I am uncertain between the following two sentences:

1) I received my Ph.D. in (subject X) with summa cum laude.

2) I received my Ph.D. in (subject X) summa cum laude.

Which one is better? Or maybe they are both OK?

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    If you know Latin, cum means with. So with summa cum laude is literally, with with the highest praise. Should you worry about this? Probably that depends on whether the people you're trying to impress know Latin. Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 15:19

3 Answers 3


It depends how pedantic or accurate you want to get. Most dictionaries list "summa cum laude" and the other "cum laude" variants as both adjective and adverb. The phrase, from what I've seen is usually seen in the form "graduated summa cum laude", where here it is adverbial, modifying "graduated".

In your case you received a Ph.D in X, and want to add that you received the highest honour "summa cum laude" meaning, with highest praise/honour.

When I say it depends how pedantic you want to get, I mean you have a choice of analysing the Latin phrase and mixing it into the English so that it can stand as sort of a mixed phrase (macaronic language) that makes sense regarding the grammar of both. For example you can say that "and etc." is wrong because "etc." already includes "and" (et).

This question may receive the best answer on Academia Stack Exchange, but I can tell you my opinion.

If you want to avoid the choice of those two options due to uncertainty, you can rewrite it as:

I received my Ph.D. in X, graduating summa cum laude.


I graduated summa cum laude with a Ph.D. in X.

As we know "graduating summa cum laude" is correct, you can be sure that this is correct.

Otherwise, if you insist on writing it in one of the ways you have in your question, I can only offer you my opinion.

I received my Ph.D. in X with summa cum laude.

There are two reasons I think this version is not good.

1) The dictionaries list "summa cum laude" as both adjective and adverb. Do you know of any grammatical sentence that ends in "with [adj.]" or "with [adv.]" ? I can't think of any, but even if there are, I would think they are uncommon (though someone correct me if I'm wrong).

2) With "summa cum laude" already containing "with", it would seem redundant. That is, you'd be saying something like "with with highest honours."

So I advise against this.

The second one:

I received my Ph.D. in X summa cum laude.

It's rather easy to see "summa cum laude" functioning as an adverb here modifying the statement "I received my Ph.D. in X". So this sounds absolutely fine by me.


If this question aims at information presented in a CV (or similar brief documents), I suggest to avoid this situation by writing "Ph.D. in subject X (summa cum laude)" or "Ph.D. in subject X (grade: summa cum laude)".


2) I received my Ph.D. in (subject X) summa cum laude.

this one is better because the Latin summa cum laude means with so you dont really need another with in English.

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