Dean’s List: GPA Required, What You Get for Being On It

When it comes to academic awards at colleges and universities, making the Dean’s List is no small feat. Being recognized for hard work, academic achievement, and rigorous competitive standards is a tremendous way to distinguish yourself among your peers.

To make the Dean’s List, students generally need a GPA of 3.5 or higher, as well as at least 12 graded hours of coursework, depending on the school or term. To future employers, this recognition is an attractive resume point as it indicates dedication, focus, and exceptional scholarly distinction.

The requirements for making the Dean’s List depend largely on the school, but a student can successfully rise to the top of the department by focusing on the general rules and purposes of this award. In the long run, this award provides graduates with significant advantages in both academic and career environments.

What Is the Dean’s List?

The Dean’s List is a scholarly award that distinguishes students who have demonstrated academic excellence. This award is used most often in North America, though similar awards are distributed to high-achieving students in Europe, Asia, and Australia. In some places, honor rolls and honor lists are comparable awards, though they are not to be confused with honors degrees.

To make the Dean’s List, students meet a series of requirements as designated by the school. Though award cycles and requirements for getting on the Dean’s List vary by college or university—and even within the departments of a university—the award is given to a top percentage (usually the top 10% to 25%) of students who completed the most recent term with a high grade-point average (GPA).

Some schools issue the Dean’s List quarterly, while others issue it annually. Some GPA thresholds are wide, while others are extremely strict. Regardless, making the Dean’s List is a significant accomplishment, as it ranks students among the highest of their peers in levels of scholarship and achievement.

How to Make the Dean’s List

The requirements necessary to make the Dean’s List will vary with each school and can be subject to change based on how academically competitive a department proves to be during a given term. Hence, if the college or department is extremely competitive or logistically large, only students with a 3.9 or 4.0 GPA would make the Dean’s List. On the other hand, in a less competitive situation, students with a 3.5-3.8 GPA might make the list.

Typically, only full-time students are eligible for this award, as it not only recognizes academic achievement but also recognizes hard work, motivation, discipline, and perseverance. This is often the standard for universities, but some colleges include part-time students in the list as well.

Classes that are graded either pass or fail do not contribute to a student’s eligibility, as these courses do not count toward the final GPA calculation of a term. Importantly, even if a student earns the qualifying GPA, they will be disqualified for incomplete courses, late grades, or significant absences.

What Does the Dean Do?

In a university or college, a dean is responsible for administrating academic and financial matters. Deans also provide university and college departments with vision and leadership in an effort to promote excellence, service, and research.

The role of a dean will vary according to the structure and intentions of the university or college, but here is a general list of responsibilities that the dean attends to:

  • Create strategic plans for academic initiatives and business growth
  • Cultivate a positive environment for work and education
  • Advocate students’ interests and needs to school presidents and leaders
  • Lead in ongoing research and public engagement
  • Participate in program reviews and the implementation of newly designed programs
  • Represent the school to external audiences or constituencies
  • Mentor students and leaders within an academic program or a series of programs
  • Create hiring plans and ensure quality performance and meaningful involvement among faculty
  • Effectively manage the allocation of financial resources for the department or school
  • Develop and implement budget proposals and competitive salary strategies
  • Collaborate among academic units and cultures to ensure meaningful engagement of students and staff
  • Manage the use of facilities assigned to department or college for events and educational courses
  • Ensure adherence to university policies, procedures, and honor codes
  • Communicate with alumni, donors, and stakeholders in fundraising efforts and service projects
  • Collaborate with other academic leaders in interdisciplinary activities and other events
  • Promote positive representation of the school through the advancement of requirements, visions, and goals
  • Participate in the university board of deans and other activities, providing insight to the provost regarding school representation, faculty performance, and student experiences.

Benefits of Being on the Dean’s List

Earning a top position among the students of a university comes with prestigious benefits, especially when seeking to attract employers. It’s a step above simply having high grades; employers who see the Dean’s List award on an applicant’s resume can recognize that the applicant was among the top students of his or her university and that he or she is distinguished by a sense of hard work, self-discipline, academic ingenuity, and professionalism.

It is also worth noting this award on personal websites or a LinkedIn Profile, as it is a quick and simple way to set yourself apart from your peers.

For students seeking to continue their education, the Dean’s List award is an excellent way to impress graduate schools. It indicates that you have not only met the requirements for the graduate program application, but you are also personally dedicated to excellence and that you uphold a high standard of achievement.

This award will be listed on your transcript, so any subsequent university application reviewers will surely notice it.

If you have made the Dean’s List, you will typically be notified via email. Oftentimes, departments will hold award ceremonies or events in honor of students who have received these awards, among others. You may be invited to breakfast with the Dean and other members on the list, or to join an award ceremony banquet alongside scholarship and contest winners.

An underlying benefit of an accomplishment like making the Dean’s List is the affirmation that all of your efforts have paid off. You have been recognized for who you are and what you can accomplish, and that is certainly worth celebrating!