Posthumous Degrees and Certificates of Achievement Policy

Month/Year Posted: 
November, 2017
Policy Number: 

The following policy outlines criteria and processes for awarding a Posthumous Degree or Certificate of Achievement.

Purpose of the Policy

In providing compassionate interaction with the family and friends of a student who died while enrolled at Humboldt State University, we maintain a posthumous degree policy.  We understand that the award of a Posthumous Degree or Certificate of Achievement may help bring closure in the event of such a loss.  Such awards recognize a student’s engagement in higher education and, under different circumstances, what would have been a likely achievement. The award honors a student’s commitment to their higher education.


For a deceased student to qualify for a Posthumous Degree, they must have achieved senior standing when they last attended courses at HSU, successfully completed more than half their major coursework, have been in good academic standing and enrolled at HSU within the past three semesters.

 A student who does not qualify for a Posthumous Degree may be awarded a Certificate of Achievement if they were in good standing and enrolled at HSU within the past three semesters before their death.  

 The Provost or designee may grant a Posthumous Degree or a Certificate of Achievement for a student who has completed less coursework than indicated above.  Academic excellence in completed coursework, leadership and/or service to the university and their community may be considered in making the decision.


The process for awarding a Posthumous Degree or Certificate of Achievement is initiated with a letter from the major program faculty to the Provost.  The faculty will identify the student and request the action.  Letters from other constituents (e.g., family) requesting a Posthumous Degree or Certificate of Achievement will be directed to the academic program faculty for consideration and further recommendation to the Provost.  The Provost or their designee will review requests from the major programs and make a determination.

In the case of a student who does not have a major or other circumstance that makes it difficult for the program faculty to initiate the process, the Provost may determine that the situation warrants a Certificate of Achievement and issue one independently.

The Provost or designee will communicate with the family to determine the optimal manner in which to confer the Posthumous Degree or Certificate of Achievement (e.g., in person, at commencement, by mail).


All changes must be listed chronologically in the format below, including all edits and reviews. Note when the policy name or number changes.  Note if an edit or revision date is exclusively for the policy section or the procedure section:

 Issued:  11/17/2017 (supersedes VPAA 11-06 Policy for Awarding Certificates of Achievement and Posthumous Degrees)

Revised:  10/14/2011 (VPAA 11-06)