Reasons Why Honorary Degrees are a Joke and Its Benefits

Reasons Why Honorary Degrees are a Joke and Its Benefits

Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Akwaowo Akpan

Honorary degrees are a joke for a million and one reasons, but for the purposes of this essay, I will just name three of those reasons. I, for one, do not hold honorary degrees in high regard, and I will explain why.

For those who are unaware or have no concept what honorary degrees entail, we must first comprehend what they entail before we can examine the reasons why honorary degrees are a joke.

What is an Honorary Degree?

An honorary degree is one for which a university (or other degree-awarding entity) has waived the usual requirements. It also goes by the Latin terms honoris causa and ad honorem, both of which mean “to the honor.”

A person who has never been affiliated with the academic institution or who has never earned a postsecondary degree may be awarded the degree, which is normally a doctorate or, less frequently, a master’s degree. An example of how to acknowledge a recipient of this honor is as follows: PhD in business administration.

The degree is frequently given in honor of a distinguished visitor’s contributions to the field or to society as a whole.

On one’s curriculum vitae (CV), it may be advisable to list these degrees under awards rather than under education. Higher education institutions typically ask that graduates “refrain from adopting the false title” and restrict the use of the title “Dr” before their name to interactions with that particular institution of higher education and not the general public.

Theodore Hesburgh held the record for most honorary degrees awarded with 150 under his belt.

For what it’s worth, honorary degrees are presented to individuals who have some level of social status and are replicated to make the recipient appear as though they are receiving the genuine article. They are phony replicas of the real, to put it another way.

If you’re interested in earning an honorary degree but don’t want the satisfaction of academic work, you can do so online for free. Honorary degrees are a joke to me because I, for one, think that is a lazy man’s approach to academic brilliance. I won’t be altering my mind about that.

6 Reasons Why Honorary Degrees are a Joke

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

This is the first reason honorary degrees are a joke. Justin Timberlake might want to get an honorary doctorate in music from Berklee (admittedly, I know very little about music academics, but this is mostly just an example). There is no doubt that Timberlake has made important contributions to the music business.

He is an excellent musician and has put in a lot of work to be where he is now (at least some people appear to think so). I think he deserves to be recognized for his achievements, but giving him a doctorate is a great disservice to those who worked so hard to get it. Additionally, it exaggerates his credentials.

Obtaining a Ph.D. is quite difficult. As a result, the majority of people who enroll in PhD programs drop out before finishing them. Those that are able to complete the race must put in a lot of time and effort to do it. Some programs required near-perfect scores to be completed.

It was essential to succeed on challenging exams that required months of study. Extensive and meticulous investigations had to be done over a number of years and published. It took qualified specialists harshly criticizing the hard work you put in to crush your spirit. This and other things have to be completed before they could name you a “doctor.”

No one will doubt your credentials if you receive a doctorate. You possess wisdom.

A college might then decide to provide one of these degrees to a student who has never even been on the campus. The qualifications of this person are sometimes a mystery because they did not meet the same academic requirements as those set for her. These people have probably accomplished a lot, but they cannot possibly comprehend what it is like to watch your friends drop out of school one by one while you worry that you might be the next.

No disrespect is intended for people who have received honorary degrees. Indeed, individuals who possess are typically amazing people. They simply didn’t take the traditional path to success, which in my opinion should be a must for earning a degree. Success should be enough of a reward in and of itself, right? It could be more appropriate to give out a different honor that doesn’t grant the title “doctor.”

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose it really doesn’t matter, but nothing matters, which is why honorary degrees seem like a joke to me.

2.  It Belittles the Hard Work of Deserving Students

This is the second reason honorary degrees are a joke. Another reason why honorary degrees are a joke is that they are given to people for the sole purpose of gaining recognition, such as celebrities who haven’t taken the necessary courses or put in the necessary effort to finish the academic programs they are enrolled in.

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

This is the third reason honorary degrees are a joke. People who have accomplished considerably more than anyone with a doctorate could possibly hope to are frequently awarded honorary doctorates by renowned universities. Will HM The Queen’s earning of a Doctor of Civil Law degree from Oxford University advance her position?

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

It may occasionally mislead the general population. An example is Dr. Tann, a well-known lecturer in Hong Kong who received an honorary doctorate from Armstrong University (she hasn’t yet begun her master’s degree program).

But if she did enroll at and subsequently earn a Ph.D. from that university (which is not recognized by the UN or the US government and has previously been closed down), wouldn’t that in and of itself be misleading? To make matters worse, some people are charged with “purchasing” non-honorary doctorates from unregistered universities. How will it improve in any way?

This is therefore of no consequence. Those who obtained their doctorates by merely purchasing them did so from questionable institutions that shouldn’t have been recognized (and frequently aren’t) as universities in the first place. 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.

The self-described “God of Song” and King of Asian Pop, Eason Chan, was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kingston University. His iconic record was named one of the top five Asian albums by Time magazine, and Chan has been featured in numerous other publications.

Sultan Vicwood Chong MBE JP, an honorary dean, multi-millionaire who literally owns a city in China, and member of the National Committee of China, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Victoria in Canada as a result of his contributions to the school.

Even taking into account the aforementioned celebrity tutor, it is impossible to think that any normal Ph.D. student has put in as much “hard work” or has accomplished 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 doctorate.

It is inconceivable to think that an ordinary Ph.D. student could have created anything even close to what any of these folks have, even taking into account the aforementioned celebrity instructor.

People who have been recognized have already advanced well beyond that level of success, and there is no longer any need to earn an academic degree, as the then-Vice Chancellor of Cambridge reminded Dr. Cha when he enquired about obtaining an actual doctorate after receiving his honorary one.

4. It has become common

Nowadays, many people have honorary degrees which makes them seem less special or important. Honorary degrees are given to people who help universities a lot, mostly because of their politics. When people can buy these awards, they are not special anymore.

5. It Misleads the Public

It’s not fair when someone who hasn’t done any school work gets a degree just because they’re famous. This is very frustrating because sometimes famous or rich people who donated a lot of money to a university get special treatment.

Sometimes, people who get honorary degrees call themselves “doctor” even though they didn’t really earn that title through studying. This can trick people into thinking they have more education than they actually do. This bad behavior can trick people into thinking someone knows a lot more than they actually do because of their fancy title.

6. Honorary degrees are a Joke Because people don’t earn it

This is the last reason honorary degrees are a joke. Since people don’t have to pass a difficult test to get this degree. Most people think it’s funny.

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Benefits of Honorary Degrees

Colleges benefit from association and visibility by awarding honorary degrees. By conferring these degrees, the university benefits from unpaid publicity in the media, which eventually brings in more students.

Considering that gifts are a key source of income, international universities treat them seriously. The college recruits supporters by conferring honorary degrees on famous people.

Many academic institutions continue to grant honorary degrees in spite of criticism that the practice has received throughout the years. Why stop when it helps both colleges and well-known individuals?

Also Having an honorary doctorate offers many benefits. It is possible to use an honorary degree for self-gratification and self-recognition. Honorary degree recipients can use them in their jobs, all things considered.

Professional Credibility – Many honorary doctorate recipients may refer to themselves as “doctors” in correspondence and on their business cards. As a result, you may gain credibility for your professional practice and a competitive edge over other professionals who do not possess this qualification.

Opportunities for Professional Development – If you want to work in academia or conduct research in your field. If you have an honorary degree, you can have an advantage over people who don’t have this level of education.


There are a zillion and one reasons why honorary degrees are a joke, and I hope that by highlighting just a few of them, we can go back and stop doing this.


  • Akwaowo Akpan

    Hi there, welcome to Online Studying Services. As a fan of authentic information and a student, I devise this means to offer reliable information to international students wishing to either study abroad or online. Thanks for stopping by!

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