Honorary Degrees at UPEI

About Honorary Degrees

An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations. The degree is typically a doctorate and may be awarded to someone who has no prior connection with the academic institution.

Honorary degrees are conferred honoris causa, "for the sake of honour” and are awarded as a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa at the University of Prince Edward Island.

UPEI honorary degrees are intended to recognize outstanding provincial, national, and international contributions in any field(s) of endeavour. Whether these are made by Prince Edward Islanders, or by individuals with strong PEI connections, their contributions should reflect extraordinary intellectual or artistic achievements or significant service to society set at a standard of excellence that merit the University's highest honour. 

At UPEI, two honorary degrees are conferred at each the morning and afternoon Spring Convocation in May. One of the honorary degree recipients at each convocation usually presents an address.

The tradition of granting honorary degrees at UPEI dates back to the Convocation of its founding institution, Saint Dunstan’s University, in 1960.

Selection of Honorary Degree Recipients

The University of Prince Edward Island welcomes the nomination of worthy individuals for honorary degrees and any member of the public or the University community may submit nominations.

Honorary Degrees from UPEI are conferred on the authorization of the Senate, after the Honorary Degree Committee brings forward the name of suitable candidates for consideration.

UPEI Honorary Degrees are generally not awarded posthumously or in absentia, or to any of the following: current faculty or staff; current members of the Board of Governors and the Senate; and current holders of political office in Canada.

Nominations are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year; however, nominations must be received by the deadline indicated on the online Nomination form for honorary degrees being conferred at Convocation the following May. Download, complete, and mail an Honorary Degree Nomination form (PDF) or complete the online Nomination form to submit your nomination.

Honorary Degree Committee

Honorary Degrees from UPEI are conferred on the authorization of the Senate, after the Honorary Degree Committee brings forward the names of suitable candidates for consideration.

Committee Terms of Reference

  1. To develop and recommend to Senate for approval regular procedures for the selection of honorary degree candidates.
  2. To recommend to Senate, as needed, names of individuals deemed worthy to receive honorary degrees.
  3. To develop and recommend to Senate for approval, regular procedures for the selection of a convocation speaker from among those approved by Senate as candidates for honorary degrees.
  4. To recommend to Senate, as appropriate, occasions which should be marked by an additional, special convocation.
  5. To review and recommend to the President, from time to time, criteria that would guide the Committee in proposing to the President candidates for the ranks of Honorary Professor or Professor Emeriti.
  6. To recommend to the President, as appropriate, names of individuals deemed worthy to be named Honorary Professors or Professor Emeriti.
  7. The Committee will report to Senate as needed with an annual report to be submitted in April.

Composition and Terms

The Honorary Degree Committee is comprised of:

  • 3 faculty members from different faculties/schools, elected by the Senate (three-year term, initially staggered)*
  • 2 alumni recommended by the UPEI Alumni Association and elected by the Senate (three-year term, initially staggered)*
  • 2 students from the graduating class (no term)*
  • 1 member appointed by the UPEI Board of Governors drawn from among the Board members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council (3-year term)
  • The Chancellor of the University
  • The President of the University as Chairperson

*Normally three-year terms, but initially, one teaching faculty and one alumnus for three years and one of each for two years, to ensure continuity. Members of the Senior Class are to be elected each year. Elections to be held at April meeting of Senate.