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  1. #1
    mdg1775 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2001
    West Coast!! US

    Question Ye' Old Signature Block Question again

    When is it okay to utilize a Masters Degree in a signature block. For example

    John Doe, M. Ed.


    AA Burlington College, NJ RA B&M
    MS Southwest Missouri, MO RA DL/BM
    PhD (on & off again...tried NCU, Capella, etc.).

  2. #2
    Han is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    I think when it is your highest ranking degree, it is acceptable. For a sginature block, or on business cards. I don't put it on in industry, but maybe in the academic setting it would be very useful.

  3. #3
    Bruce is offline Moderator
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Boston, MA
    I don't use my degree on my business cards, because 99.99% of the people I deal with at work couldn't care less that I have a Master's degree. :D

    I do, however, use it on the syllabi for the courses that I've taught. It's only fair for students to know the credentials of their instructor.
    Bruce Tait
    A.S. (Criminal Justice) Quincy College
    B.A. (Criminal Justice) Curry College
    M.A. (Criminal Justice) University of Massachusetts-Lowell
    M.A. (Forensic & Counseling Psychology) Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology
    Certificate (Investigative Psychology) CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice

    Certificate (Disability Awareness and Support in Higher Education) University of Pittsburgh
    Certificate (International Criminal Law) Case Western Reserve University
    Certificate (Psychology of Criminal Justice) University of Queensland
    Certificate (Classical Sociological Theory) University of Amsterdam

    RA Criminal Justice Degrees by Distance Learning - Updated 3/16/08

    NA Criminal Justice Degrees by Distance Learning - Updated 3/20/08

  4. #4
    boydston is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Laveen, Arizona
    Originally posted by Bruce
    I don't use my degree on my business cards, because 99.99% of the people I deal with at work couldn't care less that I have a Master's degree. :D

    I do, however, use it on the syllabi for the courses that I've taught. It's only fair for students to know the credentials of their instructor.
    Exactly. If you're an M.D. and people need to know the credential then it is important. Likewise if you're a counselor or maybe even a social worker. Otherwise it appears that you're flaunting your education . Understatement is generally the wiser statement.

    And context makes a lot of difference, too. When I was a minister in Texas I used the "Dr." title because it was an accepted practice there and because it seemed to add credibility to the church (and we needed all the credibility we could get :)). In California, where I am now, it adds very little credibility for most people and is perceived as snobish, so I hardly ever use it. And I'm most comfortable with that.

    What has been said about honorary degrees (a Mark Twainism -- or pseudo Twainism?) seems germane to credentials in general (from memory): "An honorary degree is like silk underwear -- feels nice to wear, but you wouldn't want to show it off." Obviously he would have been shocked by contemporary American fashion – as well as our infatuation with credentials.
    Brad Boydston

  5. #5
    Tireman4 is offline member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Houston, Texas
    I agree with Bruce. When I am teaching it matters. The credentials are there to fortify the teaching . In the real world, it really doesnt matter. I dont use them. Another item. When I am teaching , I refer to my students at Mr/Ms and they me. It develops a rapport between the two.

  6. #6
    maranto is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Baltimore, MD, USA
    Q. "When is it OK?"

    A. Only when you are British. :D

    Outside of a few instances, the only folks (in the US anyway) that I've seen use their masters degree in signature blocks are those who have MBAs, MSWs, MPHs, or some other vocationally-specific degree. Very rarely will you see someone annotate their name with an MA or MS. That doesn't mean that it is improper... just not common.

    Tony Maranto

  7. #7
    CoachTurner is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
    There is a wide range of opinion on this subject. Much depends on the profession and the organization. Having spent more than a few years as an administrative manager with responsibility for making documents look "right', let me offer this opinon; which is only my opinion.

    Q. When to use degree based post-nomials?

    The very first question should be "Does using the post-nomial add or detract from the document? Or, is it neutral?" If it detracts then leave it out. If it adds or is neutral then consider...

    2: Is the use ethical? In that it does not imply some expertise that I do not hold. Example, preparing a history of the town for the local genealogical society and signing as "John Smith, MA" when your MA is in bio-ethics and not history ... If the MA is in history , then it adds to the document's credibility and probably should be included. Many professional organizations specify the proper use of post-nomials by their members.

    3: Is the use traditional? Use of PhD when you have one is almost always traditional in the world of education . Use of other terminal degrees is also more than a little common in that world. Likewise, use of MBA is very common in banking and finance while MA is not as common in that environment. Many terminal and professional degrees are very common in daily contacts (MD for example) while some others are not common and may just imply an aire of superiority that the user did not intend nor desire. Daily social use of MME or MFA will probably raise more questions than any benefit of use is worth.

    3a: ...unless you're an indepent contractor/consultant who relies on daily contacts for future business -- in which case, those questions can open doors...

    3b: ...using an earned (or reputable honorary) doctoral title in a social setting is generally accepted. With the exception of medical doctors, it is generally more acceptable to use the post-nomial than the pre-nomial/honorific in social writing and the honorific "Dr." in speaking. Unless writing a husband and wife as in "Dr. and Mrs. John Smith"...

    4: Is it more appropriate to use a pre-nomial/honorific than the post-nomial? Physicans are general addressed and introduced with the pre-nomial Doctor to the point that in many circles that word is assumed to mean medical doctor. In closely related fields, it is often best to use the post-nomial to avoid confusion (or even accusations of fraud). An example might be the case of a physiologist working in a hospital setting who could be known as "Dr. John Jones" or "John Jones, PhD" -- in that medical setting, the latter is less confusing. Either is correct. "Dr. John Smith, MD" is never correct written usage.

    5: Is it being used appropriately in a chain of post-nomials? It is very common (and generally appropriate) to use "John Smith, MD, MPH " or "Sue Jones, JD, MS (taxation )" -- or in chain with certain credentials such as "John Jones, RN, MSN " or "Sue Franklin, CPA , MBA " or with certain professional affiliations in the manner "John Smith, MD, FACS" or "Sue Franklin CG, MA". At the same time, "John Jones, RN, BS" is not traditional usage but isn't wrong.

    Using "John Smith, BA, MA, PhD" is seen by most as repetitive at best and pretentious at worse.


    Just a few thoughts....
    Carson Turner
    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
    BA, Coastal Carolina University
    BSLS, Excelsior College
    MA, MBA, MA, Webster University
    MAIS, Western New Mexico University (due 2013)

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