Graduation and Commencement

Students who complete degree requirements during the fall and spring semesters each academic year are encouraged to participate in the spring Commencement ceremony. 

If a student wishes to participate in the ceremony as a summer graduate, the student must meet the following requirements by the Friday before Senior Honors Convocation:

  • Be within two credits of completing degree requirements at the time of commencement
  • Have a 2.0 GPA or higher
  • Submit the Intent to Graduate form by the published deadline date
  • Complete the “Expected Summer Graduate Degree Completion Form” with advisor approval
  • Be registered for remaining required courses at time of commencement

Students who anticipate completing their degree requirements by August 31 and have been approved to participate in the Commencement ceremony will be presented to the faculty and the Board of Trustees in May for provisional conferral of their degrees, subject to completion of remaining requirements by August 31 (as confirmed by the Registrar).  A student whose degree is provisionally approved in May but who fails to complete remaining degree requirements by August 31 will not receive their degree until all requirements have been satisfied and the faculty and the Board of Trustees have given subsequent approval. 

Graduation with Honors

Graduation with Honors at Lake Forest College may be achieved in two categories: the grade point average (GPA) and the student’s major field.

General Honors

General honors at graduation consist of summa cum laude for GPAs from 3.9 to 4.0, magna cum laude for GPAs from 3.7 up to 3.9, and cum laude for GPAs from 3.4 up to 3.7. In order to achieve honors in one of these categories, a student must have an academic record that satisfies all of the following requirements:

  • At least 14 Lake Forest College courses taken with the full range of the letter grades (A, B, C, D, F, but not CR or P).
  • A Lake Forest GPA equal to or greater than the minimum listed above for the pertinent category.
  • A total GPA, including Lake Forest College courses, Affiliated Off Campus Study courses and transfer courses, that also equals or exceeds the above minimum for the given category.

GPAs are not rounded up; for example, a 3.898 is not in the summa cum laude category. The calculation of a GPA includes plus and minus grades. Repeated courses will be considered in this calculation as long as they follow the policies regarding repetition of courses and have been completed prior to graduation from the College (see “Repeated Courses”). Grades of all transfer courses acceptable by Lake Forest College for transfer credit will be used in GPA computations. For courses that have been repeated, a maximum of two transfer credit grades can be forgiven. Such forgiveness applies only to courses taken prior to the student’s matriculation at Lake Forest College. Forgiveness of transfer credit grades counts toward the maximum of two total forgiven grades before graduation (i.e. students can have two transfer credit grades forgiven after repeating, two LFC credit grades forgiven after repeating, or one from each category). The transfer GPA is combined with the Lake Forest GPA as a weighted average. Transfer grades from colleges or universities with different grading systems are dealt with case by case by the Dean of the Faculty in consultation with the Registrar; where necessary, they will be brought to the Academic Appeals Board.

Honors in the Major

Honors at graduation in the student’s major are based on a clear demonstration of superior mastery of the subject and on the ability to successfully complete a senior thesis. To receive honors in the major, a student must have attained a 3.5 GPA in all courses taken in the major at Lake Forest College, including the final semester. A minimum of six courses must have been taken in the major at the College. A student must be evaluated as having successfully completed a senior thesis. In exceptional circumstances when a senior thesis seems inappropriate, a well-documented senior research project or imaginative creative project brought to fruition in the senior year may be substituted for the senior thesis. The request for such a substitution must be initiated by the project director and requires the unanimous approval of the members of the department(s) involved. As with other theses, the final project will be reviewed by a thesis examining committee consisting of three faculty, at least one from outside the department. Please note that completing a senior seminar will not result in honors in the major.

Distinction in Senior Thesis

If a student’s senior thesis is judged by an examining committee to be an outstanding and original piece of research, Distinction in Senior Thesis is awarded at graduation regardless of whether the student is graduating with honors in his or her major field of study. In exceptional circumstances, a well-documented senior research project or imaginative creative project may substitute for the senior thesis provided members of the departments involved give their unanimous approval. As with other theses, the final project will be reviewed by a thesis examining committee consisting of three faculty, at least one from outside the department.

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa, the national honorary scholastic society founded in 1776, is open to undergraduates with outstanding academic records. Although sheltered by the College, the chapter is an organization independent of the College and of its curriculum, and thus determines its own standards for admission, standards consistent with those of the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. Evaluation of candidates for election includes an examination of their GPA, an appraisal of their coursework, and a recognition of recommendations from their professors. Phi Beta Kappa emphasizes excellence in scholarly achievement and the pursuit of broad cultural interests.