Is it Masters Degree or Master’s Degree?


Many may wonder whether to add an apostrophe to master’s degree, something than can confuse even those with a highly advanced education in working with words. We will address a few facets concerning this term, including apostrophes, possessive use, and capitalization.

Do You Use an Apostrophe When Spelling Master’s Degree?

The most direct answer is yes. Master’s degree is spelled correctly with an apostrophe. This is because earning such a degree signifies that you have “mastered” a specific area of study. So, the degree is conferred upon the master of that topic.

The Possessive Nature of a Master’s Degree

We could say that a master’s degree is called such because it is awarded to someone who has mastered an academic area; he or she gains possession of the degree and the subject mastery. Keeping this in mind can help you remember to include the apostrophe in the phrase.

Conversely, masters degree without an apostrophe would signify a type or category of academic achievement instead of achievement and ownership of the degree.

We would not write masters degree just as we would not write a phrase such as Suzys shoes to indicate Suzy has a pair of shoes.

Must Master’s Degree Be Capitalized?

Another question commonly raised is whether master’s degree needs to be capitalized. The answer is that it does not need to be capitalized when generally referred to (I have a master’s degree in biology).

We would capitalize “master” when it is part of a proper title (e.g., a subject or a curriculum: Master of Business Administration) Note too that we would not include an apostrophe in these references, as they do not convey possession but rather a category.

Examples of Proper Usage
Possessive: Joan has a master’s degree in literature.
Capitalized: I was looking into the Master of Arts program at Northwestern University.

 

Pop Quiz

Applying what you’ve learned in this article, choose the proper word for each sentence.

  1. Once I earned my [Masters Degree / master’s degree], I knew I was ready for a career in finance.
  2. A [master degree / master’s degree] looks great on your resume, but you don’t need one to apply for this opening.
  3. Jaime’s LinkedIn page says he earned a [master’s / Master] of Science from MIT.
  4. My [master’s degree / Master degree] had a different focus from my first four years of college.
  5. To some employers, a [master degree / master’s degree] is worth five or ten years of experience in the field.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

  1. Once I earned my master’s degree, I knew I was ready for a career in finance.
  2. A master’s degree looks great on your resume, but you don’t need one to apply for this opening.
  3. Jaime’s LinkedIn page says he earned a Master of Science from MIT.
  4. My master’s degree had a different focus from my first four years of college.
  5. To some employers, a master’s degree is worth five or ten years of experience in the field.

 

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