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Graduation Awards and Recognitions


The Graduate School offers the following awards to recognize graduate students for their accomplishments. Information regarding these awards may be found in the Graduate Catalog. We are exceptionally proud of each student who achieves these recognitions and the hard work and dedication to study that it reflects.

Distinction and Highest Distinction

At the time of graduation, graduating students with grade point averages of 3.80 to 3.89 are recognized as “graduating with distinction,” and graduating students with grade point averages of 3.90 or higher are recognized as “graduating with highest distinction.”

For the purpose of this recognition in Commencement ceremonies, including the printed Commencement program, the grade point average is calculated at the conclusion of the semester prior to the semester in which the student graduates (e.g., May graduates’ grade point averages are calculated after the due date for final grades in December).

If a student’s final cumulative grade point average increases by completion of the degree program to a qualifying grade point average for honors, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the Graduate School within one month after Commencement to request a certificate of recognition.

Click below for our list of recipients: 

Graduate Leadership & Service Award

This award recognizes a graduating student who has consistently made contributions that benefit others in alignment with the University mission to lead and serve.  The contributions may be in the form of leadership through academic and/or extracurricular accomplishments, volunteer work, community activism, or public service.


The Athenaeum is an honor society sponsored by the Graduate School that recognizes the scholarly, creative, and intellectual pursuits of graduate students. Students meeting the following criteria are nominated by members of the Council of Graduate Program Directors, and selected by the Graduate School Academic Services team.

  1. Completion of 24 credits of coursework at the time of nomination
  2. Attainment of an overall graduate grade point average of 3.80
  3. Presentation or publication of scholarly or creative work in a public forum (this may include the Symposium for Graduate Research at Valparaiso University)
  4. Evidence of good character