Honorary Degrees

University of Alberta Honorary Degree Robes

University of Alberta Honorary Degree Robes

Frequently Asked Questions


The vision of the University of Alberta is to inspire the human spirit through outstanding achievements in learning, discovery and citizenship in a creative community, building one of the world’s great universities for the public good.  This vision will be reflected in the individuals who receive honorary degrees from the University.

Honorary degrees are intended to honour individuals whose character and whose extraordinary intellectual, artistic or athletic achievements or service to society set a standard of excellence that merits the University’s highest honour.  In accepting an honorary degree, the recipient also honours the spirit of the University.

Honorary degrees are intended to honour individuals of upstanding character whose contributions are extraordinary and inspirational. Honorary degrees celebrate individuals who have had a transformative impact and who represent diverse backgrounds and fields of endeavour, including:

  • Leading academics in all disciplines,
  • Creative minds in arts and performance,
  • Athletes of extraordinary achievement,
  • Public intellectuals and opinion-makers,
  • Visionary leaders in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors,
  • Contributors of long-standing and exemplary service to the University, and
  • Community builders and philanthropists.

Honorary degrees are 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; or Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Anyone, including members of the public, can nominate anyone they feel meets the criteria above for a University of Alberta Honorary Degree.  Current members of the Board of Governors, the Senate and members of the academic and non-academic staff at the University of Alberta will not normally be considered for an honorary degree. Active Canadian politicians will not be considered for an honorary degree. Honorary degrees are not conferred posthumously or in absentia.

Under the Post-Secondary Learning Act, the Chancellor may, on the authorization of the Senate, grant an honorary degree on a person.

The University of Alberta Senate's Honorary Degrees Committee chooses the honourees.  Its membership includes the following: the Chancellor, the President and Vice-Chancellor; the Provost and Vice President (Academic); representatives from the academic community including Deans and Professors; and representatives from the Support Staff, the Alumni Association, the Students' Union, the Graduate Students' Association; and elected and appointed Senators from the community.