Each year, colleges and universities bestow honorary degrees to individuals that have achieved great success and/or made significant impacts in various fields. This elite group oft times includes celebrities, and 2014 has included the likes of Sean "Diddy" Combs, John Legend and Meryl Streep.
Now, some may question what exactly is an "honorary degree" and how is it used. In general, it is an academic degree that a school has waived the normal requirements, such as matriculation, residence, and the passing of exams to obtain. The recipient of an honorary degree may use it in the same manner as an actual degree, except in circumstances where formal academic background is required. Most recipients of honorary doctorates do not use the title of "doctor," though there is no rule against it. Honorees such as Maya Angelou and Billy Graham, for example, have used the title either before or after their names.
So in the spirit of this graduation season, let's take a look at a few who have been gifted with the honorary "doctor" title.
Meryl Streep receives honorary doctorate from Indiana University
In April 2014, Academy award-winning actress Meryl Streep added an honorary doctorate from Indiana University to her collection, which includes Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from Harvard and Yale and a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Princeton.
Sean 'Diddy' Combs receives honorary degree from Howard University
Music titan Sean "Diddy" Combs received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from his alma-mater Howard University in early May. Combs was the commencement speaker for Howard's graduation ceremony and the speech was live-streamed on the website of his music network, Revolt.
Jill Scott receives honorary doctorate from Temple University
On May 15, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter/actress Jill Scott was the commencement speaker at Temple University, where she was presented with an honorary degree by fellow honorary doctor and Temple alum Bill Cosby. Scott was bestowed with the honorary title "Doctor of Humane Letters."
John Legend receives honorary degree from University of Pennsylvania
On May 19, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter John Legend received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from his alma mater the University of Pennsylvania. Legend was the commencement speaker for the university's 258th ceremony.
Viola Davis receives honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School
On Friday May 23, Academy-award nominated actress Viola Davis received an honorary degree from her alma mater Juilliard. Davis was bestowed an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.