People with “Honoris Causa” or Honorary Doctorate Degrees Should Not Add ‘Dr.’ in Front of Their Name?

Fatoumatta: An Honorary Degree is not earned. It is conferred at the discretion of the institution that awards it. There are no fixed criteria for such degrees. Honorary Doctorates have been awarded for many different reasons: contributions to knowledge, contributions to commerce, contributions to peace, contributions to popular culture, and even monetary donations to the awarding institution. There are levels of educational attainment that could be self-initiated. If your life’s goal is to get a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Harvard or MIT, procedures and criteria are set up for you or other students to attain this goal. The requirements are set high so that only a few in the population can achieve the goal.

On the other hand, academic honors are not self but rather other initiated. Your cumulative work or accomplishments are such that some educational institutions judge it deserves special mention or honor. You could not apply for such honor, and you would not be told if and when such honor would be bestowed on you. One does not “get” an honorary doctorate. Even if a person had done superb and innovative work, there is no guarantee some institution would offer such honor to you.

Fatoumatta: Honorary Degree recipients should not refer to themselves as “doctor,” nor should they use the title on business cards or correspondence. It indicates a fragile sense of low esteem. However, on the other hand, suppose you value such an appendage so much, which is generally considered available to those who have painstakingly earned it through the rigors of research and development of new knowledge. In that case, you should undertake to go through the same route. Otherwise, wear the only trouser you have, not the ones still on the hanger in the clothing shop.

Honorary degrees are awarded “Honoris Causa.” They would generally allow the holder to use the title in dealings with the granting university but not externally. They should also be listed on any CV as an award rather than an educational qualification. An academic Ph.D. is earned by study and academic work, usually performing original research, writing, and defending a dissertation on that work. You can generally then get a job, or at least work toward getting a job that requires a Ph.D.

Fatoumatta: An honorary Ph.D. is not a degree. It is more of a trophy you can put on a mantlepiece. They are awarded to people accomplished in some field that a university wants to honor. There is nothing much you can do with it. It does not qualify you for anything. However, it is an honor to receive one. So individuals who have acquired or been awarded “Honorary Degrees” without working hard should drop the titles, not feel good about academic fraud, and go back to school.

We have to bring an end to this academic fraud because it is now going to get different thoughts in our children that you do not need to work hard in academia, you do not need to go to school, but you can go and contact dishonest, corrupt, and bootlickers in low rated universities or the internet and pay US$5,000 or US$1,000 and be called a Dr. Somebody. I think those who hold those doctorates must feel ashamed of themselves. Some hold PhDs, and they have had to spend something like ten years in university to get a Ph.D.; how are they feeling knowing someone can go and pay, go for a degree and be conferred with a degree in a hotel room, or in at presidential villas or commencement ceremonies? This is so sad: And I think for anybody who is being called a Doctor but did not work for it, let them hear me, feel shame, drop the title of doctor, and go back to school and work hard for it.

Fatoumatta: Former President Barack Obama was given an honorary doctorate, but he does not call himself ‘Dr.,’ And that is how it should be. Former President Nelson Mandela, President Robert Mugabe, President Thabo Mbeki, President Macky Sall, President Jacob Zuma, and President Adama Barrow have honorary degrees and many honorary doctorates. Still, they do not call themselves ‘Dr.’ By convention, recipients of honorary doctorates do not use the title “Dr. “A friend of mine has been awarded an honorary doctorate. However, unfortunately, he insists we all refer to him as Dr. when we mention his name.

This may surprise those who have earned a doctorate through conventional means but cannot read or write. His expertise is art. He is a painter. His paintings are so unbelievably good that you would say they are photographs. He is not academically inclined, but he can do something that not one of those with a conventional doctorate can do. He is a one-off in his field. I believe that someone who has a doctorate, but not an honorary one, is only one of the millions worldwide who have studied to get where they are. Let us face it, and anyone can do what they do every day.

Fatoumatta: While an honorary degree is prestigious, it is not typically something that would be included on a resume. Honorary degrees are not earned or awarded based on academic achievement, so they would not be relevant to most jobs. However, if the honorary degree is relevant to the job you are applying for, or if it is something that would be impressive to potential employers, you could not use the prefix of Dr. it on your business card.

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