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Understanding Honours Degrees

While exploring your study options, you might see the following indication:

  • (Hons) Chemistry
  • Business Marketing (Hons)
  • BA (Hons) in Creative Writing

The (Hons) bit stands for Honours. From one country to another, an Honours degree can have different meanings. But a couple of things are common everywhere:

  1. graduating with an Honours degree shows a high level of academic achievement
  2. Honours degrees almost always involve more work and higher levels of commitment

Now, let’s have a look at the most popular countries where you can graduate with Honours:

What is an Honours degree in the UK?

The United Kingdom is the most popular study destination where you can graduate with honours. In fact, the majority of Bachelor’s programmes offered by local universities are honours degrees, and almost all of them include a thesis or research work in the final year of studies.

It usually takes 3-4 years to graduate with honours, and the type of honours degree you receive depends on your overall grades. Based on your academic efforts, you can graduate with:

  • First-Class Honours (First or 1st): You need to complete your studies with an overall mark of 70% or above. It is a great academic achievement and represents an advantage when applying for a Master’s degree or a job.
  • Upper Second-Class Honours (2:1): You need an overall grade of 60-69% to receive it. This degree type is a common admission requirement when applying for a Master’s programme.
  • Lower Second-Class Honours (2:2): To obtain this degree, you need a mark of 50-59%. It is not as prestigious as the First or 2:1 degree but is still accepted by certain Master’s programmes.
  • Third-Class Honours (Third or 3rd): It is offered to students who finish their studies with an overall mark of 40-49%. While it is still a pass, it will be challenging to compete with other students when applying for a Master’s degree.
  • Ordinary Bachelor’s degree: It is awarded if you miss the 40% mark by a small margin.

What is an Honours degree in Australia?

In Australia, Honours is an additional qualification where you can build on your undergraduate studies by completing a self-directed research project and disciplinary or research-focused coursework. This may be integrated into your undergraduate degree or require an additional year of study.

Under the guidance of an academic supervisor, you will choose a thesis topic, create a reading list and identify your method of research. Completing honours shows you have achieved high academic standards and gives you an honours-level award. An honours pathway can open the door for further research study, equipping you with the prerequisite research skills to undertake a research degree such as the PhD.

What is an Honours degree in the US?

As opposed to the Australian curriculum, there is no such thing as an ‘honours degree” in the United States. However, there is a concept of ‘graduating with honours’, but that just refers to being an exemplary student and finishing your studies with a very high GPA. Such students are awarded honorific titles like:

  • cum laude (with praise)
  • magna cum laude (with great praise)
  • summa cum laude (with the highest praise)

What is an Honours degree in Canada?

Meanwhile, in Canada, an honours degree usually refers to a Bachelor’s that takes 4 years to complete. This honours Bachelor’s is more intensive and involves a higher level of specialisation. To enrol in most Master’s programmes offered by Canadian universities, you will need a 4-year honours degree.

Interested to get your Honours Degree from your favorite university? Contact our counselor to get more information


What are the Different Types of University Degrees? | University of Portsmouth

Understanding honours – The University of Sydney