Capitalization

Q. In section 8.28 of the 16th edition, the Manual specifies that academic degrees are lowercased when referred to generically. I infer from the converse that specific degrees then are capitalized. However, I am confused by the examples: a master’s degree and a master of business administration. Wouldn’t the latter be a specific degree? What is an example of a degree that would be capitalized?

A. Capitalize degrees on business cards, on diplomas, or when displayed in a directory or resume. Lowercase them in running text, where they are almost always generic in nature. Some contexts—especially in an academic publication or in advertising—suggest that a specific degree is being named, and it’s common to capitalize: “All applicants for the Master’s in Cerebral Cosmetic Surgery should send $24,000 in unmarked bills to the Bob’s Your Uncle Online University at the address below.” But even then, a master’s in cerebral cosmetic surgery is generic in that anyone with the cash can have one, so lowercasing it (per Chicago style) would also be fine.