Subscribe to The Chicago Manual of Style Online
Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading
Q. I have to write about someone with two PhD’s and a wealth of other academic degrees. The editors I freelance for require a degree behind the name, but are of two minds: one says that only the terminal degree should be named; the other says that all the degrees should be used, but asks, in what order? Mostly we will call her Dr. Doe, but which is right? Jane Doe, PhD, MBA, BA, or Jane Doe, PhD?
A. This is a question for the etiquette mavens, but listing lower degrees without identifying their areas of study serves no obvious purpose and may strike readers as silly—or pompous. It’s different when a person holds complementary or unrelated degrees, and the fields are stated: for example, a BA in mathematics and a PhD in philosophy. In Ms. Doe’s case, it’s reasonable to list the PhD and MBA, since the degree of MBA indicates business as the field of study, and we wouldn’t assume that a PhD has an MBA in the way that we assume she has a BA and perhaps an MA.