Latin Honor GPAs
Cum laude is Latin for "with honor" (literally "with praise") and serves as a way to distinguish students with exemplary academic success. Schools confer honors in a variety of ways and there is no standardized set of criteria.
Most colleges award three tiers of honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude) based on the college's own unique requirements. The determining factor is usually GPA, but college prerequisites for graduating with honors may also include completion of an honors thesis or early graduation. With the exception of law students, Latin honors are almost always given to students earning bachelor degrees.
High schools traditionally recognize the highest grade in the class with the honor of valedictorian, although there is a trend towards recognizing multiple top students—including classes with dozens of valedictorians. Some high schools use the three-tiered Latin honors system and award honors based on GPA or class ranking percentage.
Cum Laude GPA
Cum laude is the most common Latin honor conferred for academic achievement. Although requirements for the honor varies depending on the school, cum laude is generally awarded to the top 25-35% of the class and requires average GPA of around 3.5-3.7.
Magna Cum Laude GPA
Magna cum laude means "with great honor" and is a higher distinction than cum laude. It is generally given to students in the top 10-15% of their class and the estimated average GPA would be 3.8-3.9. For some schools, magna cum laude is the highest possible honor.
Summa Cum Laude GPA
Summa cum laude translates to "with highest honor" and is generally given to students in the top 1-5% of the class. This honor is sometimes reserved for students with perfect grades (4.0+), but the criteria varies depending on the school. Some colleges even have different GPA requirements for different majors—for example, an education major might need a 3.96 to graduate summa cum laude, while graduates from the school of medicine only need a 3.87.