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VIII. Graduation

Graduation depends on the student’s successful completion of all stated requirements for the degree. The determination of failure to meet the college requirements is the responsibility of the Registrar and the determination of failure to meet departmental or program requirements is the responsibility of the department or program chair. In the case of interdepartmental or multidisciplinary majors or majors in the Independent Program, all distribution and departmental requirements are the responsibility of the program. In the case of failure, an opportunity for make-up will be considered by the dean, in consultation with the Committee on Student Records and the departments and programs concerned.

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A. General and Departmental Honors

By faculty legislation, general honors are granted to those graduates whose grade point averages rank them in the first 20% of the class.  The Registrar determines this ranking just before commencement. 

Departmental and program honors are granted according to criteria developed by the several academic departments and programs.  These criteria are reviewed annually and, each spring, the academic records of nominees for departmental and program honors are reviewed by the faculty Committee on Student Records, which has responsibility for assuring their conformity with the established criteria. 

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B. Phi Beta Kappa

Vassar was the first women’s college to be recognized by Phi Beta Kappa and received its charter in 1898.  Members are elected by the Vassar chapter each spring.  The basis for selection is evidence of high distinction in an academic program that exhibits breadth and substance and in which each of the general areas of the liberal arts—arts, languages, social sciences, and natural sciences—is well represented.

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C. Sigma Xi

Sigma Xi is an international honor society of scientists and engineers dedicated to recognizing scientific achievement.  Founded in 1886 at Cornell University, the society was designed to award excellence in scientific research and to encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among scientists in all fields.  Sigma Xi is a non-profit membership society of approximately 75,000 scientists and engineers.  Nearly 200 Sigma Xi members have won the Nobel Price.

A Sigma Xi Club was established at Vassar College in 1959 and recognized as an active chapter in 1998.  In 2001, the trustees of Vassar College approved the recognition of graduating seniors as associate members of Sigma Xi based upon their research accomplishments and academic record.  Vassar College is one of the few liberal arts colleges in the country where graduating seniors are bestowed the honor of associate membership in Sigma Xi.

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