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When Do You Capitalize Academic Degrees?

It depends on the discipline.

By
Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

When Do You Capitalize Academic Degrees?

People often think there is a typo on my “About Grammar Girl” Web page because it says I have an undergraduate degree in English (capitalized) and a graduate degree in biology (lowercased).

Although I’ve never claimed to be perfect, that isn’t a typo.

Degree Names from Proper Nouns Are Capitalized

"English" is capitalized because it's derived from a proper noun ("England"), and biology is lowercased because it is not derived from a proper noun. Similarly, "Spanish," "Italian," and "German" are capitalized because they are derived from the country names "Spain," "Italy," and "Germany."

Degree Names from Common Nouns are Lowercased

Subject names such as "chemistry," "math," and "visual arts" are not capitalized because they don't come from proper nouns.

Related Articles

Understanding Capitalization
Capitalizing Proper Nouns
Capitalizing Titles

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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