Academic Degrees, Licenses, Credentials

Spelling and Format

Do not use periods in academic degrees, licenses, or other credentials.


Do not capitalize generic degrees. Note correct use of apostrophes and spelling.

  • bachelor's degree; bachelor of arts
  • master's degree; master of science in nursing; master of public health
  • doctoral degree; doctorate (not doctorate degree)
  • doctor of medicine
  • medical degree (a generic term for MD, DO, and all foreign equivalents)

When used after a name, set off the degree with commas.
Nancy Brown, MD, joined the institution in 1990.

Inclusion of Degrees in Text

As an academic institution, we value educational and professional credentials. At the same time, we need to make an effort to maintain readability and accessibility.

In items such as business cards, stationery, and publicity pieces for events, degrees and credentials are at the discretion of the individual in reference.

A more conservative approach is used in running text.

Bachelor's Degrees: Bachelor's degrees are generally not included. Exceptions may be made, upon request, for specialized professional degrees (e.g., BSN, BPharm) when it is the highest degree obtained.

Master's Degrees: If an individual does not hold a doctorate, master's degrees will be considered upon request. If an individual does hold a doctorate, master's degrees will not be included, unless the master's degree represents a specialized field or a field different from that represented by the doctorate (e.g., MPH or MBA for an individual with a medical degree).

Licenses, Certifications, and Professional Designations: Only relevant clinical licenses will be included (e.g., RN, PT, RD), but not certifications or other designations (e.g., FACP, CCRN). List the academic degree first, followed by the license.

On business cards: Sarah Sampson, MS, PhD, RN, CCRN
In text: Sarah Sampson, PhD, RN

Other Points

Do not use MD or PhD as an abbreviation for physicians or scientists, or RN as an abbreviation for nurses. These abbreviations should be reserved for degrees and licenses, not people.

In the first reference, use the academic degree. In subsequent references, use Dr. Never use Dr. when also using the academic degrees in the same reference.

Nancy Brown, MD, is a member of the Department of Medicine. Dr. Brown joined the institution in 1990.

For an individual with a PhD who is not a physician or a scientist, such as an administrator or nurse, use Dr. according to his or her preference.