Academic Degree Abbreviations Decoded

Updated: Feb 26


Academic Degree Abbreviations Decoded by Ashan R. Hampton

In the workplace, some people decorate their names and titles with multiple abbreviations to indicate earned academic degrees. Have you ever wondered how to spell them out in full words and phrases? In times past, only doctoral or graduate degrees were noted in the signature lines of emails. Currently, however, the trend is to list EVERY earned degree including bachelor’s and associate degrees.


To ensure that everyone is duly noted for his or her educational achievements, academic and non-academic professionals alike should take note of the proper degree names that correspond to all of those capital letters. Although not exhaustive, this list is quite helpful as a reference guide for everyday business and general office communications.


DOCTORAL DEGREES:

  • Doctor of Arts (D.A.)

  • Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)

  • Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.)

  • Doctor of Divinity ( D.D.)

  • Doctor of Literature or Doctor of Letters (D.Lit. or D. Litt.)

  • Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)

  • Doctor of Music (D. Mus.)

  • Doctorate of Nursing Science (D.N.S.)

  • Doctor of Philosophy (D. Phil.)

  • Doctor of Science (D.Sc.)

  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

  • Doctor of Engineering (Eng.D.)

  • Doctor of Law or Juris Doctor (J.D.)

  • Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

  • Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

  • Doctor of Theology (Th.D.)


SPECIALIST DEGREES:

  • Educational Specialist (Ed.S.)

  • Bachelor of Accountancy (B.Acc.)


MASTER’S DEGREES:

  • Master of Laws (LL.M.)

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)

  • Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)

  • Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

  • Master of Education (M.Ed.)

  • Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

  • Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.)

  • Master of Public Affairs (M.P.A.)

  • Master of Project Management (M.P.M.)

  • Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.)

  • Master of Religious Education (M.R.E.)

  • Master of Science (M.S.)

  • Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)


BACHELOR’S DEGREES:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

  • Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.)

  • Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.)

  • Bachelor of Commerce (B.Comm.)

  • Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.)

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)

  • Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.)

  • Bachelor of Music (B.M.)

  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


ASSOCIATE DEGREES:

  • Associate of Arts (A.A.)

  • Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)

  • Associate of Arts in Teaching (A.A.T.)

  • Associate of Baccalaureate Studies (A.B.S.)

  • Associate of Engineering Science (A.E.S.)

  • Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.)

  • Associate in General Studies (A.G.S.)

  • Associate of Science (A.S.)


GRAMMAR/ USAGE NOTES:

According to The Associated Press Stylebook, the word associate, as in associate degree, is not written in the possessive: associate’s. Therefore, associate’s degree is incorrect, but associate degree is the acceptable term. I would also like to add a distinction between doctorate and doctoral when referencing this particular degree. The word doctorate is a noun. For example, Sharese completed a doctorate in professional writing.


However, doctoral is an adjective that describes the type of degree being referenced. For example, Sharese completed a doctoral degree in professional writing. In this case, doctoral is an adjective that modifies the noun degree. So, instead of doctorate degree, the correct phrasing is doctoral degree.


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Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. She is also a proud graduate of the Donaghey Scholars Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock under the direction of Dr. C. Earl Ramsey, Emeritus. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers online writing courses and print books for academic and professional development to individuals and corporations. She is also a prolific published author of several books on a variety of topics. To find out more about Ashan's work, visit www.arhampton.com.

 

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