academic degrees

As a general rule, do not list degrees after a person’s name with the exception of a medical degree, MD, or combined medical/doctoral degree, MD/PhD. In news releases that include faculty with an MD and faculty with a PhD, it is acceptable to also use PhD.

A person’s degrees may be mentioned later in the text with any biographical information. 

In stories that mention Washington University alumni, degrees earned at this university may be used after a person’s name in specific cases. An example: Mary Smith, AB ’01, MA ’03, was named an assistant professor of social work. Smith, who earned her doctorate from the University of Michigan in May 2015, will teach courses focused on educating children in urban schools.

Avoid using “Dr.” before a name. Use MD and MD/PhD with no periods. If a subject has both an MD and a PhD, list in order of degree earned or personal preference, if known.

People earn a degree they do not receive a degree — unless it is an honorary degree.

Write out the names of degrees when they are used apart from a person’s name and include the discipline each degree is in, when possible: Janet Jones earned a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in Islamic studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, NOT Janet Jones earned an MA in religious studies from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Lowercase the names of academic degrees: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, etc., unless you write: Jones earned a Bachelor of Science in religious studies from the University of Michigan.

In general, when academic degree abbreviations are used as in the following examples, do not include periods (for all other degrees, refer to the schools):

AB — bachelor of arts (Washington University style)
BFA — bachelor of fine arts
BS — bachelor of science
BSBA — bachelor of science of business administration
BSN — bachelor of science in nursing
DDS — doctor of dental surgery
DO — doctor of osteopathic medicine
DPM — doctor of podiatric medicine
DrPH — doctor of public health
DVM —  doctor of veterinary medicine
EMBA — executive master of business administration
JD — juris doctor
LLM — legum magister (master of laws)
PN — licensed practical nurse
MA — master of arts; although a master’s is usually sufficient
MAEd — master of education
MBA — master of business administration
MBBCh —(Equivalents: MBChB, MBBS, MB BS. Use recipient’s preference.)
MD — medical doctor
MPH — master of public health
MS —master of science; although a master’s is usually sufficient
MSW — master of social work
PhD — doctor of philosophy; use doctorate
RN — registered nurse
ScD — doctor of science

Avoid using academic degree abbreviations to refer to students: Master of business administration students staffed the job fair, NOT MBAs staffed the job fair.

When listing a series of degrees earned by one subject, list them in ascending order from lowest degree earned to highest.

See doctorate.

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