Honorary Doctorate Degree and Title?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by TEKMAN, May 3, 2024.


    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    Can someone use the title, "Dr," for having an honorary Doctorate? This lady bombarded me with LinkedIn messages about her publication and referred to herself as "Dr." Dr. Rebecca Wynn, The Soulful CXO
  2. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    It is a gray area and you will find opinions on all sides of the topic. In years past clergy with honorary doctors of divinity were often called "Dr." That may have been specific to clergy.

    I have seen arguments that state that a university or College gave you a doctorate and even though it's honorary you can use it that way. Maya Angelou famously insisted on being called "Dr."

    Other arguments suggest that an honorary degree shouldn't even be listed among your degrees on a CV but under awards since it is not an earned degree. Further, I have seen it suggested that you not use the title and that the only place the title is appropriate is in the context of the college itself. For instance, a UK University gave Annie Lennox and honorary doctorate and refers to her as Dr. Lennox. But of course that is in the context of the University.

    I would think that it is probably more appropriate to let other people refer to you as doctor with your honorary doctorate than to be pushing the title yourself. That tends to look a little puffed up and needy.

    Billy Graham was sometimes called Dr. Graham but he wasn't introducing himself as Dr Graham.

    On the other hand, it is perfectly appropriate for someone with an earned academic doctorate to refer to themselves as Dr. in the right context. But the barista at Starbucks doesn't care.
    Dustin, RoscoeB and MasterChief like this.
  3. AsianStew

    AsianStew Moderator Staff Member

    MasterChief likes this.
  4. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Interesting. The University of Advancing Technology is a for-profit that doesn't award doctorates but of course undoubtedly can award honorary ones and apparently did.
  5. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    My opinion; if a college or university wants to bestow on someone the title of "Doctor", even honorary, then that person has the right to use it.

    If those schools don't like it, then stop handing out honorary degrees. Problem solved.

    Bruce (who has exactly zero honorary degrees)
    RoscoeB and MasterChief like this.
  6. Tireman 44444

    Tireman 44444 Well-Known Member

    Maybe Degreeinfo can bestow an honorary doctorate on our own Bruce! You have earned it!
  7. Xspect

    Xspect Member non grata

    I purchased my honorary Dmin from Abide using my hard-earned 'merican cash dollar money. It's rightfully mine, as I paid for it and have the receipt to prove it. So yeah, I gonna use it.
    JBjunior and Mac Juli like this.
  8. Futuredegree

    Futuredegree Well-Known Member

    Some people just get it because they are celebrities and rich schools want them to speak at their graduation ceremony....
  9. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    One of the wonderful stories about an honorary doctorate was the case of Dr. Vivien Thomas (an excellent movie called Something the Lord made told his story). The movie starred Most Def and Alan Rickman.

    Issues of discrimination and life prevented him from going to medical school. Yet, he was brilliant. And through his work with a pioneering heart surgeon he was able to exercise his skill and innovation, and saved lives and mentored many young doctors.

    He rose to become a lab supervisor (faculty - Instructor for Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) and some of those doctors he mentored commissioned a painting of him. Johns Hopkins could not award him a Doctor of Medicine due to regulations but awarded him an honorary doctorate and so were able to finally give him the title of Dr. Vivien Thomas by which he was referred from them on.

    Last edited: May 3, 2024
  10. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    An interesting note is that Dr. Vivien Thomas' nephew, Koco Eaton, "graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, trained by many of the physicians his uncle had trained. Eaton trained in orthopedics and as of 2024 is the team doctor for the Tampa Bay Rays."
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  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    As with all other degrees, there are honorary degrees received from Legitimate Schools - and those awarded for a "significant contribution" of money - by a completely bogus "honour-mill." The "honour mill" degree-looking papers are more akin to a dishonourable discharge. Not something you want.

    Exception: Abide University. Everyone knows what they're buying - a bit of fun. And Abide delivers that, in spades.
    MasterChief likes this.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member


    First, you can call yourself "doctor" without any designation from anyone. No one is putting Dr J in jail for it. As long as you're not defrauding anyone, it doesn't matter. (It can matter when the title is used in certain regulated professions. Calling yourself "Dr Jones" isn't a big deal, but "Jimmy Jones, MD" can get you into trouble.)

    Second, when a university awards an honorary doctorate, it is awarding a doctorate. Period. The reason for the award is honorary, but the award is the same. If a university awards you a doctorate, you're a doctor. (Just don't expect anyone with any sense to give it any play. Good luck joining the faculty of a university based on it.)

    Finally, it's usually considered bad form to use the title, although some very famous people have done this.

    Extra Finally, it's a dumb things universities do. I put it on par with being a Kentucky Colonel (no, not Artis Gilmore c. 1975).
    nosborne48 and Tireman 44444 like this.
  13. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    This seems like a good place for that G. K. Chesterton quote: "To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
    RoscoeB, Helpful2013 and MasterChief like this.
  14. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Sigh. I keep posting this but no one seems to believe me. It is "bad form" to take ANY title to yourself including Dr., Rev., Hon., Mr. or Mrs. or Ms or Miss.

    The SOLE exception is where you need to be identified as such. "This is Captain Ahab speaking. Abandon ship!" "I'm Dr. Smith. I need some sugar pills STAT."

    You DO NOT introduce yourself as "Doctor Jones". Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, "This is Frank" on the telephone.

    Even in the military, it's improper to refer to yourself by rank unless you are on duty and performing an official act which requires it.

    Believe me, if they think your title is legitimate, other people won't need prompting to call you by it.

    It's boorish because it's self-aggrandizement which is a serious social offense.
  15. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Having vented the always crabby spleen, it is not necessary to correct anyone who refers to you by your legitimate title. When I was in college, my English professor was a wonderful man, well known and esteemed in the community. He had "only" a pre-war Masters (for which he wrote some exam answers in Latin) but the school conferred an honorary doctorate on him for his dedication over many years. Everyone, at school and in the community, referred to him as "Doctor" and rightly so but he never in my hearing referred to himself as "Doctor".
  16. Xspect

    Xspect Member non grata

    After many years of being called an orderly since I was a young strapping buck. I paid good money for my titles
    So please address me as Dr Minster Xspect Laird of Blackwood

  17. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Well...for an Abide U alumnus...an exception can be made...
    Xspect likes this.
  18. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Och! Laird O' Blackwood is't noo? D'ye wear the kilt? Play the pipes? Fish for salmon? Ye do? That's grand!
    But, Laird Dr. Xspect, please dinna forget your Louisiana heritage. I'll expect tae see ye le samedi prochain au fais-do-do. Aiyeeee! :)
    Xspect likes this.
  19. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    O tempora! O mores! WHY did universities ever discontinue that tradition? Or High Schools, for that matter.... :)
    MasterChief likes this.
  20. Mac Juli

    Mac Juli Well-Known Member

    Yeah, and something I use often enough at work is "Si tacuisses..." :)
    Johann likes this.

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