Because Brown places greater weight on the act of learning than on external marks of success, the University grants only one honor at commencement: magna cum laude. Brown's Faculty Rules stipulate that this distinction should be awarded to no more than 20% of the graduating class each year. Grades of "A" or "S with Distinction" for courses taken at Brown count toward University honors.
Honors in the Concentration
Every concentration program allows students to pursue honors in the concentration. Students usually apply for honors in the junior year. Admission into honors is usually based on grades and an honors thesis proposal. Concentration honors are awarded to students whose honors theses meet the criteria established by the academic department. Exceptional honors theses may be nominated for the Dean of the College's Distinguished Senior Thesis award.
National Honors Societies
In addition to University honors and honors in the concentration, Brown houses chapters of three national honor societies, each of which confers special honors on students according to their course of study.
Phi Beta Kappa
Phi Beta Kappa (ΦΒΚ), the oldest and most prestigious academic honors society in the United States, recognizes outstanding academic accomplishment in the course of a broad liberal education. Membership in the Rhode Island Alpha chapter is determined by election only; no nominations or applications are accepted. More information about election criteria and procedures is available on the Dean of the College website.
Tau Beta Pi
Tau Beta Pi, the second oldest honors society in the United States, was founded in 1885. Whereas Phi Beta Kappa recognizes students who demonstrate excellence and breath in the liberal arts and sciences, Tau Beta Pi bestows honor on students who have distinguished themselves in Engineering. Visit Tau Beta Pi's website at http://www.tbp.org for more information.
Sigma Xi recognizes academic and research achievements in science at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Seniors who have demonstrated a high level of competence in science qualify for Associate Membership in the Brown University Chapter of Sigma Xi. Qualification criteria and application instructions are detailed at http://biology.brown.edu/bug/sigmaXI.html.