The Catholic University of America

 Conferral of Degrees In Memoriam

Revised March 16, 2016 

The academic dean of a school within the University may request that the Academic Senate vote to authorize the conferral of a degree In Memoriam 

The designation In Memoriam refers to a category of degree conferral which reflects that the student in question was well advanced toward completion of a particular degree program, but died before completing the requirements for the degree, and that the University is acting in this way as a compassionate gesture toward the bereaved and in the memory of the deceased. 


The dean of the school in question initiates the conferral of a degree In Memoriam, after consultation with the president, provost, and registrar of the University, and having provided them with information about the student’s standing within a degree program and circumstances of the student’s death.   The dean should ordinarily do so only after also discerning the wishes of the deceased student’s family (if any) and/or acquaintances.  

The dean may initiate a degree conferral In Memoriam only in situations where the student in question 1) was a student in good standing with the University, 2) at the time of death, met the standard of “continuous enrollment” as defined in the official policy of the University at the time the conferral is initiated, and 3) was substantially well advanced toward completion of the degree.  “Substantially well advanced” ordinarily means: in the case of an undergraduate or master’s program student, having completed at least three-quarters of the credit hours needed for the degree; in the case of a doctoral student, after approval of dissertation topic, having made substantive progress toward completion of the dissertation; in the cases of students in other programs, having advanced to comparable stages in the course of the degree’s program. 

The dean submits a motion to the Academic Senate, proposing that the University confer upon the deceased student the degree for which the student was studying, with the request that the conferral be In Memoriam.  If the Academic Senate approves, the student’s name is included in the next subsequent degree list approved by the Senate. 

The academic transcript, diploma, commencement program, and any other record of the degree’s conferral will include the notation that the degree was given In Memoriam.  

The dean is responsible for conveying the diploma and any accompanying messages of condolence from the University to the next of kin of the deceased student.