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Honorary degrees

The Okanagan and Vancouver Senates welcome the nomination of worthy individuals for honorary degrees.

The vision of the University of British Columbia is to educate exceptional global citizens and promote the values of a sustainable civil society. This vision is reflected in the individuals who receive honorary degrees from the University. In selecting candidates, the University makes a public declaration of its values, recognizing individuals of such calibre that in honouring them, it too is honoured. In doing so, the University motivates and inspires its students and graduates.

The Okanagan Senate Learning and Research Committee and the Vancouver Senate Tributes Committee attempt, through their respective recommendations of nominees, to reflect the cultural diversity of Canada and the international character and diversity of the University itself.

Honorary degrees are intended to recognize individuals who have made substantial contributions to society at the provincial, national, and/or international levels, such as:

  • Leading academics in all disciplines and creative minds in arts and performance;
  • Public intellectuals and opinion makers;
  • Visionary leaders and exemplary public figures;
  • Community builders and philanthropists.

Honorary degrees are conferred honoris causa, "for the sake of honour," and are awarded as one of three types: Doctor of Laws, honoris causa; Doctor of Letters, honoris causa; or Doctor of Science, honoris causa.


The award of an honorary degree is recognition by the University of British Columbia of distinguished achievement or of outstanding service. The criteria for the award of an honorary degree are excellence, eminence, and accomplishment. Nominees must be exceptionally distinguished: scholars, creative artists, public servants, persons prominent in the community and the professions, and others who have made significant contributions locally, nationally, or globally.

Honorary degrees are not normally awarded to those who currently hold political office, including Senators, nor to current or former UBC faculty members, nor to those whose contributions may be considered to be no longer of current interest or at previous levels of significance. In approving candidates for honorary degrees, the Senates strive for diversity of backgrounds, disciplines, and spheres of contribution. A nomination that may possibly be controversial will need to answer the question: "Is UBC willing to deal with any and all possible consequences?"

The nomination process

Any member of the public or the University community may submit nominations. All nominations are valid for a period of three years (the year of nomination, plus two years). Nominations for UBC honorary degrees to be awarded at either the Okanagan or Vancouver campus are considered by the Okanagan Senate Learning and Research Committee, and the Vancouver Senate Tributes Committee, respectively. Upon review of nominations, each Committee develops a list of proposed individuals, which is then recommended to the respective Senate for final approval. UBC honorary degrees are typically awarded during graduation ceremonies at each campus.

To nominate an individual, click the "Nominate" button at the top or bottom of this page.

Nominations are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year and are reviewed as of October 15 each year. Please note that nominations should include a completed nomination form, up to five (5) letters of support from distinguished referees, and a full curriculum vitae and/or biographical sketch.

Please submit nomination to:

Stephanie Oldford
UBC Enrolment Services
Brock Hall, 2016 – 1874 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Tel: 604.827.0003
Email: stephanie.oldford@ubc.ca

All information submitted on behalf of the nominee will be kept confidential.

For a list of previous recipients and their citations, please visit the UBC Library's Special Collections website.

To nominate an individual, click the "Nominate" button or fill out the UBC Honorary Degree Nomination Form (below) and submit it to the address listed.

A place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Vancouver Senate
2016-1874 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Tel: 604.827.4143
Okanagan Senate Secretariat
UNC 322, 3333 University Way
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7
Tel: 250.807.9619

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