An ad eundem degree is a courtesy degree awarded by one university or college to an alumnus of another. The recipient of the ad eundem degree is often a faculty member at the institution where he or she is receiving the honor.
Before the advent of modern means of transportation had shrunk the world, it was common, when a graduate from one American college moved into the neighborhood of another, for the new college to admit the graduate as a courtesy, "at the same degree" (in Latin, ad eundem gradum). Thus if someone was a bachelor of arts in the college they had attended, they would likewise be a bachelor of arts in the eyes of their new local college. (Not every college extended this courtesy to all other colleges, however.)
The practice generally died out in the early 19th century. However, it continues at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and Trinity College, Dublin where the process is known as "incorporation". At several Ivy League universities, including Harvard, Yale, Brown and Penn, faculty appointed or promoted to the rank of associate professor or professor are awarded a master's degree (an AM at Harvard and Brown; an MA at Yale) if they do not already hold a degree from the respective university.
At Amherst College a similar custom is followed, with the granting of a master of Arts degree by the college to its faculty even though the college grants only a bachelor's degree (AB) to its own matriculated students. Dartmouth College and Wesleyan University confer an MA degree on faculty members promoted to full professor.It is an earned degree, not honorary, because it recognises formal learning. It is acceptable to list both the original degree(s) and the incorporated ("ad eundem") degree when listing post-nominals.
Rhodes University in South Africa uses the term "ad eundem gradum" to give a student status to undertake a research higher degree based on experience, as opposed to a formal qualification. In this case the student does not acquire a qualification, but is exempt from an entry requirement.
N.B.: this article uses "college" in its American sense. See college, §2, for details.
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“Every man beholds his human condition with a degree of melancholy. As a ship aground is battered by the waves, so man, imprisoned in mortal life, lies open to the mercy of coming events.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)