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Behind every master's degree is a lot of hard work and money. Adding your graduate degree to your name shows others what you have earned, that you are well-educated and qualified. However, just because you have earned your degree doesn't mean you should sign your name with it. In some cases, adding your degree to your resume is enough.
When to Add Your Degree to Your Name
Degrees, or post-nominal credentials such as your master's degree, are only listed in official situations. In social situations, you should not add your degree to your name. Unless you work in academia, only add the degree if it is directly related or required for your job or for the service you provide. For example, if the degree is required, such as a M.P.A. or M.S.W., include it. When in doubt, find out what your colleagues or peers are doing. If they have added their degree to their name, then you can do the same.
How to Add Your Degree to Your Name
Add the abbreviated initials for your master's degree to the end of your name. Separate your name from the degree using a comma. For example, if you have a master's of social work, you would add it to your name like this:
John Doe, M.S.W.
If you are unsure of the proper abbreviation for your degree, look it up in the Dictionary of Abbreviations for Academic Degrees or check with your school to find out the exact name of the degree conferred.
If you have more than one degree, list your highest degree first, or only list the relevant degree.
When to Specify the Major
It is rare to specify the major of your master's degree in your signature. Generally specialized or professional master's degrees such as the M.S.W. or M.B.A. specify the type of master's degree earned. This is usually enough. However, if your master's degree was conferred as a general M.A. or M.S. in a major that is specifically required for your job or to perform a service, it might make sense to specify the major. For example, if your M.S. is in mechanical engineering or a closely related major, you might want to specify this. Other people shouldn't have to guess the relevance of your degree.
Adding Your Degree to Your Business Card
Adding your degree to your business card is becoming outdated. Consider only adding your degree to your business card if the degree is required for your job or if it is otherwise relevant. If your master's degree is in a generic or general area, or is not necessary for your profession, leave it off your business card. Your business card is not your resume; stick to the pertinent details of your name and job title. Your resume will list your degree.
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Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.