A student’s class rank is based on a calculation weighted as follows: the grade average in all concentration courses (all Social Studies requirements, all courses in the social sciences or history, and all courses in the student’s plan of study) x 55; the senior thesis x 40; the oral defense of the senior thesis x 5; and the oral general examination x 10. The total is then divided by 110 to determine the final average.
Final term course grades are not available in time to be considered by Social Studies in honors calculations. The Committee votes on a recommendation for each student based on seven semesters of grades and then forwards its recommendation to the College. By the time that the College votes on these recommendations, the final term course grades are available.
The Faculty of Harvard College cannot raise a student’s recommendation above that which is determined by the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, but it can lower the recommendation when the student fails to meet college-wide cut-offs set by the Faculty. Harvard College limits the number of students graduating summa cum laude to 5% of the class, magna cum laude to 15% of the class, and cum laude to 30% of the class.