Should Academic Degrees Be Capitalized?

Are Degrees Capitalized?

You may have encountered a moment where you need to cite someone’s academic accomplishments in your writing. However, you are unsure if you need to capitalize their degree(s). 

As with most things in English, capitalization rules can be pretty vague and usually are up to the readers/writers’ interpretation. Luckily, there are a few main schools of thought on this age-old issue. 

Capitalization According To The Chicago Manual Of Style:

According to the Chicago Manual Of Style, degree names should be lowercase when referred to regularly. When referred to as a title, they should be uppercase, such as business cards, resumes, and biographies. 

Here are a few example sentences of degree capitalization under the Chicago Manual Of Style:

  • Margarette Mana is a critically acclaimed botanist, Master of Botanical Sciences 
  • Robert is pursuing a bachelor of science in biology 
  • Daniel just received his degree for master of science in physics 
  • The direction introduced famous scientists with a Ph.D. in Astronomy

Capitalization According to The Associated Press Stylebook

In contrast to the Chicago Manual Of Style, the Associated Press Stylebook dictates that degrees should be lowercase when used in general terms. However, they should be capitalized in reference to specific degrees (such as a Bachelor of Arts or a Masters of Science). In addition, the Associated Press Stylebook also states that the degree’s field of study should be lowercase unless it is a proper noun (such as with English or Asain studies). 

Here are a few example sentences of degree capitalization according to the Associated Press Stylebook:

  • Marcus is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in biology
  • Tina is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English 
  • Shane is planning on getting a master’s degree

Related: Is It Master’s Degree or Masters Degree?

More Examples:

  • The keynote speaker will be a Ph.D. holder in Mathematics, John Davis. 
  • Michael is finally reaching the end of his schooling to receive his master’s in biology 
  • Proud recipient of a master’s in Physics, Daniel Cliffe will be hosting a lecture today

Summary

There isn’t a “set” guideline on how you need to capitalize degrees in English. However, there are multiple schools of thought that have separate guidelines. Unless you must write to a specific guideline, it is probably best to simply pick a method and stick to it! 


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