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Academic degrees and class year

office of university communications

Do not capitalize degree names.

bachelor of science, bachelor of arts, bachelor’s degree

master of arts, master’s degree

doctoral degree

Not his or her bachelor’s degree/master’s degree or doctoral degree.

She received a bachelor’s degree.

He earned a master's degree.

The plural form of a degree is the same as the singular.

They received master’s degrees. She received a bachelor’s degree.

Cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude are not in italics or set off with commas.

Joann graduated summa cum laude from Boston College with a major in history.

Doctoral (adjective), doctorate (noun).

She received a doctoral degree. She was awarded an honorary doctorate.

Class year

Do not use a comma before a class year;  Always use a space before a class year.

Sally Smith ’11

Joe Smith Jr. ’63 (no comma between name and Jr.)

Sally Smith III ’68 (no commas before or after III)

P ’03 (is parent of the 2011 student, space after P)

Sally Smith ’54, J.D. ’61

NC ’50 (is for a graduate of Newton College of the Sacred Heart, space after NC, no periods for NC)
Sally Smith, Ph.D. ’03 or M.S.W. ’95; use a space before class year when including degree (Sally Smith, M.A. ’03)


Use a comma between a name and the degree.  Use commas to separate multiple degrees.  Do not use a comma between the degree and class year. 

Sally Smith, M.A.
Sally Smith, M.A., B.A. ’03

Degree abbreviations

Bachelor of Arts                                  
Bachelor of Sacred Theology S.T.B.
Bachelor of Science  
Master of Arts  
Master of Arts in Teaching   
Master of Business Administration M.B.A.
Master of Divinity M.Div.
Master of Education M.Ed.
Master of Law 
Master of Science   
Master of Science in Teaching  
Master of Social Work   
Master of Theological Studies M.T.S.
Master of Theology Th.M.
Certificate of Advanced 
Educational Specialization
Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies
Licentiate in Sacred Theology S.T.L.
Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D.
Doctor of Law J.D.
Doctor of Sacred Theology S.T.D.

See Fact Book 2008–2009 (page 91) for a list of honorary degrees granted by Boston College.

Graduate degree

To designate a graduate degree, it is preferable to use the graduate degree instead of a school’s acronym before the class year. If the school acronym is used before class year, it may be confused with someone who attended, but did not graduate. If a student did graduate, use the degree before the class year (Sally Smith, M.A. ’03; not Sally Smith, GSAS ’03). Special case: For graduates of the Newton College of the Sacred Heart, use NC ’50.

Note: Schools such as the Law School may simply write Sally M. Smith ’95 in their own materials to designate a graduate of their school. This is acceptable, but it is preferable to include the degree, so that it’s not confused with an undergraduate degree. For example, write instead: Sally M. Smith, J.D. ’95.