How to abbreviate multiple degrees
May 9, 2010 1:03 PM   Subscribe

What is the best practice for listing two degrees after a name in an email signature, when the degrees weren't earned as a joint degree? For example, if the degrees are JD and MPA, should it be JD/MPA, JD+MPA, or some other combination? Maybe just a comma between them? JD/MPA would be the obvious choice for a joint degree, but these are from different universities and earned at different times.

Anonymous because (1) I realize this is a ridiculous and/or embarassing thing to do in an email signature, but (2) I'm unemployed right now and feel I need to do it anyway.
posted by anonymous to Education (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The way I've seen it is "John Smith, Esq., MPA."
posted by amro at 1:06 PM on May 9, 2010

All the people I've seen listing multiple degrees have used a comma. I've never seen it in an email signature but I assume you would use the same conventions there as anywhere else.

John Smith
posted by jacalata at 1:09 PM on May 9, 2010

I use a comma and am pretty sure I've only ever seen commas used for that purpose, even for joint degrees.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:22 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Commas, with the most advanced degree listed last.

John Smith, MPA, JD.
posted by proj at 1:27 PM on May 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Anything other than a comma looks pretty wrong to me.
posted by Diplodocus at 1:56 PM on May 9, 2010

I've just searched my inbox for 'MBA' and determined that options in use include:

John Smith

John Smith B.A. M.Sc MBA

John Smith, B.A., M.Sc, MBA

I'm not sure which I think is the best; the latter option has some appeal to me, but does make a bit of a stack of commas and periods.
posted by Mike1024 at 2:03 PM on May 9, 2010

I would advise against listing the BA unless it is on a CV or resume.
posted by proj at 2:19 PM on May 9, 2010

I consulted my university about this and they said there's no particular order in which degrees should be listed. I also understand that if you have two degrees in the same subject, you only list the more advanced one.

Here's my situation: I have a BA, followed by an MA that I didn't earn because Oxbridge issues MAs as a package deal, followed by an MSc in a different discipline. It would be disingenuous to list only the MA as I didn't produce a dissertation for it or anything, but I'm not going to leave it out either because I (morally) think I deserve it (long story, school of hard knocks etc). So I list both the BA and the MA, followed by the MSc.

I understand that postnominals issued by professional bodies should be bringing up the rear, so I list those last of all.
posted by tel3path at 2:37 PM on May 9, 2010

Data point: my supervisor's signature is Firstname Lastname, MD, MPH. She got the two degrees at the same. Obviously, MD outranks MPH.
posted by teragram at 3:11 PM on May 9, 2010

About 70% of the email that I receive (and 100% of what I send) comes from someone with a JD, and I don't think I have ever seen any indication of the degree in an email signature. The best practice with a JD, an MBA, an MPA, or any combination thereof, is to not include it in the signature.
posted by The World Famous at 3:25 PM on May 9, 2010

Skip the B.A. because if you have an MBA or JD it is pretty much a given that you got a BA somewhere along the way. This is an example of how professional degrees are listed with the most prestigous being first.
posted by MsKim at 3:49 PM on May 9, 2010


Please don't list your undergrad degrees that you got enroute to the advanced degrees. BA, MS, Ph.D. is not necessary.

Some people list the most prestigious first, some list in order of receiving them. (I work with a lot of MD, PhDs. Do not tell them that they are listing the MD first because it's more prestigious.) Also, degrees like MPH can be supplementary professional education, and listing it after the PhD makes this clear.
posted by desuetude at 4:59 PM on May 9, 2010

I work in the medical field and it is not uncommon for people to have more than one post grad degree. They follow the name and are separated by commas. There is no need to include the BA.

Example: Firstname Lastname, MD, MPH
posted by cestmoi15 at 6:23 PM on May 9, 2010

Nthing comma or nothing. Comma is more common, but either will work – no one is going to assume "JD" is your surname.

I've just had a look through my email at signatures from various people with all sorts of qualifications higher degrees. I've seen people list all degrees, no degrees (just a title like "professor"), or just the most interesting/relevant/impressive (someone had "PhD, RN" for example).

There really doesn't seem to be any "standard" way to express it, in my experience, other than the observation that unless you have some sort of special professional qualification as well, if you have a bunch of things including a PhD, most people just list the PhD.
posted by damonism at 7:25 PM on May 9, 2010

JD/MPA would be the obvious choice for a joint degree

No, you'd still use a comma in that situation. There is no reason — in the context of a signature — to draw attention to the fact that the degrees were earned simultaneously.
posted by thisjax at 7:37 PM on May 9, 2010

Rodney, is that you?
posted by holterbarbour at 11:56 PM on May 9, 2010

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