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Honorary degrees

The Vancouver and Okanagan 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, and recognizes 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 Vancouver Senate Tributes Committee and the Okanagan Senate Learning and Research 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; and 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, and 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 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 Vancouver or Okanagan campus are considered by the Vancouver Senate Tributes Committee and the Okanagan Senate Learning and Research 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 bottom of the page.

Nominations must be received by September 30. 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 Collection website.

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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