The VU’s master of medicine has abolished cum laude to reduce performance pressure. To what extent do students experience this performance pressure? What do you have to do to achieve cum laude? And should the UvA abolish cum laude as well?
There are no legal rules about when you graduate cum laude. Even at the UvA, there is no one single guideline. Each faculty has its own rules which sometimes even differ for bachelor's and master's degrees.
Cum laude, literally translated “with honors”, is a designation that students can receive on their diploma if they have performed particularly well. About 10 percent of Dutch students achieve such a good score that they receive such a commendation on their diploma. Some studies even have a designation of "summa cum laude" for students who score an average of 8.5 or 9.
A range of different rules
For example, a Humanities student must achieve a weighted average of 8.1 for his bachelor's degree and an 8 for his thesis, while the same student must score at least 8.5 twice in the master's degree.
A bachelor student of Economics & Business Administration must also score at least an 8.0 average but may not have retaken any exams. In addition, he must have studied at a standard level. A master's student can also graduate cum laude with an 8 average but may not have scored below 7.
At the science faculty, a grade average of 8 also applies with a lower limit of 7. In addition, a student may have a maximum of 6 months off their nominal study duration and may retake exams a maximum of three times.
At the law school, on the other hand, no resits are allowed, but you may take a one-year break. In addition, 7 is the lowest grade permissible and your weighted average must be an 8.
At most Dutch universities the faculties determine these rules, so there are differences between them. Eindhoven University of Technology decided in 2007 to harmonise all cum laude regulations.