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Latin honors are Latin phrases used to indicate the level of distinction with which an academic degree has been earned. This system is primarily used in the United States, many countries of continental Europe, and some Southeastern Asian countries with European colonial history, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, although some institutions use translations of these phrases rather than the Latin originals. The honors distinction should not be confused with the honors degrees offered in some countries.
Generally, a college's or university's regulations set out definite criteria to be met in order for a student to obtain a given honors distinction. For example, the student might be required to achieve a specific grade point average, to submit an honors thesis for evaluation, to be part of an honors program, or to graduate early. Each university sets its own standards. Since these standards may vary widely it is possible for the same level of Latin honors conferred by different institutions to represent contrasting levels of academic achievement. Similarly, some institutions may grant equivalent (or additional) non-Latin honors to undergraduates. The University of Wisconsin–Madison, for example, has a series of plain English grading honors based on class standing.These honors, when they are used, are almost always awarded to undergraduates earning their bachelor's, and, with the exception of law school graduates, much more rarely to graduate students receiving their master's or doctorate degree. The honor is typically indicated on the diploma. Latin honors are often conferred upon law school students graduating as a Juris Doctor or J.D., in which case they are generally based upon class rank or grade point average.