3 Reasons Why Honorary Degrees are a Joke and Its Benefits

There are a million and one reasons why honorary degrees are a jokebut for this article, I will only mention 3 of the million reasons—I for one do not place too much respect on them and I will show reasons why I do not regard them.

Before we take a look at the reasons why honorary degrees are a joke, we first have to understand—for those who do not know of having an idea—what honorary degrees entail.

What is an Honorary Degree?

An academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding organization) has waived all customary prerequisites is known as an honorary degree. Other names for it include honoris causa and ad honorem, both of Latin origin (“to the honor”).

The degree, which is typically a doctorate or, less frequently, a master’s degree, may be given to a person who has never been associated with the academic institution or who has never completed any postsecondary education. The following is an illustration of how to recognize a recipient of this award: Business administration doctorate.

The degree is frequently awarded in recognition of a renowned visitor’s contributions to a particular subject or to society at large.

Sometimes it is advised to mention these degrees in the awards part of one’s curriculum vitae (CV) rather than the education section. Institutions of higher education generally request that recipients “refrain from adopting the misleading title” and limit the use of the title “Dr” before their name to any engagement with the institution of higher education in question and not within the broader community when it comes to this honorific.

With 150 honorary degrees under his belt, Theodore Hesburgh held the record for most honorary degrees given.

For what it is worth, Honorary degrees are given to people who have some sort of standing socially and are mirrored to look like the recipient is receiving the real thing. In other words, they are false clones of the real.

There are free honorary degrees that are available online for those who are not interested in the joys of academic labor and are interested in taking any of them. I for one see that as a lazy man’s approach to academic excellence and I am not changing this opinion about that and why honorary degrees are a joke to me.

Why Honorary Degrees are a Joke

3 Reasons Why Honorary Degrees are a Joke

1.      Honorary Degrees are actually a disrespect to those who earn them

I’ve been considering Justin Timberlake obtaining an honorary doctorate in music from Berklee (admittedly, I know very little about music academics, but this is mostly just an example). Clearly, Timberlake has made significant contributions to the music industry.

He has certainly put in a lot of effort to reach where he is now and is a brilliant musician (at least some people appear to think so). I believe he deserves to be acknowledged for his accomplishments, but awarding him a doctorate is incredibly insulting to those who toiled tirelessly to get it. It also misrepresents his qualifications.

It’s challenging to earn a Ph.D. really difficult Because of this, the majority of persons who enroll in doctoral programs never complete them. Many quit the process when they find it too difficult to complete their dissertation. The individuals who succeed in making it to the finish must put in many hours of effort to do so. The completion of certain curricula required near-perfect grades.

It was necessary to ace difficult exams that needed months of study. Over the course of several years, extensive and rigorous studies had to be completed and published. The hard effort you’ve put in has had to be harshly criticized by qualified professionals in order to break your soul. Before they called you a “doctor,” this and other things had to be done.

If you earn a doctorate, nobody will question you. You are knowledgeable.

Then, a college may opt to award one of these degrees to a student who has never even visited the campus. This person’s qualifications are frequently a mystery because they did not fulfill the same academic standards established for her. Although these individuals have probably achieved a lot, they cannot possibly understand what it is like to see their peers leave school one by one as they worry that you may be the next.

I don’t want to disparage those who have been awarded honorary degrees. Truly, those who have are frequently extraordinary human beings. It just so happens that they didn’t follow the conventional route to success, which in my opinion ought to be a prerequisite for receiving a degree. Shouldn’t success be a sufficient reward in and of itself? Maybe another award that doesn’t confer the title “doctor” would be more fitting.

I suppose it really doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things, but nothing matters, and why honorary degrees are a joke to me.

2.      It Belittles the Hard Work of Deserving Students

One of the other reasons why honorary degrees are a joke is that it is issued to individuals for the sheer sake of popularity… such as those issued to celebrities; who have not done the prerequisite course work nor the hard work accompanying it to be able to successfully complete the academic programs the students are involved in.

3.      It is Given to Individuals who are Richer or Have Achieved Outside of Education

Honorary doctorates from reputable colleges are often given to those who have accomplished far more than anybody with a doctorate could ever hope to. Will HM The Queen’s receipt of an Oxford University Doctor of Civil Law degree elevate her status?

Is Dr. The Hon. Louis Cha OBE, the best-selling living Chinese author (over 100 million official copies sold on the strength of just 14 traditional Chinese novels), co-founder, and first editor-in-chief of a legendary paper, going to mislead the public in any way by accepting an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Cambridge? (He later read for an MPhil and Ph.D. from Cambridge, and he additionally received a Ph.D. from Peking University.)

In some circumstances, it will deceive the general public. For instance, a well-known instructor in Hong Kong goes by the name Dr. Tann since Armstrong University awarded her an honorary doctorate (she hasn’t started studying for a master’s degree yet).

But wouldn’t it be deceptive in and of itself if she did enroll at and eventually get a Ph.D. from that university (which is not accredited by the UN or the US government and has previously been shut down)? To take things a step further, some individuals are accused of ‘buying’ non-honorary doctorates from unrecognized colleges. How is it going to be any better?

Therefore, this is unimportant. Honorary doctorates from reputable universities are only awarded to individuals who have made far more accomplishments than what a doctorate suggests you should have accomplished, and those who obtained their doctorates by simply purchasing them did so from dubious institutions that shouldn’t have been recognized (and frequently aren’t) as universities in the first place.

Eason Chan, the King of Asian Pop and self-proclaimed “God of Song,” received an honorary doctorate from Kingston University. Time magazine ranked Chan’s classic album one of the five finest Asian albums, and he is the subject of many other publications.

On the strength of his gifts to the university, Sultan Vicwood Chong MBE JP, an honorary dean, multi-millionaire who practically owns a city in China, and member of the National Committee of China, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Victoria in Canada.

You cannot seriously believe that any average Ph.D. student has put in as much “hard work” or achieved anything even near to what any of these folks have accomplished, even accounting for the aforementioned celebrity tutor.

There is no need to pursue an academic doctorate any longer because those who have been honored have already advanced far beyond that level of achievement, just as the then-Vice Chancellor of Cambridge told Dr. Cha when he asked her about applying for an actual doctorate after receiving his honorary one.

Even taking into consideration the aforementioned celebrity tutor, it is impossible to conceive that a typical Ph.D. student could have produced anything even close to what any of these people have.

As the then-Vice Chancellor of Cambridge informed Dr. Cha when he inquired about pursuing a real doctorate after getting his honorary one, people who have been honored have already moved far above that level of success and there is no longer any need to acquire an academic degree.

Benefits of Honorary Degrees

Giving out honorary degrees serves the purposes of affiliation and exposure for colleges. By awarding these degrees, the university receives free advertising via the media, which ultimately draws additional students to the institution.

Universities abroad take gifts seriously since they are a significant source of funding. The institution attracts contributors by awarding honorary degrees to well-known individuals.

Even though the practice of awarding honorary degrees has drawn some criticism over the years, many academic institutions are still doing it. Why stop when it benefits colleges and famous people alike?

Also Getting an honorary doctorate has several advantages. An honorary degree can be used for self-gratification and self-recognition. All things considered; recipients of honorary degrees can utilize them in their careers.

Professional Credibility – Many recipients of honorary doctorates will use the title “doctor” in correspondence and on their business cards. As a result, this can give your professional practice credibility and give you a competitive advantage over other professionals who lack this certification.

Opportunities for Professional Development – If you’re considering pursuing a career in academia or research in your area of expertise. You could have an edge over others who don’t have this level of education if you have an honorary degree.


There are a million and one reasons why honorary degrees are a joke, and I hope with these few I have highlighted there can be a retracing of steps and discontinuation of this.

Reasons Why Honorary Degrees are a Joke—FAQs

Is an Honorary Degree an Actual Degree?

Honorary doctorates are not equivalent to ordinary doctorates in terms of academic standing. While famous personalities and other notable individuals could be awarded honorary doctorates by universities, the degrees have no academic value.

Are Honorary Degrees Worth Anything?

Though it is not an actual degree, it is worth something in the fact that it is a recognition made to an accomplished individual by a university.

Can You Reject an Honorary Degree?

Yes, it is possible to reject an honorary degree if you so do not want it.

Can you put an Honorary Degree on your Resume?

Although impressive, an honorary degree is not normally something that would be listed on a CV.