EDIT: I originally titled this "Master of Architecture student" or "Master of Architecture candidate"? My apologies if the question was unclear, I couldn't think of a better title at the time, I hope this title is clearer. I'm not asking the definition of "candidate" vs. "student". Despite being a less common usage, "candidate" is sometimes used to describe students who are working towards a degree.

My question is about achieving the correct formal tone and concision for the context: a business card. A full sentence seems inappropriate in such a context, and I'm hoping to avoid acronyms because they are typically meaningless to those outside the discipline.

I'm looking for the right, concise way to indicate current enrollment in multiple specific master's degree program on a business card. I sometimes see "candidate" used for master's students, but it seems much more common for PhD students. Does "candidate" denote something more specific than "student" in this context?

Furthermore, if one were enrolled simultaneously in two master's programs, would it be appropriate to combine the two into "Master of Architecture and City Planning student" or "Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning student"?

  • None of the last. It sounds like you already graduated the first of the two. Architecture and City Planning student, which would give you a master when you grafuate. I am currently studying for a M.Arch and a MCP
    – mplungjan
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 16:48
  • 1
    Have you looked up "candidate" in a dictionary before asking here? "Candidate" does not mean "student", although a student may be a candidate. Try looking here and here and here.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 17:05
  • @TrevorD Was that the downvote? I'm asking because despite the common definition, I've seen it used that way. Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 22:02
  • @TrevorD your third link notes one definition of candidate as: "a student studying for a degree" Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 22:18
  • Yes, I the time I wrote my previous comment your question said "Does "candidate" denote something more specific than "student" in this context?", which I read as suggesting that you thought "candidate" normally meant "student". So I answered that '"Candidate" does not [in general] mean "student", although [in certain circumstamces] a student may be a candidate.'
    – TrevorD
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 23:41

3 Answers 3


A candidate formally denotes "someone who is taking an examination," so saying someone is a master's candidate or a PhD candidate refers to a specific time in that student's academic career.

I had a co-worker who was pursuing master's degrees in mechanical engineering and in architecture, and phrased it just that way on his CV. So in your case:

Currently pursuing master's degrees in architecture and in city planning.

Or, more consisely:

Pursuing MArch and MCP degrees.

If you want something that fits on a business card, I would go with "MArch/MCP 2015" with whatever date is appropriate for you.

  • Why is everything being downvoted with no explanation? Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 22:03
  • Thanks @Gnawme, that's helpful but I'm hoping for something short enough that it would be appropriate for a business card in addition to a CV. A sentence seems like too much. Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 22:32
  • I've added a suggestion that would fit on a business card to my answer.
    – Gnawme
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 22:52
  • Thanks @Gnawme. I'll wait a while to see if anyone can think of a good way to eliminate the acronyms. If not, I'll accept your answer. Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 23:03
  • They're standard AIAS abbreviations. If you have room on the card, "Master of Architecture/Master of City Planning 2015" would work.
    – Gnawme
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 23:22

In my Ph.D. program, you didn't use candidate until you had passed your coursework and prelim (leaving you with just your research and dissertation). A candidate was therefore an indication that you were quite far along in your studies. We used student for the ones still taking classes.

So on a business card, put "Master's student" if you have not yet completed your required coursework and "Master's candidate" if you are writing your thesis and preparing to defend.

Unless a single degree will be conferred, you should use Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning to make sure that it is clear that these are two separate credentials.

Benjamin Golder
Master's candidate
City Planning

  • +1 great explanation of the possible issues with using "candidate", thanks. Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 0:31

I was advised by a neighbour, (who is on her 5th/6th degree or something), that the appropriate usage would be M.A.(C) or PH.D.(C). or M.B.A.(C) or ____(C). The bracketed "C" stands for "Candidate."

For a business card I like the short crispness of it. For a CV, a signature under your email, or any other bio, I would elaborate with phrasing that confirms that your degree is 'in progress', there are some great ways of doing so in other notes in this thread. Personally, I would not use (C) for a Bachelor's degree, and would restrict it to advanced degrees.

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