It's the very first job you are applying for, and chances are high you'll be recruited as a junior economist. However, your potential employer has to choose between you and another guy. Both candidates graduated from reputed colleges and got bachelor's degrees in economics.
Both resumes are exceptional, and the decision is tough –– until your future manager notices one phrase in your competitor's CV: magna cum laude. The choice has been made –– ruled against you. Now let's see what this phrase means, why it's important, and how it relates to a GPA score.
How Does GPA Work?
A GPA (Grade Point Average) is a score that demonstrates your academic success in high school and college. It's the sum of all grades divided by the total number of courses you took, so the better your grades are, the higher your GPA is. The average semester grade is called cumulative GPA, and the final score you get when graduating from the university is referred to as overall GPA. The latter is the average cumulative GPAs you got during the entire degree program, which people call simply GPA.
The typical GPA scale ranges from 1.0 to 4.0, and you usually get 2.0 points for a C grade, 3.0 points for a B, and 4.0 points for an A. Thus, a GPA of around 4.0 shows that you were a perfect student who passed almost every exam brilliantly. And, since every recruiter and the potential employer knows how hard it is to study at college and keep a GPA high, this number matters to them. That's why you have to make this point noticeable in your resume. Okay, but how does it relate to magna cum laude?
What Is Magna Cum Laude?
Magna cum laude is one of the three Latin honors designated to students with exceptional academic achievements in college. Cum laude phrase is translated from Latin as "with honor," so let's see what this means in terms of grades.
- Cum laude ("with honor") award shows that your GPA is 3.5 – 3.7, and usually, 25 – 35% of students fall into this category.
- Magna cum laude ("with great honor") statement proves that your GPA is 3.8 – 3.9. These are the top 10 – 15% in a class.
- Summa cum laude ("with highest honor") demonstrates an exceptional academic success of GPA 3.9 – 4.0. Up to 5% of students fall in this category.
Please note that the GPA range of high schools can slightly vary, so some institutions can award you with magna cum laude when you have a GPA of 3.7, while others will assign only cum laude to students with this score. And though your GPA is the core basis of obtaining an honor, there can be additional requirements for cum laude awards, which may alter across colleges. For example, you'll need to complete an honors thesis. High schools honor a valedictorian status to students with exceptional grades. Sometimes there can be several valedictorians in a class!
When to Mention Magna Cum Laude on Your CV
Latin honors enhance your resume, proving that you were among the top students at college. However, employers focus on work experience rather than outstanding academic achievements because it shows professionalism. So, if you graduated from college more than 3 years ago and have worked since then, you probably needn't bother mentioning your honors. On the other hand, there are positions in specific industries that require academic background, and that's when your awards will promote your candidacy. So read the job requirements carefully and tie your educational background to potential responsibilities.
Here are several brief recommendations to help you: if one of the cases below is yours, add a cum laude note to your resume:
- You are a recent graduate, and this is your first job application
- You have work experience of fewer than 3 years
- You aim at law or academic-related positions, where the educational background is vital
- This is a grad school resume
Where to Write about Academic Honors?
Mentioning your honors in Latin depends on the structure of your resume. However, the general standard is that phrases "cum laude," "magna cum laude," or "summa cum laude" must be printed in uncapitalized letters and italics. Also, do not add any words before or after this phrase –– there should be just these three/two words.
Most resumes have an Education Section, where students mention their degrees, GPA, and college or university name. Honors should go below this information, for example:
Bachelor of Arts in Economics / GPA: 3.8
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Graduated in May 2021
Honors: magna cum laude
You don't need to mention GPA after the honors in Latin, so you can do that after writing your degree. Just make sure to put that number down for reference. However, be attentive to match the title of the honor with the corresponding GPA number as data inconsistency can affect your CV and raise questions.
You can also put your honors in a separate section of your resume. Try to put them as bullet points together with other awards. For example:
magna cum laude
National Merit Award
National Honor Society
If you graduated from several institutions and got honors from each, use the first approach to show all your academic achievements.
Being honored by your college is an outstanding academic achievement that will enhance your resume. Though many students graduate from high school, only 35% of them get cum laude awards; that's why Latin honors will help you stand out among other job applicants.
However, when adding this note to your CV, follow the simple rules about the format and location of the honor: print it in low-case italics in the education section. And remember that mentioning honors is crucial only before you get several years of work experience or applying for academic-related positions.