Saint Peters University - Communications (2023)

Academic Degrees, Personal Titles and Class Years

I. Academic degrees, personal titles, and class years

Academic Degrees

  • Academic majors, unless a proper noun, should not capitalized (e.g.,John has a bachelor of economics degree, or John has a bachelor’s degree in French literature.).
  • When used after a name, an academic abbreviation is set off by commas (e.g.,Mary Doe, Ph.D., spoke.).
  • The word “degree” should not follow an abbreviation (e.g.,She has a B.A. in English literature, not She has a B.A. degree in English literature.).
  • The first time a name is mentioned in narrative text, use the suffix (e.g.,John Smith, Ph.D., spoke at the event.) For subsequent referrals to the name, you need not repeat the suffix (e.g.,Dr. Smith spoke about religion in South America, or Smith was pleased to speak to so many of our students.).
  • Avoid redundancies.
  • Do not precede a name with a courtesy title for an academic degree and follow it with the abbreviation for the degree in the same reference (e.g.,Jane Doe, Ph.D., not Dr. Jane Doe, Ph.D.).
  • Use abbreviations after full names, but refrain from using abbreviations after last names alone (e.g., Jane Doe, Ph.D., not Doe, Ph.D.).
  • When listed, names should be in alpha order by last name.


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Only capitalize formal titles when used directly before a name (e.g., Vice President for Advancement and External Affairs, Leah Leto M.Ed. ’05).

  • In general, do not capitalize titles that follow a name (e.g., Leah Leto M.Ed. ’05, vice president for advancement and external affairs, is in today.).
  • Courtesy titles such as Miss, Mr., Mrs. or Ms. should not be used with the first and last names of the person. Use last name only unless otherwise indicated (e.g.,Mr. Smith, or Joe Smith, not Mr. Joe Smith).

Academic Titles

  • Capitalize and spell out formal titles such as president, professor, dean, chairman, etc., when they precede a name (e.g.,Professor Smith). It is preferred that these titles appear in lowercase when the title follows a name or stands alone (e.g.,Bob Smith is a professor at Saint Peter’s University.).
  • Try to avoid abbreviating the word “Professor.” In case of space restrictions, use “Dr.” in place of Professor.
  • In general, lowercase modifiers (e.g.,We spoke with history professor Bob Smith about his work.).
  • In some cases, appointed academic titles may be capitalized following a name (e.g.,if given a title by the Peabody Fund, a person could be calledBob Smith, Peabody Professor of Languages).
  • Do not hyphenate “vice president.”
  • When referring to a retired male professor, use the wordemeritusafter the title (e.g.,Joe Smith, dean emeritus of the graduate school, visited.).
    • Emerita – singular female
    • Emeriti – plural male or mixed-gender professors
    • Emeritae – plural female


  • Alumnus
    • Alumnus – singular male
    • Alumni – plural male
    • Alumna – singular female
    • Alumnae –plural female
  • Alumni names are expressed with an apostrophe and the last two digits of the graduation year (e.g.,Jane Doe ’96).
  • Note the direction of the apostrophe.
    • Jane Doe ’96 is correct; Jane Doe ‘96 is not.
  • When listing the recipients of honorary degrees, place a capital “H” between the recipient’s last name and the year of reception (e.g.,Edward Jones H ’04). All references should specify that the degree was honorary. Do not use the name Dr. before the name of an individual whose only doctorate is honorary.
  • When listing the recipients of honorary alumni awards, place a capital “HA” between the recipient’s last name and the year of reception (e.g.,Sarah O’Malley HA ’76).
  • Alumni who are faculty, staff and administrators at Saint Peter’s University should place their graduation years after their names on business cards, name tags and signature lines.
  • For two-degree graduates, use comma/space: “Jane Doe ’07, ’09”

Departments of Study

  • Capitalize the names of formal programs of study, but lowercase informal and generic references to programs and courses of study (e.g.,He was enrolled in the theology program; orThe lecture was presented by the Department of Theology.).
  • Capitalize official names of courses and lecture series, but do not use quotation marks. (e.g.,He is registered for Introduction to Sociology, orRobert Smith gave a talk for the Guarini Lecture Series.)


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  • Commas are used to set off academic, professional and religious designations (e.g.,Robert G. Lahita, M.D.; Rev. Michael Braden, S.J.; Kristina Chew, Ph.D. etc.).
  • Commas are not used to set off Jr., Sr., and I, II, and III after a name, because these are considered part of a person’s name (e.g.,Martin Luther King Jr., Michael J. Kabot II).
  • Religious designations
    • The first reference to a clergyman or clergywoman normally should include a capitalized title before the individual’s name with the initials S.J. after it (e.g., Rev. Rocco Danzi, S.J.).
    • When the designation “S.J.” is used, it should always be capitalized, have periods after each letter, and appear following the person’s name set off by commas (e.g.,John Smith, S.J.).
    • On second reference, it is common to omit the first name (e.g.,Rev. John Smith, S.J.,followed byFr. Smith).
    • Abbreviations for Catholic religious orders can be found online at:


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