An honor cord is a token consisting of twisted cords with tassels on either end awarded to members of honor societies or for various academic and non-academic achievements, awards, or honors. Usually, cords come in pairs with a knot in the middle to hold them together. Sometimes sashes, stoles, or medallions are given in place of cords. They are most often worn at academic ceremonies and functions. With cap and gown, and (sometimes) the hood, high school or university degree candidates have worn these cords at the discretion of the educational institution, but they are not usually worn with academic regalia after the academic year in which the honor was awarded. Unlike hoods and stoles, by tradition more than one cord may be worn at the same time.
At some universities, pairs of honor cords, in the school colors, indicate honors graduates: One pair = Cum Laude, Two Pair = Magna Cum Laude, Three Pair = Summa Cum Laude. These are in addition to any cords for membership in an honor society.
Honor cords Wikipedia
(Mostly taken from The Association of College Honor Societies)