Schools and colleges may be interested in conferring posthumously a degree to a student who is near completion of her/his degree so as to recognize the academic achievement of that student who, in all likelihood, would have fulfilled the requirements of the degree. In all such cases, conferral of a degree must also be balanced with attention to academic and institutional integrity.


Decisions on awarding of posthumous degrees will be made using the following criteria:

For award of a posthumous baccalaureate degree in memoriam:

  • The student was a senior.
  • The student was enrolled in a degree program at the time of death and was in good academic standing.

For award of a posthumous graduate degree in memoriam:

  • For graduate degrees not requiring a research product, the student was enrolled in courses that would have completed the degree requirements at the time of death, and he/she would have passed the courses with an acceptable grade.
  • For graduate degrees requiring a research product, the student had completed all course and other requirements pursuant to the degree and was near completion of his/her dissertation/thesis; and the student’s committee determines his/her scholarship to be substantial work and worthy of the degree.

For award of a posthumous commendation in memoriam:

  • A continuously enrolled student who dies before meeting the criteria listed above may be nominated for a posthumous commendation. Such a nomination would be appropriate for a student who has made substantial progress toward a degree or has achieved particular distinction during her/his tenure at the university.


  1. When a recommendation for the awarding of a posthumous recognition is received, the student’s academic department and appropriate student services office determines whether to recommend the degree based on the above criteria.
  2. The appropriate dean or director, or the dean of the Graduate School in the case of a graduate student, forwards the recommendation to the chancellor for conferral.
  3. Upon approval, the Office of the Registrar will be notified and will record the awarding of the appropriate degree in memoriam in the student’s transcript.
  4. The registrar will send a diploma to the student’s family and invite the family to send a representative to participate in the commencement ceremony on behalf of the student.
  5. The student’s name will be listed in the appropriate commencement ceremony program.

[UW-Madison Faculty Document 2146a, 7 December 2009]