Capitalization of Academic Degrees

Perhaps you’ve wondered if and when academic degrees (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) should be capitalized.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) recommends writing academic degrees in lower case except when directly preceding or following a name.

Orlando is pursuing a bachelor of science in civil engineering.
He introduced Jennifer Miller, Master of Fine Arts.
He introduced Master of Fine Arts Jennifer Miller.

The Associated Press Stylebook (AP) recommends no capitals when referring to degrees in general terms (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, associate degree) but always capitalizing specific degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science), whether or not they directly precede or follow a name.

Orlando is thinking about getting a Bachelor of Science degree.
Orlando is thinking about getting a master’s degree.
He introduced Orlando Cruz, Bachelor of Science.

Our recommendation is to pick your resource and then be consistent.

There is agreement, however, that abbreviations of academic degrees are to be capitalized. CMOS recommends omitting periods unless required for tradition or consistency (BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD), but AP prefers retaining the periods (B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., Ph.D.).


Pop Quiz

  1. The keynote speaker tonight will be Juris Doctor/juris doctor Michael Abercrombie.
  2. The textbook was authored by Azizah Bakar, Master of Science/master of science.
  3. Eleanor is finally reaching the end of her studies for her Doctorate in History/doctorate in history.
  4. After studying hard for so many years, I definitely feel that I’ve earned my MS/M.S. in biology.


Pop Quiz Answers

  1. Juris Doctor
  2. Master of Science
  3. doctorate in history
  4. MS OR M.S.

Please note: This original post has been updated and replaced by a new version of Capitalization of Academic Degrees.

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205 Comments on Capitalization of Academic Degrees

205 responses to “Capitalization of Academic Degrees”

  1. Jennifer Knight-Johnson says:

    Can you write MA, MPH, PH.D. at the top of your resume?

    • There are many different styles of résumés, with no one “right way” to do it. However, we recommend you follow either CMOS style without periods (MA, MPH, PhD) or AP style (M.A., M.P.H., Ph.D.) and be consistent.

  2. Caralee says:

    How do you write BA with distinction or with honors/honours vs cum laude? What do you capitalize/italicize? Distinction? Honors?

  3. Rob says:

    You offer “He introduced Jennifer Miller, Master of Fine Arts.” as an example of correct capitalization according to the CMOS. But as far as I can tell, the CMOS only recommends capitalizing job titles, degrees, military ranks, etc. in a sentence when the title precedes the name (e.g., President Jones; Master of Fine Arts Jennifer Miller). If I understand correctly, “Jennifer Miller, Master of Fine Arts” would only ever be correct if it was being used formally, e.g., in a signature, on a diploma, or on an event program where Jennifer is listed as a speaker. Can you provide some clarification?

  4. CRM says:

    What about “She graduated with an honors degree”? Should it be “She graduated with an Honors degree”?

  5. Julia says:

    I am writing a cover letter for a job application. “I recently received my Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with a concentration in Globalization and Sustainable Development and a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies” Please let me know the correct way to write this specifically for a cover letter. Thank you!

    • As the post states, our recommendation is to pick your resource and then be consistent. The following are acceptable:
      “I recently received my bachelor of arts in global studies with a concentration in globalization and sustainable development and a minor in environmental and sustainability studies.” OR
      “I recently received my Bachelor of Arts in global studies with a concentration in globalization and sustainable development and a minor in environmental and sustainability studies.”

  6. Ralph S Poore says:

    I see both of the following and would like to know which is correct: “Associate’s Degree” vs. “Associate Degree” and “Bachelor’s Degree” vs. “Bachelor Degree.”


  7. Mouna says:

    Thanks this is very helpful. I’m a master student first year, specialized in applied linguistics. Is the last sentence correct concerning capitalisation.

  8. JL says:

    I quickly scanned the long list of questions and perhaps missed the answer to this question: If I list diploma and degrees in a questionnaire, do I capitalize them or not?

    High School Diploma vs High school diploma va High School diploma

    Associate’s Degree vs Associate’s degree

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    • We recommend no capitalization when referring to degrees, diplomas, and the like when referred to generically. However, preparing resumés or answering questionnaires can fall outside guidelines for formal writing and become a matter of personal preference.

  9. Emmy says:

    I saw this mentioned in another comment, but I am still confused. If I want to list board certification for a medical specialty should it be lower case? Specifically, I would like to use it in a cover letter and will write it in a sentence (I am board certified in neurology and pediatric neurology). From what I understand, it should be lower case in this setting, but I am wondering if the reader may consider it to be a title and think it should be capitalized.

    board certified in neurology and pediatric neurology
    board certified in Neurology and Pediatric Neurology
    Board Certified in Neurology and Pediatric Neurology

  10. Afshin Danesh says:

    Which one is correct?
    Dr. Ross or Dr Ross
    The abbreviation of Doctor is with period or w/o ?

  11. Kasia says:

    I need your help, please! In my bio section of my website I wrote this….

    “…she moved back to New Jersey and received her master’s in fine arts at Montclair State University….”

    I feel like this is incorrect. Please advice…..or advise? Oh man! Not another one!

  12. Yvonne says:

    Which is the preferred punctuation for these titles?

    M.D., MACP
    MD, MACP
    M.D., M.A.C.P.

    • There is no definitive answer to your question.
      The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Use no periods with abbreviations that appear in full capitals, whether two letters or more and even if lowercase letters appear within the abbreviation.” Examples include MD and PhD.
      However, the Associated Press Stylebook says:
      Use periods in most two-letter abbreviations: U.S., U.N., U.K., B.A., B.C.
      Use all caps, but no periods, in longer abbreviations when the individual letters are pronounced: ABC, CIA, FBI
      In cases like these, we recommend choosing your method and staying consistent.

  13. Tania M says:

    Is the below correct??

    Lee graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 2005 with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and a commission in the U.S. Army. An active member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity since 2006, he also earned a master’s degree in management in 2009.

  14. Mrduck says:

    If I am talking about a fellow associate (Should associate be capitalized?).

  15. Kat says:

    I have a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. While earning my degree, and for many years after graduating, the A.P. Stylebook was considered the only source of style for journalists. I realize there are now other sources, and that these sources occasionally conflict with each other, so I have a question in reference to an earlier post. Isn’t it redundant to use both a title and degree: “Dr. John Doe, Ph.D” or “Dr. Bill Smith, M.D”?

    Thank you very much, and I’m delighted to have discovered your website!

    • The Chicago Manual of Style is in agreement that social titles are to be omitted when an academic degree or professional designation follows the name.

      We too are delighted that you have discovered our website.

  16. Claire says:

    Is this correct?

    He earned bachelor of arts degree from ABC University with majors in Math and French. (It is a double-major, not double degree).

    • We recommend adding the article a before the term bachelor of arts degree. Majors do not require capitalization unless they are themselves a proper noun.
      He earned a bachelor of arts degree from ABC University with majors in math and French.

  17. DEJ says:

    Is it correct to say, associate degree or associate’s degree; or Associate degree or Associate’s degree. I know it is not associates degree or Associates degree. Also, I never use the apostrophe in associate and I am being told I am not correct, nor do I capitalized “associate” unless I write the complete title of the degree such as…Associate of Arts in Business Administration. What is correct way to write associate degree? Thanks!

    • The Chicago Manual of Style finds either “associate degree” or “associate’s degree” to be reasonable and logical, while The Associated Press Stylebook prefers “associate degree.” Educational institutions are inconsistent regarding this term and both are widely used. We recommend that you simply be consistent once you decide on one or the other. When used generically, there is no need to capitalize.

  18. Christopher Fuentes says:

    When is it correct to use “degree” after the proper name? For instance, “John earned his Master of Science in 1975” or “…earned a Master of Science degree…?” AP’s rule seems to infer that no “degree” is needed with the proper name since it is a noun and not an adjective. Is that correct?

  19. Gaylene Hinkle says:

    So for a business card or name plate in ALL CAPS

    Which is correct?


  20. Maria Tan says:

    Which is the correct way of writing the degree on an approval sheet (a page on a thesis book)?

    Master of Arts in Theology, major in Pastoral Ministry or Master of Arts in Theology, Major in Pastoral Ministry

    whether to write the word Major (with capital M) or major (lower case m).


  21. Travis says:

    So just to confirm, the following is correct:

    bachelor’s degree in business administration

    • If you are following the rules of the Chicago Manual of Style, and the academic degree does not directly precede or follow a name, it is generally correct. Example: I am working on my bachelor’s degree in business administration.

      As the post indicates, there are exceptions. Degrees are often capitalized on business cards, on diplomas, in promotional material, or when displayed in a directory or resume. If you are following the rules of the Associated Press Stylebook, the degree is capitalized.

  22. pete says:

    Writing a thank you to an alumni.
    How do I reference liberal arts education?
    Is it ” a Liberal Arts education” or ” a liberal arts education”?

  23. Alex says:

    Is that correct if I say
    I am going to study in Architectural Technology program.

    Thank you for your time

  24. Kelsey Blanc says:

    So, would saying:

    “I am a senior in the department of communications with a concentration in journalism and citizens media” be correct? or would Department of Communications be written as such?


  25. Alessandra says:

    I would like to ask if this sentence is correct: “I am a registered nurse and a registered professional teacher major in bioscience.” Should I capitalize registered nurse and registered professional teacher? Thank you.

    • Lowercase is fine. We recommend that you rewrite your sentence to read “with a major in bioscience.” Also, in American English we usually say “certified teacher” rather than “registered teacher.”

  26. Sommer says:

    If I am writing content for a website and I want to say “Hunter College offers two Master’s programs: a MA in Psychology and a MA in Animal Behavior and Conservation (ABC).”
    Is “Hunter College offers two Master’s programs”correct? Master’s does precede the title of two degrees.

    • The word master’s is an adjective describing the noun programs. It does not need to be capitalized. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends lowercase for the specific program names. Either omit the article or use the article an before MA.
      “Hunter College offers two master’s programs: MA in psychology and MA in animal behavior and conservation (ABC).” OR
      “Hunter College offers two master’s programs: an MA in psychology and an MA in animal behavior and conservation (ABC).”

  27. Dimitar says:

    What is the right way to write your qualification in a CV?

    Bachelor in Computer Science
    B.Sc of Computer Science
    B.S of Computer Science
    Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science?
    Thank you.

    • There may not be one “right way” to do it. The Chicago Manual of Style advises “Capitalize degrees on business cards, on diplomas, or when displayed in a directory or résumé [CV].” We prefer to minimize capitalization. Bachelor of Science in computer science or bachelor of science in computer science are options.

  28. A says:

    Can I say: I am officially a Bachelorette in dental surgery?

  29. Karley Abner says:

    What would I put in my Journalism article:

    … and then will continue with the Accelerated Master’s Program for social work…
    … and then will continue with the accelerated master’s program for social work…

  30. Nicole says:

    Can you tell me if the following sentence below follows the Associated Press Stylebook guidelines? Thanks!

    Scott holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University.

    • AP Stylebook does not capitalize the terms “master’s degree” or “bachelor’s degree.” AP spells academic departments and programs in lowercase except for words that are proper nouns or adjectives or when the department name is part of the official and formal name preceded by the university or college. Therefore, write “Scott holds a master’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from the George Washington University.”

  31. Raquel says:

    I visit your site frequently and always find helpful advice to guide me when producing and editing documents for work in the higher education sector and in my postgraduate studies. Thanks so much!

  32. melanie says:

    Which of the following is correct?
    I am a member of the girls’ basketball team.
    I am a member of the girl’s basketball team.

  33. Ayesha says:

    Is the following correct?

    #1) “Lisa holds a bachelor in computer science degree and a MBA.”
    #2) Is it correct to write “John holds a MBBS degree…” or does the abbreviation need to be written out?

    Please let me know, thanks.

    • In your first sentence we would write “… and an MBA.” In your second sentence we would write “John holds an MBBS degree …” We assume the abbreviations would be spoken as written; otherwise you’d be better off writing them out.

  34. Sara says:

    What is this correct? In 2011, she graduated with a bachelor degree in clinical exercise physiology. In 2014, she graduated from The University of Mississippi Medical Center with a master of occupational therapy?

    Should it be bachelor’s degree in clinical exercise physiology instead?
    Should it be Master of Occupational Therapy?

    Just curious about the capitalization and the apostrophes with the degrees?

    • In 2011, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in clinical exercise physiology.
      In 2014, she graduated from the University of Mississippi Medical Center with a master’s in occupational therapy.

  35. Amy Morgan says:

    I just received a Master’s of Science in Counseling: Applied Behavioral Science degree. Even my university couldn’t tell me if I should use MS or MSC or something else to identify my credentials. Can you tell me what I should use, and how it should look after my name? Th anks!

    • The style manuals do not offer any specific recommendations for the abbreviation of your credentials. In addition, the style guides do not agree on how to form abbreviations for degrees. The Associated Press Stylebook uses periods, and The Chicago Manual of Style does not recommend the use of periods in the abbreviation.

      • rosalyn says:

        I am have a similar issue. I obtained my bachelor’s of arts in applied behavioral science and I have no clue how to list this on a signature line following my name also how is it listed on a resumé. Presently I have it listed on my resumé as:
        Bachelors of Art in Applied Behavioral Science-September 2013
        Is this correct?
        Also is this how it would be written as a title
        NAME,BA,Applied Behavioral Science

        • Since there is no agreement among the leading style manuals, we recommend being consistent in your use of capitalization when writing your degree. The Associated Press Stylebook recommends capitalizing a degree specialty on a resume only if it’s a proper noun (Bachelor of Arts in applied behavioral science, Bachelor of Arts in English). The Chicago Manual of Style recommends capitalizing degrees on business cards, on diplomas, or when displayed in a directory or resume, but placing them in lowercase in running text. Therefore, you may write “Bachelor of Arts (or BA or B.A.), Applied Behavioral Science” on your resume, business cards, or signature block if you wish. However, in generic, running text we recommend lowercase; for example, “I received my bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science in 2013.”

  36. Terrance Keller says:

    In earlier posts I read that both the following were correct.

    He has a B.A. in Criminal History.
    She earned her BS in history.

    Why is one upper case and the other lower.

    My particular situation applies to a translation I’m doing where the person holds a B.A. in visual and media arts, which I have left in lower case because in my view it is not part of the title. This would be different if it were Bachelor of Fine Arts. What is your thinking on this?

  37. Diane says:

    Do I capitalize nursing in the following sentences:

    I intend to major in nursing.
    I have chosen nursing as a major.

  38. Corbin says:

    This has been very helpful! Perhaps you can help me understand how to properly punctuate the credentials for a board-certified physician assistant. Would the correct punctuation be:

    CMOS Style –> PA-C
    AP Style –> P.A.-C

    • Yes, that is correct. The Chicago Manual of Style advises against the use of periods with abbreviations that appear in full capitals and AP Stylebook recommends using periods in most two-letter abbreviations.

  39. Tifa says:

    How about the capitalization of Degrees and Name in plaque??

    Should I capitalize all of the name including the degrees??

    Thanks in advance for your help??

    • The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Display items like plaques support a number of treatments, none of which is the only correct choice. You should make your decision and strive for consistency within the plaque.”

  40. Melissa Bailey says:

    LOVE this page! Thanks so much for providing this reference.

    I am working on job descriptions, and we start out the Education section with something like this:
    “Bachelor degree/Technical School”

    Should I use “Bachelor’s” instead?
    Also, should the words “Technical School” be capitalized or should they be lower-case?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Thank you for the compliment. The Associated Press Stylebook recommends bachelor’s degree. Since the terms bachelor’s degree and technical school are not part of a name or a list, they do not need to be capitalized; however, such terms are often capitalized in institutional settings, especially in promotional materials.

  41. April says:

    Is there any usage of associate’s degree or associates degree that is correct or are these just a frequent errors people make?

    • The Chicago Manual of Style recommends either “associate degree” or “associate’s degree.” Educational institutions are inconsistent regarding this term and both are widely used.

  42. Amy Rittenhouse says:

    I am still a little confused on capitalization. Would this grammar be correct? I am not sure if subject matter should be capitalized or not.
    Ms. Rittenhouse holds a bachelor of science degree in Environmental and Natural Resources Policy Studies from Michigan State University and a master of public administration degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas-Austin.

    • We recommend not capitalizing “environmental and natural resources policy studies.”

      • Nissa says:

        What if you are writing to say “Graduated with Honors in Litigation.” Or is it better to write “Graduate Cum laude with a concentration in litigation? Even though cun laude can not be italicized.

        • Because it is a Latin phrase, cum laude should appear in italicized lowercase letters. Therefore, if you cannot italicize cum laude, it might be better to write “graduated with honors in litigation.”

          • Caralee says:

            Why could she write: “…graduated with cum laude [italics] in litigation.”

          • The term “with cum laude“ is not grammatically correct. The following are correct:
            graduated with honors in litigation
            graduated cum laude with a concentration in litigation

  43. Ed Case says:

    I like German. All nouns are capitalized. Simple and end of discussion. It’s too bad English didn’t adopt this methodology.

  44. Leo says:

    I find a contradiction in the following two examples:

    He introduced Jennifer Miller, master of fine arts.

    He introduced Orlando Cruz, Bachelor of Science.

    Could you please clarify? Thank you.


    • Jane says:

      Your first example sentence is given in regard to the statement “The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) recommends writing academic degrees in lower case, except when using the degree as a title.”

      He introduced Jennifer Miller, master of fine arts.

      The second example sentence pertains to “The Associated Press Stylebook recommends using lower case when referring to degrees in general but capitalizing when they follow a name.”

      He introduced Orlando Cruz, Bachelor of Science.

      The style manuals have different rules. As we stated above, our recommendation is to pick your resource and then be consistent.

  45. Mary Wogec says:

    Thanks so much for the references. And thanks for a great website!

  46. Mary Wogec says:

    I’m looking for information not on academic degrees but on certificates and licenses issued by the State of California. This is for state regulations, but unfortunately the State offers no guidelines. We issue various certificates (Certified Phelbotomy Technician I and II, Medical Laboratory Technician, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, etc.) Should these titles be capitalized? Below are two examples:

    1. (b) To be certified as a Certified Phlebotomy Technician I, a person shall meet the following requirements:

    2. (i) Under the supervision of a physician and surgeon licensed under Chapter 5, physician assistant licensed under Chapter 7.7, clinical laboratory bioanalyst or clinical laboratory scientist licensed under Chapter 3, registered nurse licensed under Chapter 6, or certified phlebotomy technician with three years of experience in the previous five years;

    I would like to capitalize in the first example, but not in the second, but I need firm grammatical ground on which to stand. Could you offer any?


    • The style manuals do not specifically address certificates and licenses. The Chicago Manual of Style‘s rule 8.28 says, “Names of degrees, fellowships, and the like are lowercased when referred to generically.” However, they do state in their Q&A section, “Cap a degree on a résumé, business card, or diploma, in an alumni directory, or wherever it looks like a title rather than a description of what degree you have. Lowercase it in running text. You can’t go too far wrong with this if you’re consistent within a given document.” Since certified phlebotomy technician, medical laboratory technician, and clinical laboratory scientist look more like titles and the printed certificates might be considered similar to diplomas, you could have an argument to capitalize them. The most important thing is to be consistent.

  47. Amy says:

    Should I capitalize anything here (aside from the first word and the names of the schools?

    She received her art education certification from State University and her yoga teaching certification from Yoga University.

  48. Bebby says:

    I frequently have to write descriptive bios for young professionals who want to emphasize their academic honors. Is it correct to write: “She earned her BS, magna cum laude, in history…”? Or perhaps, “She earned her BS in history, magna cum laude,…” Or is there another, better way to express this? I have searched high and low and cannot find a recommendation on this in any of my reference books. Thanks.

  49. Birdie says:

    This is an argument I find myself in all the time. I cannot seem to understand what AP suggests. In the following sentence, I don’t think corporate communications and management should be capitalized because they are just concentrations, not the title of the degree. Or maybe they are and should be capitalized? So confusing!!!

    She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2008 with a BA in English for corporate communications and management.

    • Since you specifically asked about the Associated Press Stylebook’s rule, their advice reads,”The specialty is lowercase unless it’s a proper noun: bachelor’s degree in French history, master’s degree in natural resources, doctorate in English literature.”

      She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2008 with a BA in English in corporate communications and management.

  50. Rex Carlos says:

    Would it be correct to write Doctorate’s Degree for one with a PhD?

  51. Damon says:

    Just wondering how to handle degree abbreviations when the name appears in ALL CAPS, as would be the case if a name appears in a section title or book title. Specifically I’m wondering which of the following is the best option:

    JOHN DOE, Ph.D

  52. Stella says:

    Hi there,

    I’m currently formatting my resume, and I’m wondering how to list my degree and majors according to Chicago style. I double majored like one of the other posters above, and I’m struggling to find the best/most accurate way to convey this information.

    I started with
    Bachelor of Arts, English and history, May XXXX

    Then I switched to
    Bachelor of Arts, English and History, May XXXX

    I fret that the first example looks odd and/or inconsistent because of the lowercased “history,” and might draw attention to itself for the wrong reasons. But the second example kind of looks like I majored in a singular field of study called “English and History.”

    Would you be so kind as to help me out with this one? Thank you!

    • The Chicago Manual of Style’s Rule 8.84 says, “Academic subjects are not capitalized unless they form part of a department name or an official course name or are themselves proper nouns (e.g., English, Latin).” CMOS does advise that academic degrees be capitalized when used in lists or when displayed on a resume, however, CMOS does not specifically address academic majors on lists or resumes. In the case of a resume, you could interpret “academic degree” as including the major and capitalize both the degree and the major on a resume.

      Other possibilities for listing your degrees could be:
      Bachelor of Arts, English, May XXXX
      Bachelor of Arts, History, May XXXX
      Bachelor of Arts in both English and History, May XXXX

  53. Deborah says:

    I was wondering if the following is correct when capitalizing certain words (degrees and kindergarten teacher). Here is the beginning of my letter of intent for an elementary teacher position.

    I am interested in applying for the elementary teacher position at ______ Elementary School. Your opening for an elementary school teacher relates directly to my experience teaching K-6 grade school level in the ____ Elementary School District. I am highly qualified having earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with CLAD and a Supplementary Subject Matter credential in Introductory English K-9. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and a Master of Arts in Education from Azusa Pacific University.

    For the 2011-2012 school year, I was a temporary contracted kindergarten teacher at _______ Elementary.

    Thank you for your help!

    • Our blog Capitalization of Academic Degrees says, “The Chicago Manual of Style recommends writing academic degrees in lower case, except when using the degree as a title.” Also, we agree with lower case for “kindergarten teacher.”

  54. Suzanne says:

    When referring to a specific university in a sentence, Boston University for example would the sentence say: “While at the University golf course you were found in violation of speeding on a golf cart.” Or would university be lower case?

    • Our blog Capitalization of Governmental Words addresses this dilemma. The rule says, “When you refer back to a proper noun using a shortened version of the original name, you may capitalize it.”

  55. Gulmira says:

    hello, can you please tell me , if in my degree written as my name first and my dad’s name second and my surname is last, is it the acceptable way in my further education? as in the most of the way it supposed be written as first surname and first name, then father’s name…i am so confused

    • We are guessing that you are writing from a country outside the United States. In the U.S., our standard or most common naming convention is to have first and middle names that may or may not have any relationship to our parents’ names followed by our surname, which is our family name. Generally, high schools and universities in the U.S. will issue your diploma using the name that you used when registering or will ask you how you want your name to be printed on your diploma. We hope this answer is helpful to you. If not, please write back including a specific example or two illustrating your question.

  56. Jason says:

    I’m making a survey of sorts and asking people about their academic degrees. However, I’ve found somewhat conflicting information about the grammar. Are associate and doctorate followed by “degree” or not? Should they have an apostrophe or not?

    Academic Degrees (check all that apply)
    Associate Degree (Ex. AA, AS)
    Bachelor’s Degree (Ex. BA, BS, AB)
    Master’s Degree (Ex. MA, MS, MEd, MPH)
    Doctorate Degree (Ex. PhD, EdD, MD, JD)

    • The word degree does not follow doctorate. It can in the case of the three others. Associate degree and doctorate have no apostrophes. Both bachelor’s degree and master’s degree do. Also, since they are used generically, you do not need to capitalize the words, just the abbreviations.

      academic degrees (check all that apply)
      associate degree (Ex. AA, AS)
      bachelor’s degree (Ex. BA, BS, AB)
      master’s degree (Ex. MA, MS, MEd, MPH)
      doctorate (Ex. PhD, EdD, MD, JD)

  57. Ashley says:

    I also can’t find anything that truely clears up communication and communications…

    The company I want to apply for adds “S”. But in a resume and using AP Style, what is correct?


    Pursuing an opportunity with (ABC Company) to build strong relationships with external and internal audiences through the marketing communication (company used communication(s))specialist position


    Associates Degree, communication(or communication(s))
    Associates Degree, Communication(s)

    • AP Stylebook says, “The AP spelling would be guided by the specific college degree, business name or professional title. So the word could be singular for some cases, plural for others.” We recommend using the s if the company uses it and listing your degree the way your college spells it. You can either write associate of arts or associate degree. We think associate of arts looks better on a resume. The major or program name should be lowercase.

      Associate of arts, communication(s)

  58. Ashley says:

    I’m writing my resume and wanted to stick with AP Style.

    When using my degree as a title, is it okay to capitalize degrees in AP Style?

    For example, “Dual Bachelors of Arts, public relations & journalism”

    • Yes, AP Style does say to capitalize academic degrees. Do not capitalize the word “dual” unless it is the first word of a sentence. Also, use the word and rather than an ampersand (&) in formal writing, especially on a resume.

      dual Bachelors of Arts, public relations and journalism

  59. Heidi says:

    I have a question regarding how to write degrees for a wedding announcement. Should it read he received both an Associates and Bachelor of Science in Nursing. He also received a Master of Science in Nursing and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Nursing.

    • Unless the groom is insisting on listing his entire academic history, generally the highest degree earned is sufficient, especially since his degrees are all in the same field of study. Since you are not using the degrees as part of a title, do not capitalize:

      He received a master of science degree in nursing and is currently pursuing a doctorate in nursing.

  60. L.G. says:

    The position title is capitalized within the body of a job announcement. If I apply the ego rule, repeat its “error,” and capitalize the job position in my cover letter, how do treat the other job titles I mention later in the same letter (previous positions held)? It’s my inclination to leave those titles lowercase in running text, but I’m concerned about consistency.

    Thanks for a very helpful Web site!

    • We agree it would be more consistent to capitalize your previous positions held. If you use lowercase, the people reading your cover letter might interpret your previous positions as less important than the one announced. Will they look favorably on that or not? It is your call.

  61. Susan says:

    she received her BA in politics at Hendrix College
    she received her BA in Politics at… ??

    • The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Names of degrees, fellowships, and the like are lowercased when referred to generically.”

      She received her BA in politics at Hendrix College.

  62. Suresh G says:

    I am confused about this usage, How the order of academic degree should be written with a person’s name?

    Dr. Bill B.S., M.S., Ph.D.


    Dr. Bill Ph.D., M.S., B.S.

    Which usage is correct ?

    • Grammatically speaking, there is no preferred order. Usually, degrees are listed in the order in which they were earned, which generally corresponds with increased academic level. Some people choose to omit earlier degrees.

      Dr. Bill, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.

  63. Bill M. says:

    There is no right answer. These are rules made up by people like you and I. Write how you want and be happy!

    • For formal writing, we advise people to follow the rules of proper grammar and punctuation, rules which have been well established but do evolve over time and become recognized by such leading reference authorities as The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook and which we reflect on our website and in The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.

  64. Willie says:

    I have a Bachelor degree in Industrial Engineer and a Masters degree in Environmental Management but I’m not really sure how to specify my titles when writing my name?

    should it be: Eng…Name…… MEM ?


    Name……, Eng. MEM

    • Our blog Capitalization of Academic Degrees addresses this. The Chicago Manual of Style recommends writing academic degrees in lowercase except when using the degree as a title. The Associated Press Stylebook recommends using lowercase when referring to degrees in general but capitalizing when they follow a name. Both stylebooks agree that abbreviations of academic degrees are to be capitalized. Also, the degrees would be capitalized if appearing on a resume or in a list. My recommendation is to pick your resource and then be consistent.

      Willie Smith, BS, MS
      Willie Smith, BS, Industrial Engineering; MS, Environmental Management OR
      Willie Smith, BS, industrial engineering; MS, environmental management
      Willie Smith, bachelor of science in industrial engineering; master of science in environmental management OR
      Willie Smith, Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering; Master of Science in Environmental Management

  65. Leslie says:

    We have a question about whether certain medical terms or words should be capitalized. Such as Diabetes Mellitus, rotator cuff tear or repair, cardiac arrhythmia, etc.

  66. Katherine says:

    Quick question – if all surrounding text is in caps, would you cap all the letters of Ph.D. or not?


    • It is not a sound policy for text to be in all caps unless it is a military, police, Coast Guard, or National Weather Service bulletin, or you are sending a telegram. By definition “all caps” means all capital letters.

      • Eden Carr says:

        Regarding the question above: if the individual’s name is in all capital letters, do you capitalize the degree or not? I am listing a speaker’s name on an invitation. Which of the following versions is correct when printing an invitation or social media post announcing the speaker for an event:

        JANE DOE, PH.D. OR JANE DOE, Ph.D.

        Thank you!

        • As we indicated, we do not recommend writing names in all capital letters; however, invitations do not always follow standard rules of capitalization and punctuation. Your style preference can determine which treatment you use.

  67. brenda Komater says:

    For new hires–are their degrees capitalized in the body of the announcement? Or, if everything lowercase?

    Thank you,

    • Our blog Capitalization of Academic Degrees addresses this by citing other authoritative references. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) recommends writing academic degrees in lowercase, except when using the degree as a title. The Associated Press Stylebook recommends using lowercase when referring to degrees in general but capitalizing when they follow a name. My recommendation is to pick your resource and then be consistent.

      Juan Perez, bachelor of science OR
      Juan Perez, Bachelor of Science

      CMOS advises that academic degrees be capitalized when used in lists

      Our new marketing team includes:

      Lane Bridges, Bachelor of Science
      Carol Hudson, Bachelor of Arts
      Juan Perez, Bachelor of Science
      Justin Weber, Master of Business Administration

  68. Arah Pinson says:

    Are items in a series capitalized in a chart if those items are being emphasized?

  69. Elizabeth says:

    Isn’t it redundant to follow up many of these terms with “degree?” I would prefer to see “I earned a bachelor of science” to “I earned a bachelor of science degree,” but which is correct?

    • Bachelor of science is a phrasal adjective describing the word degree, so I do not consider it redundant. The use of “bachelor of science” without the word degree is just a shortened form. Either one is grammatically correct.

  70. marlene harper says:

    Actually I have a question is grammatically speaking using in a sentence : His “son” might come by tonight. vs. His “Son” might come by tonight. I know the later “Son” denotes Diety (Jesus the Son) but does “son”.

  71. Katie says:

    Is the capitalization in this sentence correct? Even though I’ve read to not capitalize degree titles in AP style, it seems odd for them to be lowercase.

    Katie studied journalism at the University of Memphis and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts with emphasis in public relations.

  72. Catharine says:

    Do I say: “I will pursue a Master of Science in International Politics” or “Master’s of Science…”

    And, how about: “I will work towards a Master of Philisophy/Doctor of Philosophy in War Studies” OR a “Master’s of Philosophy/Doctorate of Philosophy…”? (in the British system an MPhil is upgraded to a PhD).

    I’m writing applications and really need to make sure this is correct! Thanks!

    • The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Names of degrees, fellowships, and the like are lowercased when referred to generically:
      a master’s degree; a doctorate; a fellowship; master of business administration (MBA) Therefore, “master of science” or “master’s degree in science” would be grammatically correct as well as “master of philosophy” or “master’s in philosophy.”

      • Kristin says:

        So then when the discipline follows it, all remains lower case? As in, “he earned a master of science in biotechnology at the…”

        What about if it is a program title, then I can capitalize, right? For example, “He was accepted into the Master of Science in Biotechnology Program.”

        Thanks for your feedback. Great site!

  73. Anne says:

    Very interesting read. I am still confused though in some areas. For sentences that I would appreciate help on are:
    She has completed several programs that include computer analyst programmer and business adminstration.

    She holds a computer technology certificate and a masters certificate in project management.

    She is currently pursuing her master of business administration.

    She holds a bachelor of science degree and has completed programs related to information technology management.

    • Since The Chicago Manual of Style recommends writing academic degrees in lower case, except when using the degree as a title, your sentences are correct without the capitalization. Also, master’s certificate should have an apostrophe and please note the spelling of administration.

  74. Cathy says:

    What is the proper form for doctor’s degrees? Is their area of expertise capitalized? Please advise what should be caps in this paragraph: “He is board certified in Internal Medicine and board eligible in medical oncology. Dr. Doe practices general medical oncology and hematology, but has a particular clinical and research interest in lung cancer. Having helped establish and direct our multi-disiplinary lung cancer clinic.”
    Is there a website or other form of reference materiall I can refer to in the future.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Since this is such a specialized area, I will defer to The Chicago Manual of Style which recommends, “The following paragraphs offer only the most general guidelines. Medical writers or editors should consult the AMA Manual of Style or Scientific Style and Format.

      Names of diseases, syndromes, diagnostic procedures, anatomical parts, and the like are lowercased, except for proper names forming part of the term. Acronyms and initialisms are capitalized.

      The full names of institutions, groups, and companies and the names of their departments, and often the shortened forms of such names (e.g., the Art Institute), are capitalized.”

      Regarding degrees, “Spelled-out terms, often capitalized in institutional settings (and on business cards and other promotional items), should be lowercased in normal prose.”

      You do not indicate whether this paragraph is for an institutional setting or normal prose. If it is normal prose, only the doctor’s name and the names of any specific departments would be capitalized. If this is for an institutional setting, the specializations could also be capitalized, but not the diseases.

  75. Claudia says:

    Wondering if there is a specific rule for referring to a masters (apostrophe or no) – as in earned her masters in nursing. Thanks for your help.

  76. Hugh O. says:

    I just finished another program.

    Am I now a “B.A., J.D., CPht, M.S.”….are the degrees by chronological order or ranked by level of study accomplished?

    • Grammatically speaking, there is no preferred order. In general, degrees are listed in the order in which they were earned, which usually corresponds with increased academic level. In some cases it is customary to leave out earlier degrees, and in some cases people choose to omit lower-level degrees. It’s up to you.

  77. Robin says:

    Thank you so very much for providing this information on the internet.


  78. kk says:

    I just love this stuff. My idea of pleasure reading. I’m an English teacher and always wonder about this stuff. It’s so fluid.

  79. nicolas jorizzo says:

    do we capitalize things like academic titles …like chartered accountant?

    for example ….this report was written by Nicolas Jorizzo, Chartered Real Estate Broker…do i capitalize all words in my title?

  80. sue sperber says:

    What should be capitalized?
    “She received her b.a. degree in art, with a concentration in painting and special studies in old masters’ reproductions” ?

    • Jane says:

      There are so many options regarding capitalization with degrees. Yours is correct; however, the most common method may be as follows:
      She received her BA degree in art, with a concentration in painting and special studies in Old Masters’ Reproductions.
      I capitalized the last bit because of its specificity.

      • Helen says:

        Isn’t it redundant to say “master’s of arts degree”? A master’s of arts is a degree; there should be no need to say ‘degree’ after it.

        • Master of arts is a phrasal adjective describing the word degree, so I do not consider it redundant. The use of master of arts without the word degree is just a shortened form. Either one is grammatically correct. On a resume, it would be preferable to write master of arts or master’s degree. Note that the apostrophe s is not used with master of arts or bachelor of arts, but is used with master’s degree and bachelor’s degree.

          • Richard says:

            Can “Master of Art” also be viewed as a noun phrase?

          • You could write “He is a master of art” meaning “He is an artist of great and exemplary skill.” The term “master of art” here is a noun phrase and is not capitalized. You could also write “master of arts” without the word degree and it would be a noun phrase rather than an adjective. Example:

            He earned his master of arts at Northwestern.

  81. Lea says:

    I am confused about whether to capitalize specific centuries.
    Fifth Century B.C. or fifth century B.C. I see it as a common noun, such as the eleventh hour. In that case, it would be written in lower case. However, I also see that it is a specific point in time, leaving me to believe that it should be capitalized. Please help. Thank you!

    • Jane says:

      The Chicago Manual of Style says this:

      Particular centuries are spelled out and lowercased.
      the twenty-first century
      the eighth and ninth centuries
      from the ninth to the eleventh century
      the eighteen hundreds (the nineteenth century)

  82. Gretchen says:

    When does one use an apostrophe in writing degree names? Do I write, “Carrie earned a master’s degree?” or “Carrie earned a masters degree?” What about, “I’m working on my masters/master’s degree?” I see it both ways. Is it plural or is the degree belonging to the master or master category.
    Thank you.

    • Jane says:

      I found contradictory answers on the AP Style Manual site:
      A. Keep the apostrophe in the plural forms: “The university offers bachelor’s degrees in ….” 2007-02-11 (Source: Ask the Editor, Singular/plural)
      A. No apostrophe for simple plurals: Ph.D.s or Ph.D. degrees. (Source: Ask the Editor, Spelling)

      I cannot find anything in The Chicago Manual of Style, at least not yet. Therefore, it seems that you can either use or not use the apostrophe according to your own “taste.”

  83. Lilly says:

    “Bachelor of Arts degree” would be the correct way of writing it, right?

  84. JAH says:

    When saying Bachelors of Art degree, is the word “degree” capitalized?

    • Jane says:

      According to The Chicago Manual of Style, degrees should not be capitalized at all: “Names of degrees, fellowships, and the like are lowercased when referred to generically.” Yet this is on another page:
      BA Bachelor of Arts
      This is confusing, isn’t it? I recommend writing bachelor of arts degree.

  85. Yvonne Condo says:

    I’m so confused; which is correct: I received a bachelor of arts in Criminal History or I received a bachelor of arts in criminal history?

    I was under the assumption that I should capitalize the course title according to “The Gregg Reference Manual”

    I love getting your weekly grammar quizzes –


    • Jane says:

      The answer to your first question is “I received a bachelor of arts in criminal history.” I agree that course or program names should be capitalized.

      • Kristin says:

        Wait, so are these all correct:
        1) He earned a bachelor of arts in Criminal History.
        2) He earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal History.
        3) He earned a BA in Criminal History.


      • Kim says:

        Thank you for providing this resource and continuing to answer questions. It’s very helpful.

        I am trying to create a style guide for a college catalog with some clear rules for capitalizing program names. Should one capitalize them in all cases when the specific program name is used or only when it is used in certain contexts?

        1. The School of Arts and Sciences awards associate degrees in liberal arts and sciences, chemical technology and computer science. (These are all names of degree programs, so should they be capitalized or not in this context?)
        2. Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics
        3. The Applied Math and Computer Science degree programs

        • Names of specific course titles should be capitalized, but general academic subjects are not. In your first example “liberal arts and sciences, chemical technology and computer science” are referred to generically, therefore do not capitalize. Names of academic degrees are not capitalized, however, specific program names are generally capitalized. Therefore, we recommend writing “bachelor of science degree in Applied Mathematics” and “The Applied Math and Computer Science degree programs.”

          • Anne Marie says:

            This is all clear as mud to me.

            I’m a quality assurance analyst for an internet marketing company, and part of my job is to proofread website content. We work specifically with oral surgeons, so we see a lot of profile information about their education and training. Our team is developing a writing style guide, and I’m still struggling with differentiating between general academic subjects and specific degrees or programs, so it’s hard for me to settle on what to capitalize and what not to capitalize. Essentially, how do I tell the difference between an academic subject (not capitalized) and a specific course/program title (capitalized)?

            For instance:
            * He earned a bachelor of arts in medical biology. (I know that this is correct, but I can’t understand why. To me, medical biology is specific and should be capitalized, whereas just biology is general and should not.)

            What about internships, residency programs, etc.?
            * “After completing his dental studies, he entered a six-year residency program in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at….” Should oral and maxillofacial surgery be capitalized or not? Currently, we are capitalizing in these instances.

            Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated!

          • An academic subject is an area of knowledge that is studied at the school. A course is a specific class taken at the school. Medical biology is one of those tricky terms that could be used as a subject or a specific course title. You have to look at the way it is used in the sentence to identify it. “He earned a bachelor of arts in medical biology” implies that this is a subject area, not the title of a specific course. Specific programs are generally capitalized.

    • Lassy says:

      Bachelor of Arts in Criminal history

    • Lamar says:

      I have earned a Master’s Degree in Education, History Major and Political Science Minor.

      Please correct what I just wrote with an explanation.

      On a resume how would I style/abbreviate that?

      Lamar —–
      M. Ed. Hist & Pol Sci

      M. Ed. h & ps

      I’m confused.
      Thank you so much for your help.

      • The Chicago Manual of Style says, “Capitalize degrees on business cards, on diplomas, or when displayed in a directory or resume.” Otherwise, academic subjects are not capitalized. The abbreviation for master of education is EdM. We assume that your undergraduate degree was in history with a minor in political science. There is no one correct way to write this. A couple of possibilities might be:

        Lamar _____
        Master of Education, Bachelor of Arts (or bachelor of arts) in history with a minor in political science

        Lamar _____
        EdM; BA in history, minor in political science

    • Julie says:

      I am working on a brochure and someone sent me this description. Is this correct?
      He has a degree from the University of Iowa in English and a degree from St. Cloud State University in theatre education.

    • Gloria Gibson says:

      Should I write: Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education or Bachelor of Arts in music education?

      • The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) recommends the following except when directly preceding or following a name:
        bachelor of arts in music education
        bachelor of arts degree in music education

        The Associated Press Stylebook (AP) recommends the following:
        Bachelor of Arts in music education
        Bachelor of Arts degree in music education

        Our recommendation is to pick your resource and then be consistent.

        • Marci says:

          I believe there’s so much confusion because CMOS and the AP aren’t in agreement on the subject. I don’t think the way CMOS treats the question is logical at all, as far as the rules of grammar are concerned. A Bachelor of Arts or Master of Education, for example, are names, and names and titles are capitalized. The field of study shouldn’t be capitalized unless the word is a proper noun in itself, such as English, French, etc. I have a BA in history, or a Bachelor of Arts in history. In both examples, the capitalization is correct. In my view, the only time ‘history’, or any other program of study, whose name isn’t a proper noun, should be capitalized is when it’s truly part of the degree’s name; therefore, ‘Bachelor of Arts, History’ is correct, at least according to the only infallible source I’m aware of, the rules of grammar for the English language. Our language is complicated, and mastering it often proves to be tremendously difficult, especially for non-native speakers. Unfortunately, it seems that mastery isn’t easily achievable for a disproportionately high percentage of those identifying English as their mother tongue. I’m sorry for going off on a tangent and ranting a bit. I’m just so tired of the determined effort to dumb-down our language because there are too many sub-par English teachers who are saddled with lazy and/or incompetent students these days. I thank my lucky stars that my mother was an exceptional English teacher, and that my father was equally proficient. As a child, they drove me crazy with correcting my mistakes, but I’m so glad they didn’t give up on me. I appreciate the work you do in helping to disseminate correct information on grammar and other related issues. Too few understand the value of such knowledge.

          Now, about the confusion which seems to be pretty rampant within the comments section, I think there are a couple factors contributing to it. I believe you were right in including what the AP and the CMOS recommend, but, because the recommendations are completely at odds with one another, readers might have had difficulty understanding that you were simply providing both views, rather than strictly stating what is correct, and what is not. A single rule was most likely expected, but one doesn’t exist. There are nuances involved which probably caused some of the bewilderment. Since you provided information about something you already were knowledgeable about, I doubt that you’re aware of another likely contributing factor to the confusion. You began the article by stating what CMOS recommends, and then provided appropriate examples. You then did the same with the AP Stylebook recommendation, again sharing pertinent examples. I think it would’ve made things easier had you prefaced the sharing of CMOS and AP policies by stating that you were going to detail two different approaches because there’s no hard and fast rule on the subject. I agree with you that one way should be adopted and consistently followed, but you only alluded to the two contrasting opinions when you said, near the end, that both guides agree on the capitalization of the abbreviations for degrees. A lot of people have trouble summarizing what they’ve read, and this was probably made more difficult because the reader had to decide for himself which way was right for him. The comments show me that a lot of your readers probably just wanted to be told what to do, rather than having to make their own decision. You answered appropriately because sharing only your personal preference would have provided an incomplete picture. What I found mildly irritating with CMOS is that they think it’s correct to capitalize abbreviations for words they say should not be capitalized. That seems pretty ridiculous to me. And while I’ve pointed out that some of the people commenting seemed a bit confused, I do want to say that it’s refreshing to read questions asked by obviously intelligent people who were seeking clarity about something because they cared whether or not their writing was free from mistakes. Isn’t it sad that such an attitude has become fairly rare today? The opposite is what I stumble upon far too often, usually numerous times per day.

          I don’t want you to think I’m being critical because that certainly isn’t my intention. I know how it is to edit your own writing, which I’d imagine was the case when you wrote this years ago. It’s difficult to catch errors or identify any ambiguity when you’re proofreading your own work. And you’d need a proofreader who’s unsure about the capitalization of degrees, courses of study, etc., in order for you to receive good feedback. Obviously, I love grammar, writing and all that’s related to it, so I couldn’t control myself in writing this post. It’s a lot longer than your article! I’m sorry! This is what happens when delirium sets in from lack of sleep. And please excuse my referring to the CMOS and AP guides in the 3rd person plural. I tried not to, but I gave up on trying to rewrite every thing where I’d used “they” or “them”. I wonder what it’s like not to be OCD about all of this stuff. I’ll never know because I refuse to accept what many folks no longer consider to be erroneous, simply because of widespread misuse. I’ll never treat ‘disrespect’ as a verb, nor will I use a past participle without its helping verb (“I seen it.” ). ‘None’ and ‘neither’ is singular. And I will always use a subjective or nominative pronoun following the conjugated form of the verb ‘to be’, even if others believe I’ve made an egregious error. I can live with that more easily than if I were to disregard all that my sweet mother taught me. Thanks for passing on your knowledge, and for allowing me to ramble on and on and on.

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