academic degrees

If mention of degrees is necessary to establish someone’s credentials, the preferred form is to avoid an abbreviation and use instead a phrase such as Sally Ray, who has a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate in English.

  • Use an apostrophe in bachelor’s, master’s.
  • Use such abbreviations as BA, MA and PhD only when the need to identify many individuals by degree on first reference would make the preferred form cumbersome.
  • The exception: When identifying MU alumni in a profile or story about them, use this form, set off by commas, after the person’s name: Bill Doe, BS ’95, and Sally Ray, MA ’04. When they have multiple degrees from different years, use this form: Sally Ray, BS ’78, MS ’81. For multiple degrees in the same year, use this form: Bill Doe, BA, BJ ’92.
  • When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas: Bill Doe, PhD, spoke to the class.
  • Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow the name with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference, as in Dr. Bill Doe, MD.
  • Do not capitalize degrees unless abbreviated: Bill Doe, MA ’95, serves as president of his local Optimist Club or Bill Doe received a master’s degree in journalism from XYZ College.
  • See degree abbreviations.

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