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The question asks it all really. When referring to a master's degree, do you use an apostrophe or not? That is, is it "a master's" or "a masters"?

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Relevant discussion at quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/… . One could cut the Gordian knot and say "Master degree"; we don't say "Ph.D.'s degree". – Theodore Norvell Sep 26 '14 at 13:58
up vote 20 down vote accepted

I always use "master's degree". Read the following article for more details:

Masters Degree or Master’s Degree? by Maeve Maddox

To answer this question, I’ve consulted the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, and some university dissertation guidelines.

Speaking generically, you would write master’s degree:

Jack has finally earned his master’s degree.

Speaking of a specific degree, you would capitalize Master:

He holds a Master of Fine Arts from State University.

When it comes to abbreviating academic degrees, you’d better check the style book that governs your work.

For example, here is what the guidelines say on the site of Ohio University:

Use periods when abbreviating academic degrees.
Ex. Dr. Bond received her A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. –Ohio University

Northeastern University, like the MLA guide, prefers to drop the periods:

Punctuating degrees: Do not include periods in degree abbreviations. [Ex. BS, BA, MA, PhD] The single exception is Hon. for Honorary. –Northeastern University

NOTE: Not all universities use the same abbreviations for the master’s degree:

Harvard University and the University of Chicago for instance, use A.M. and S.M. for their master’s degrees and MIT uses S.M. for its master of science degrees. Master of Science is often abbreviated MS or M.S. in the United States, and MSc or M.Sc. in ; Commonwealth nations and Europe. –Wikipedia

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If I ruled the world, it would be 'masters degree', which is what I suspect it will one day become without my intervention. – Barrie England Nov 20 '11 at 8:56
@BarrieEngland: You've already got the language named after you. ;-) – jvriesem Aug 25 '15 at 16:37

In my school, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, we use masters". That is the most correct one to use.

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Hi @Chioma! Were you trying to enclose masters in quotes as the OP had (i.e. "masters")? If so, you forgot the one in front of the word. Please edit your answer and include your source for this usage. – Kristina Lopez Mar 27 '13 at 18:09
@Chioma: Why is your school's convention the "most correct" convention? – jvriesem Aug 25 '15 at 16:36

protected by tchrist Aug 13 '14 at 19:53

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