Honorary Doctorates Should not use title of Doctor, Says Academic

Honorary Doctorates Should not use title of Doctor, Says Academic

In a Facebook post, Preston Kalimamukwento, an academic with a Ph.D., has sought to clarify the distinction between regular doctorate degrees and honorary doctorates, following the recent award of an honorary doctorate to President Hakainde Hichilema by Heriot-Watt University.

Kalimamukwento explained that doctorate degrees, such as his own Ph.D., represent scholarly achievements, specialized knowledge, and the advancement of a particular field. In contrast, honorary doctorates are awarded to celebrate exceptional contributions to society, without carrying the same formal academic qualifications.

“Honorary doctorates are purely titular degrees,” Kalimamukwento wrote. “They confer no rights on the recipient and carry no formal academic qualification.” He added that recipients of honorary doctorates are not expected to use the title “doctor,” unlike those who have earned a Ph.D. or other terminal degree.

“As such, it is always expected that such degrees be listed in one’s curriculum vitae (CV) as an award, and not in the education section. Recipients of an honorary doctorate do not normally adopt the title of “doctor.” In many countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, it is not usual for an honorary doctor to use the formal title of “doctor,” regardless of the background circumstances for the award,” he stated.

Commenting further, Kalimamukwento emphasized the difference between his own academic credentials and the honorary degree received by President Hichilema and former Zambian presidents. “I have an academic PhD, not an honorary doctorate, which is different,” he said. “I can teach in my field and practice, but the president and the former president can’t.”

The distinction between earned doctorates and honorary degrees is an important one, Kalimamukwento concluded, as it helps to maintain the integrity of academic achievements and the proper use of titles. He urged Zambians to understand the difference between these two types of doctoral awards.


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