achievement; to honor service to the university and to the wider society; and to recognize men and women who might serve as examples to the institution's student body. An honorary degree, it is said, honours both the grantee and the spirit of the institution.
Conferred honoris causa, "for the sake of honor," honorary degrees are awarded as one of three types:
- Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
- Doctor of Letters, honoris causa
- Doctor of Science, honoris causa
The PhD is granted only as an earned degree.