Earps awarded honorary degree from Loughborough University

Mary Earps wearing a red gown and cap. She is standing in a football goal holding a green football jersey with her name printed on

Lioness’ goalkeeper and Loughborough alumna Mary Earps has been awarded an honorary degree by the University.

Earps, who graduated with a BSc in Information Management and Business Studies in 2016, returned to campus to be formally recognised for her outstanding contributions not only to sport, but to the global recognition and celebration of female sporting excellence.

She made her senior football debut in 2010 aged 17 and following spells at Doncaster Rovers Belles, Birmingham City, Bristol City, and Reading in the FA Women’s Super League (WSL), she then moved to two-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winners VfL Wolfsburg in Germany.

Following a season on the continent, Earps transferred back to England and joined Manchester United in the WSL. She currently holds the number one spot at The Red Devils and has recorded over 80 appearances for the club.

After six years of playing competitive football, Earps made her full international debut in 2017 and became a regular in Sarina Wiegman’s side, including playing every minute of all six games as the Lionesses remarkably won the UEFA Women’s European Championships in 2022.

A year later, at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, Earps served as vice-captain for England and played in all of England’s seven matches, conceding just four goals.

England narrowly missed out on World Cup glory as they were defeated 1-0 by Spain in the final – a match in which Earps became the first England goalkeeper in ten years – either Men’s or Women’s – to save a penalty from open play by keeping out Jennifer Hermoso’s 68th minute strike.

She was named the best goalkeeper at the tournament and awarded the Golden Glove accolade.

Earps was also crowned The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper 2022 at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ – one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in world football – and made history at the Ballon D’or awards by finishing fifth in the Feminin Award, the highest ever ranking for a goalkeeper.

She was voted BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2023 and has been shortlisted for the 2023 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. The winner will be announced on December 19.

Earps is among the final three nominees for the Best Fifa Goalkeeper awards with the winner announced in January 2024.

“To be awarded an honorary doctorate is pretty incredible,” Earps said.  

“It’s even more special to come back to where I studied and gained a degree in 2016. Life at Loughborough back then was what I thought was manic, little did I know life was going to get a lot more manic later down the line!  

“It’s great to be part of the growth of women’s football. Many people have come before us and we’ve stood on their shoulders and benefited from that. Hopefully, future generations will equally benefit from what we’ve achieved in this time.  

“I know being here today is not something everyone gets to do and I’m thankful to be awarded this honorary degree for my contributions to sport.” 

Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University said: “Mary’s contribution to women’s football has been nothing short of extraordinary. She consistently performs brilliantly at the very highest level, inspiring both peers and future generations.

“Loughborough is an institution that is synonymous with sporting excellence and alumna such as Mary make us incredibly proud. We’re delighted to award Mary an honorary degree as we look forward to her achieving yet more greatness on the global stage.”

Earps was made a Doctor of the University at Loughborough’s winter graduation service on Thursday 14 December 2023.