One month to Masters
November 19, 2009 3:11 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to indicate a degree I've completed but haven't officially been awarded yet?

This seems silly, but came up twice today. I've recently completed the final requirement for a masters degree, but of course, won't officially be considered "graduated" until the end of the semester.

However, I've encountered instances where it seems appropriate to indicate the pending degree in correspondence (but not appropriate to write a whole sentence about it). What's correct? (Fake name and degree in examples.)

Jay Dawg, MNS (to be awarded Dec. '09)

Jay Dawg, MNS (pending award)

Jay Dawg (MNS anticipated Dec. '09)

Something else? Does it matter? It all seems a bit overthought, but there must be a protocol or etiquette to this, right?

posted by j-dawg to Education (23 answers total)
Seeing as you are only talking about the difference of a few weeks, I hardly think anyone will blame you if you prematurely sign off as Jay Dawg, MNS
posted by Think_Long at 3:17 PM on November 19, 2009

Jay Dawg MNS (pending DATE)
posted by bearwife at 3:19 PM on November 19, 2009

If you've finished the degree requirements, you've got the degree. The ceremony at the end of term is just when they hand out the diploma.

At my univerity transcripts reflect the date the final requirements were met, not the end of the semester in which requirements were met. I'd put the month you finished the requirements down and not expect any questions about it.
posted by pseudonick at 3:20 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Resume-chewing machine speaking here: Doesn't matter / you're overthinking.

Don't bother worrying about this. Just include it in its finished form: "J-Dawg, MNS" or "J-Dawg, MNS (2009)" If for some reason the institution does not award you the degree, then you can worry about changing it.
posted by rokusan at 3:24 PM on November 19, 2009

Jay Dawg, MNS (dec 2009).

Assume whoever you're writing to can figure out that's in the future.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The fact that you don't yet have a degree certificate to have an to hold is a matter between your university and you. No need to complicate your resume. As pseudonick points out, any employer who wishes to check your transcript from now will be able to see that you have the degree.
posted by rongorongo at 3:38 PM on November 19, 2009

My profs always told us to just put it down. If you think you'll get your degree in Dec 09, write it as Dec 09. The fact that it's a future date explains that it's pending.
posted by debbie_ann at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2009

Jay Dawg (MNS anticipated Dec. '09)

This implies to me that you haven't completed all of your requirements yet, but will be finished in December. The "anticipated" also makes it seem like it's slightly possible that you wouldn't gain the degree in December.
posted by niles at 4:06 PM on November 19, 2009

definitely indicate that you have not yet been awarded the degree. it's not just a "complication" - you have not formally been awarded the degree. this kind of stuff can come back and bite you in ways you don't anticipate, and it's easy enough to put "anticipated" or "to be awarded."
posted by yarly at 4:08 PM on November 19, 2009

Thanks. Balancing all the opinions, "Jay Dawg, MNS (to be awarded Dec. '09)" seems like the right compromise choice. (And just to clarify, it's not for the resume, which would be a lot easier I think. Just for professional correspondence.)
posted by j-dawg at 4:31 PM on November 19, 2009

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when people claim to have degrees that have not been awarded yet. If anyone tries to verify that you have the degree and then you have to explain that that you completed the requirements but don't have the degree yet, you will look seriously bad in a possibly career-affecting way.

I don't like any of the Jay Dawg, MNS forms—they seem presumptuous since you aren't an MNS yet. From debbie_ann's suggestion, I think "Jay Dawg (MNS Dec. 2009)" would be better. Really, you should question the need to include the degree at all in a signature line before you have it. It adds a lot of potentially unnecessary awkwardness.
posted by grouse at 4:37 PM on November 19, 2009

Your degree is completed but has not been conferred. So you could either just put that directly (completed, not yet conferred) or put 'completed' (since it is) then in later correspondance change it to 'conferred' once it has been. If anyone asks you can elaborate about timelines then. Alternatively you can leave it ambiguous, just list the degree, if you don't think the person will care about the details.

And you actually don't have the degree yet, legally speaking, and sometimes it matters. For example, you may not be eligable for certain types of funding or specific pay grades yet as you don't have the degree needed to qualify. My University wouldn't let you begin enrolment for a PhD program until after December, for example, which has lead to several of my friends having to get a job for three months while they wait. It's probably not an issue for your correspondence but it's still worth making sure you don't claim something incorrect.

Oh and I agree that anticipated kind of undersells the situation.
posted by shelleycat at 4:39 PM on November 19, 2009

I'm in the exact same situation right now (for about another week). I have referred to it as Jay Dawg, DEGREE (Nov-09).

No grief.
posted by philip-random at 5:01 PM on November 19, 2009

You could indicate:

Jay Dawgy MNS (Requirements completed. Conferred Dec 2009).
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:10 PM on November 19, 2009

To elaborate, the only reason this is coming up at all is dealing with arrangements for activities in the future (groups I'll work with that won't convene until the new year; conference planning for conferences that are in the spring, stuff like that).
posted by j-dawg at 6:47 PM on November 19, 2009

If you're not going to deal with these people beyond the current correspondence until next year then just put MSN (2009). By the time your group convenes or you're setting out chairs for the conference you'll have the degree and the details of exactly when won't matter too much. You could put Dec 2009 (or Conferred Dec 2009) to be more specific but that may just confuse things, and since it's not a job application or something where that detail is likely to matter too much might as well keep things simple.
posted by shelleycat at 7:24 PM on November 19, 2009

I've always seen it written "J-Dawg, MNS candidate," but I think that's for before the defense (or after the defense but before revisions?).
posted by Dr. Send at 10:05 PM on November 19, 2009

I've always seen "Candidate" used for someone just enrolled and also only for PhD students. So I'm a Doctoral Candidate now even though my thesis is only half written. Between submission and my defence I'd be S. Cat, PhD (submitted Jan 2010). This may be either wrong or regional though, but I figured I'd mention it because it makes sense to avoid confusion. If the confusion is just me then ignore :D
posted by shelleycat at 10:13 PM on November 19, 2009

Candidate is probably not strong enough—as shelleycat notes you can sometimes have the status of "candidate" immediately after matriculation.

But yeah, you definitely aren't X, PhD before you've even had your defense. At that point, you haven't even fulfilled all the requirements of the degree, since presumably one of them is to pass the defense.
posted by grouse at 10:31 PM on November 19, 2009

Having trouble imagining instances where it "seems appropriate to include the degree in correspondence." If the correspondence is formal enough, then precision is likely important too.
The protocol varies from profession to profession. But one constant remains: it's always better to err on the side of caution with academic credentials.
You can add the initials--if they really help achieve your goals--on future correspondence.
posted by Phred182 at 10:48 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

grouse has a good point and I meant to type earlier: S. Cat, PhD Candidate (submitted Jan 2010) as the submission is an important milestone. (which will probably happen in May but anyhoo)

Heh, and I'm not sure what matriculation means. Here a candidate is anyone enrolled for the degree, which isn't totally straight forward but not overly hard either.
posted by shelleycat at 1:15 AM on November 20, 2009

[In Germany (and, as far as I know, several other title-obsessed European countries), it is customary to write "Dr. des." for someone who has completed their PhD but has not been officially awarded with the degree. That's from the latin for "designated" (designatus), and that's what you'd normally use in the application process.
I've never heard that expression in English though, and even in Germany, it is only used for doctorate degrees, not for masters.]
posted by The Toad at 1:22 AM on November 20, 2009

At my institution you have officially met the requirements when the exam board examines your summed marks, makes any amentments, and approves your award. Before that you are still a student, after that you can be regarded as having the qualificiation absent of any official graduation ceremony. Do you have a similar set up at your institution? If not what set up do you have? Where are you in the process?
posted by biffa at 2:01 AM on November 20, 2009

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