This policy applies to all UW System institutions.


Section 36.11(7), Wis. Stats., authorizes the UW System Board of Regents to “confer such degrees and grant such diplomas as are usual in universities or as it deems appropriate.” This policy delegates authority and establishes conditions for conferring degrees and certificates and awarding honorary degrees and other types of honors and awards to recognize individuals for distinguished service or excellence within a field of study.

Policy Statement

The Board of Regents authorizes: each UW institution to confer degrees and certificates to candidates who have completed instructional programs offered by the institution and approved by the Board of Regents. Institutions may grant degrees and certificates to candidates who are certified by the institution’s registrar as having met the requirements for the academic program, and who are not, at the time of commencement, under disciplinary action or under charges that could lead to suspension or expulsion. The registrar at each institution shall keep a permanent record of degrees and certificates granted by the institution.

The UW System Board of Regents further authorizes each degree-granting UW institution to award honorary degrees, subject to the requirements of Regent Policy Document 4-20, “Honorary Doctorate Degrees.” UW institutions may also award distinguished service awards, special medals, and similar honors or awards to recognize individuals of exceptional accomplishments and distinction.

Oversight, Roles, and Responsibilities

Each UW institution is responsible for seeking Board approval, in accordance with Board of Regents and UW System Administration policies, of academic programs leading to a degree or certificate and for establishing institutional policies and procedures for conferring degrees and certificates. The registrar at each institution is responsible for maintaining permanent records documenting the conferral of degrees and certificates. UW institutions are also responsible for establishing procedures for recommending and nominating recipients of honors and awards.

UW System Administration’s Office of Academic and Student Affairs is responsible for managing the UW System’s academic program array in accordance with RPD 4-12 and, in that role, shall coordinate the process for seeking Board approval for new degrees and certificates offered within UW System.

UW System Administration’s Office of Finance & Administration is responsible for establishing financial guidelines associated with honors and awards.

The Executive Director and Corporate Secretary of the Board of Regents is responsible for coordinating Board approval of honorary doctorate degrees, as required under RPD 4-20.

Related Laws & Regent Policy Documents

  • s. 36.11(7), Wis. Stats., “Confer Degrees.”
  • RPD 4-20, “Honorary Doctorate Degrees”

History: Res.140, adopted 04/07/1972, created Regent Policy Document 72-x; Res. 1303, adopted September 17, 1976, replaced Regent Policy Document 72-x with Regent Policy Document 76-3; Res. 4035, adopted 04/08/1988, replaced Regent Policy Document 76-3 with Regent Policy Document 88-3, subsequently renumbered 4-6; Res. 11281, adopted 10/11/2019, amended Regent Policy Document 4-6. Technical correction made on 03/02/2023, as authorized by Res. 10835 (adopted 3/9/2017).

See Also:

Regent Policy Document 4-20, Honorary Doctorate Degrees