Magna cum laude is an academic level of distinction used by educational institutions to signify an academic degree that was received "with great honor."
The guidelines by which each level of academic honors is achieved differs between academic institutions; however, every university or college outlines its expectations for each program. Although Latin honors are quite common in the United States, very few countries around the world use the Latin system.
Some universities use GPA as a standard for magna cum laude honors but then combine that metric with a percentage of the student's class rank. For example, a student who graduates magna cum laude from UCLA's engineering department must finish in the top 5 to 10% of the class after completing 90 credits. This means the GPA requirements for Latin honors change every academic year. For the 2016-2017 academic year, students at UCLA Engineering need a GPA of 3.802 to 3.884 to qualify as magna cum laude. During the 2005-2006 academic year, students needed a GPA of 3.728 to 3.834.
At Brown University, students receive just one Latin honor, magna cum laude, upon graduation. A student achieves the honor after earning a certain percentage of distinguished marks along with an "A" grade in a course. Brown University does not calculate GPA, and no more than 20% of a graduating class can earn magna cum laude honors.
The student's college record usually shows the honors earned upon graduating. The University of California-Berkeley states the honor level a student achieves appears on his permanent transcript. In general, Latin honors apply to undergraduate studies as opposed to graduate work. Latin honors normally occur separately from departmental distinctions, honors within a major and dean's lists.