An honorary college degree is the highest academic honor someone can receive. Based on merit and hard work over the years, the honorary degree recognizes an individual's outstanding achievement and service to the community. Most colleges and universities have their own guidelines for awarding this prestigious academic honor. Generally speaking, though, they all require the recipient to contribute in an outstanding way to making the world a better place.

Give back to society if you want an honorary degree. Contribute significantly to humanitarian organizations that help the less fortunate. Donate your time, talents and money to public service related to your field of study. For example, participate in, lead and fund educational or community programs that insure that others reach their full potential.

Contribute to humanitarian organizations working in other countries. Share you professional knowledge and resources beyond the local community to find solutions to complex problems other countries face. Many colleges and universities honor those whose philanthropy is global.

Look at the big picture. Colleges and universities honor those who share their vision and live up to their institution's motto. Think of areas that could benefit from your ideals of service and think of ways that would stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Establish a continuing connection with your alma mater. Most people who receive honorary degrees are alumni of that institution. Show your gratitude to the college or university that made your success possible by giving generously to it. Give your time and professional expertise by helping students who face barriers to succeeding by tutoring, mentoring or coaching them.

Assemble a portfolio that highlights your achievements over the years. Include referrals, letters of recommendations and personal stories by those who benefited from your generosity. Many college or university committees base their decisions to award honorary degrees on personal portfolios.