Honorary Degrees

The University of Kansas awards honorary degrees as an exceptional honor to individuals of notable intellectual, scholarly, professional or creative achievement, or service to humanity, to be awarded an honorary degree from the University of Kansas. An honorary degree is the highest honor bestowed by the university and as such is a reflection of the University of Kansas’ mission, aspirations and values.

Past honorary degree recipients include notable leaders such as Nobel Peace Prize winner and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Google Earth creator Brian McClendon, novelist Sara Paretsky, and Ford chief executive officer Alan Mulally.

The university is now accepting nominations for a 2019 honorary degree. Please submit your nomination by April 15, 2018.

KU awards four honorary degrees:

  • Doctor of Laws (L. L. D.) Notable service to humanity or the professions or contributions to the general welfare of the state, the nation, or the world. 
  • Doctor of Science (Sc. D.) Notable contribution to any science including medicine, the natural, clinical, social and behavioral sciences, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Doctor of Arts (D. A.) Notable contribution to any artistic field including creative and performing arts, music, design, and architecture.
  • Doctor of Letters (Litt. D.) Notable contribution to the humanities, including history, philosophy, language, literature, religion, and critical and cultural studies.

Kansas Board of Regents policy states that an honorary degree shall not be awarded for philanthropic activity or service to the university or the State of Kansas, nor conferred upon any faculty member, administrator, or other official associated with the University until at least five years after such individual has been separated from the institution, nor conferred upon any holder of a Kansas elected or appointed public office until at least five years after such individual has vacated office.

While KU alumni should not be excluded from consideration, the university will continue to recognize distinguished alumni contributions with many other awards.


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times