Degrees are titles conferred on individuals, usually by colleges or universities, in recognition of the completion of courses of study or other extensive academic achievement. Degrees vary in level and title, as well as the content they signify. Consequently, they differ among nations, and sometimes within countries. Occasionally, academic institutions also confer degrees honoris causa, or honorary degrees, on distinguished persons for nonacademic achievements, such as public service and contributions to general welfare. Usually, a document called a diploma, containing the institution's seal and the signatures of officers of the awarding institution, attests to the conferral of the degree.

Degrees based on academic achievement, or earned degrees, historically have required that candidates reside for extended periods at the site of instruction and comply with formal degree ...

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