What Is the Dean’s List? Typical Dean's List Requirements & Benefits

By Josephine Nesbit · March 12, 2024 · 7 minute read

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What Is the Dean’s List? Typical Dean's List Requirements & Benefits

The dean’s list is a list of undergraduate students recognized for outstanding academic achievement in a given semester, quarter, or year. Each college and university has different dean’s list requirements, but students who finish the term with a high grade point average (GPA) and are in the top percentile of their class for academic performance can earn a spot on the dean’s list.

Not only is having the dean’s list award on your transcript a remarkable personal achievement, but it could also make a big impact on grad school admissions and future employers.

Dean’s List Meaning

The dean’s list is a scholarly award for undergraduate students who achieved high scholastic standing during the academic year. The award is released after each semester, quarter, or academic year and is typically based on a student’s GPA. However, specific dean’s list requirements will vary by institution and can change each term.

Dean’s List Requirements

Dean’s list requirements vary by college and can change each term, but there are typical conditions that a student must meet. To meet basic dean’s list requirements, students must:

•   Meet the minimum GPA requirements set by the school.

•   Be in the top percentile of their class for academic achievement.

•   Be taking a minimum number of credit hours. Most schools require students to be enrolled full-time, but some schools may include part-time students in the dean’s list.

•   Have zero incompletes, no shows, or late grades.

What GPA Is Needed to Make the Dean’s List?

While schools may base eligibility for the dean’s list on the student’s GPA, the award is comparative rather than absolute. The award is only given to the top percentile of students rather than everyone who earns a certain GPA. This means that the required GPA can change each semester based on the academic performance of the student body.

Students can strive for a GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale and be taking a minimum of 12 credit hours, but this may be different depending on your school and your degree program. Check with your school to determine the minimum GPA requirement to make the dean’s list.

Recommended: How Much Does GPA Matter When Applying to College?

What Is the Benefit of Being on the Dean’s List?

Earning a spot on the dean’s list is one of the highest levels of recognition for academic achievement. Students who earn the award can enjoy a variety of benefits that can continue throughout their educational career and beyond.

Personal Achievement

Making it onto the dean’s list requires academic commitment and dedication. Being on the dean’s list means you’ve ranked in the top percentile amongst your peers, which will be noted on your school record and should be seen as a great personal achievement.


Having your name on the dean’s list, especially for multiple terms, is one way to help you stand out from the crowd. The dean’s list award is a testament to your academic success and has traditionally been looked upon favorably by the school’s administration as well as by other students.


Some schools recognize students who made it onto the dean’s list by posting students’ names on the school website and sometimes local publications. Outstanding academic performance can also help you build relationships with your professors, who may be able to write letters of recommendation and references later on.

Special Events

Because your GPA is ranked among the top of your class, you might receive invitations to special events. These are typically networking events with top company executives. Networking can allow you to form connections with other people in your field of study and open the door to possible employment opportunities.

Attract Prospective Employers

Some colleges may include your dean’s list award on your school transcript, and you can also attract potential employers by mentioning this award on your resume. However, employment website Indeed doesn’t recommend adding this achievement to your resume if you were only on the dean’s list for one or two semesters or inconsistently.

Even if you don’t include the dean’s list on your resume, prospective employers may still consider your GPA when making hiring decisions. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2022 Spring Update report, 43.5% of employers screen by GPA when making interviewing and hiring decisions.


While being on the dean’s list doesn’t guarantee any financial aid, a high GPA could make you eligible for merit scholarships. Merit-based scholarships typically use your GPA, test scores, leadership capabilities, and other factors to determine your eligibility.

Are There Any Student Loan Benefits When Getting on the Dean’s List?

There usually aren’t any financial perks for getting on the dean’s list with federal student loans or most private lenders. Some private lenders may offer a reward for a certain GPA, but most lenders typically only consider your GPA if it’s too low.

Your GPA could affect your eligibility for other types of financial aid, like scholarships and grants, though. You’re required to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to meet the basic eligibility criteria for certain types of financial aid. A higher GPA also makes it easier for you to receive more financial aid.

💡 Quick Tip: You can fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

What Other Academic Awards Can You Earn in College?

The dean’s list isn’t the only academic award that you can earn in college. There are several other awards that are given to students in recognition of outstanding achievement and as a means to further encourage academic excellence. Here are a few academic awards for college students.

The Honors List

The honors list is similar to the dean’s list; however, it may have different GPA requirements — usually lower. For example, students may be eligible for a spot on the dean’s list if their GPA is 3.5 or higher, while students on the honors list have a GPA between 3.25 and 3.5.

The President’s List

Undergraduate students earn the president’s list award if they get straight A’s in college and earn a 4.0 GPA. Part-time and full-time students may be eligible for this award.

The Chancellor’s List

At schools that offer this award, the chancellor’s list is typically ranked slightly higher than the dean’s list. Both full-time and part-time undergraduate students may usually qualify for the chancellor’s list.

Ways to Pay for College

If you’re aiming to see your name on the dean’s list, financial stress can hinder your ability to succeed academically. According to Inside Higher Ed, 48% of students who experienced financial challenges while in school admitted they had difficulties focusing on their academics.

Luckily, there are options out there for prospective and current students who are struggling with how to pay for college. Here are a few options:

•   Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to see if you qualify for financial aid. Make sure to read our FAFSA Guide and fill this out as soon as possible because many colleges award money on a first-come, first-served basis.

•   Search for scholarships, which are a form of merit aid to help pay for tuition and other education expenses. There are thousands of available scholarships to students with some even offering a full-ride to a four-year institution.

•   Apply for grants. Grants are another form of financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. Students can apply for federal, state, or school grants.

•   Find a work-study position. The federal work-study program offers funds for part-time employment to help college students in financial need.

•   Look at student loans. If you are still struggling to afford school-related expenses after exhausting all other forms of financial aid, there are a variety of federal and private student loan options to help.

Recommended: FAFSA 101: How to Complete the FAFSA

The Takeaway

Students who make the dean’s list are recognized for outstanding academic achievement. Benefits include personal achievement, prestige, public recognition, the opportunity to attend special events, being granted scholarships, and standing out on job applications.

And, students who are less stressed financially tend to do better in school. Options for paying for college include scholarships, grants, federal student loans, and private student loans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


What GPA is required to get on the dean’s list?

The minimum GPA for the dean’s list varies by school and it can change every term. However, most schools require at least a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

What does it mean when you get on the dean’s list?

What it means to be on the dean’s list is that you’ve ranked in the top percentile of your class. The dean’s list is one of the highest levels of recognition for scholarly achievement.

What is the benefit of being on the dean’s list?

Earning a spot on the dean’s list comes with several benefits. Not only is it a prestigious award and a significant personal achievement, but you could be invited to special events, network with others in your field of study, and attract prospective employers.

Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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