Honorary awards

Recognising inspiring people in the University's community
The University of Sydney recognises exceptional individual achievement by conferring an honorary higher doctorate (honorary degree), and outstanding service to the University by awarding the title of Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney (Honorary Fellow).
  • 19 June 2024: Honorary Award nominations open
  • 31 July 2024: Honorary Award nominations close
  • October 2024: Honorary Award nominations considered by Honorary Awards Committee
  • December 2024: Honorary Award nominations considered by University Senate
  • December 2024/January 2025: Recipients and nominators notified

The University of Sydney may confer two honours in recognition of outstanding achievements, contributions, or service:

  • an honorary higher doctorate (honorary degree); or
  • the title, Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney (Honorary Fellow).

An honorary degree may be awarded in recognition of the recipient’s outstanding achievement in their field, or outstanding contributions to society or the mission, values and aspirations of the University.

The following degrees may be awarded honorarily:

I. Doctor of Business
II. Doctor of Engineering
III. Doctor of Laws
IV. Doctor of Letters
V. Doctor of Medicine
VI. Doctor of Health Sciences
VII. Doctor of Dentistry
VIII. Doctor of Nursing
IX. Doctor of Music
X. Doctor of Science
XI. Doctor of Architecture
XII. Doctor of the University

The title of Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney is awarded for conspicuous continued dedication and involvement in enhancing the standing of the University and its impact upon the community. This includes supporting the interests and welfare of the University, promoting its academic purposes, fostering national and international links, enlarging educational access, and supporting its growth and diversification.

Both awards represent the highest level of recognition from the University, acknowledging either outstanding achievements or exceptional service.

Please refer to the Selection of Candidates for Honorary Awards Policy for further information.

Prior to submitting your nomination, please review the information for each category to determine the most relevant award for your nominee and prepare supporting evidence accordingly.

If after reviewing this information you still aren’t sure which award category suits your nominee, please contact the University Governance Office for clarity prior to submitting your official nomination. 

Honorary Degrees are awarded in recognition of exceptional achievement.  The criteria for selection for the award of an honorary degree may include one or more of the following:

  • Academic excellence: Outstanding performance and/ or achievement in education or research.
  • Creative achievement: Remarkable accomplishments in artistic or innovative endeavours.
  • Community impact: An outstanding contribution beyond the expectations of the person’s particular field of endeavour which has influenced the thinking or general well-being of the wider community.
  • Civic leadership: An outstanding contribution to the advancement of society in New South Wales, Australia or overseas. (for civic office holders only)

The Doctor of the University may be awarded to a person for exceptional service or contributions to the achievement of the mission, values and aspiration of the University, significantly enhancing the reputation and standing of the University at a national and international level.

Past Honorary Degree recipients

You can read about some of our exceptional award recipients below to inspire your nomination for an honorary degree.

  • The Honourable Annabelle Bennett AC SC, awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) in recognition of her exceptional achievements as a lawyer, in the fields of business and education and for her outstanding contribution to the wider community.
  • The Honourable Bob Hawke AC CGL, awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) for civic leadership.
  • Dr Kiran Martin, awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the interests and welfare of the people of India and for her leadership in civil society.
  • George Miller AO, awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) for creative achievement and for his contributions to the silver screen in Australia and worldwide.
  • The Hon Jillian Skinner, awarded the degree of Doctor of Health Sciences (honoris causa) for her services to health, medical research, and politics in Australia.

Recipients to be awarded the title of Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney will be selected based on conspicuous continued involvement in one or more of the following:

  •  Supporting the University: Support of the interests and welfare of the University or of a particular part of the University’s activities.
  • Promoting academic goals: Promotion of the academic purposes of the University or of facilitating those purposes in any particular activity of the University.
  • Building connections: Fostering the links between the University and other institutions within and outside Australia.
  • Expanding access: Enlarging educational opportunities to enter the University among individuals with limited prospects of so doing for reasons which they could not overcome.
  • Resourcing growth: Representation of the University’s needs for resources for its growth and diversification, and supply of such resources.

Past Honorary Fellow recipients

You can read about some of our exceptional award recipients below to inspire your nomination for an honorary degree.

  • Dr Matthew Hall, awarded the title of Honorary Fellow in recognition of his substantial contributions to The University of Sydney’s interests and welfare over many years.
  • John Leece AM, awarded the title of Honorary Fellow for his contribution to the interest and welfare of the University of Sydney.
  • Dr Katherine Rae, awarded the title of Honorary Fellow for her service to the University in sports medicine.
  • Associate Professor Ross Steele AM , awarded the title of Honorary Fellow for outstanding contribution to the study of French culture, the teaching of the French language and applied linguistics, as well as being a generous philanthropist.

How to nominate

Completed nominations should be submitted no later than COB 31 July 2024 for consideration for award in 2025. 

Submit your nomination by filling out the confidential nomination form.

In making the case for an award, please outline the nominee's achievements and how they align with the relevant criteria. To effectively highlight the nominee’s skills and contributions, please use specific examples to highlight their impact and emphasise the positive outcomes or changes brought about by the nominee. Please note there is a 1500-word count limit for supporting evidence.

Please also supply the names and details of at least two additional referees who were consulted in-confidence for this nomination.

All submissions should be submitted online, simply click on the Nominate button on this page.

If you have any enquiries regarding the process or experience issues submitting an online nomination form please contact the University Governance Office at honorary.awards@sydney.edu.au

To be eligible to make a nomination for award you must be one or more of the following:

  • A current or former Fellow of Senate
  • A current student at the University of Sydney
  • A current staff member of the University of Sydney
  • A principal of the residential colleges
  • A graduate of the University of Sydney

For more information on those eligible to submit nominations, and those eligible to be nominated, please review the University’s Selection of Candidates for Honorary Awards Policy.

Please note:

  • Fellows of Senate or members of staff of the University are not eligible for the award of an honorary fellowship whilst in office
  • Former Fellows of Senate or former members of staff will not normally be eligible for nomination for an honorary fellowship within two years of their retirement from the relevant office.