Please consider the following sentence:

  1. The institution awards degrees including bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees.

I know that the sentence above is grammatically correct, but I don't like the repetition of the word "degree(s)".

So I'm looking for an alternative with the exact same meaning. Here's what I was thinking of using instead:

  1. The institution awards degrees including bachelor's, master's, and doctorate.

Is this second version grammatically correct? Does it "sound" right?

2 Answers 2


There are two aspects I can see here:

  1. Abbreviating "bachelor's degree" to "bachelor's"

  2. Creating a list while omitting repeated words


It is very common to abbreviate both "bachelor's degree" to "bachelor's" and "master's degree" to "master's", but it is informal. I don't know whether you're looking for formal or informal phrasing.

The phrase "doctoral degree" is new to me. The word "doctorate" I recognise but I don't think of it as as a sort of degree; therefore including it in a list of degrees seems strange. A quick google shows that this is a lack of knowledge on my part, or possibly it's just not phrasing used at universities myself and my friends have attended.


It is common when listing different adjectives with a repeated noun to just put the noun at the end. For example: "I bought red, green and yellow peppers for my salad".

In your example this would be "bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees." However, this doesn't remove the awkwardness in your situation, because you still have the word "degrees" twice in your full sentence: "The institution awards degrees including bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees."

How I'd word it

I'd either put it all into one clause rather than two separate clauses:

"The institution awards bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees."

or I'd use a synonym for the first instance of "degrees":

"The institution awards qualifications including bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees."


A university gives bachelor degrees, i.e. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Sciences, Bachelor of Engineering. Note that it's 'bachelor' -- no s and certainly never apostrophe s ('s). It also gives PhD (doctor of philosophy) degrees and master degrees. So your sentence should be "The institution awards bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. They're awarding degrees -- not bachelors etc. You could also write "... awards bachelors, masters and doctorates." Leave out "degrees". Definitely no apostrophe, because it's plural, not possessive.

  • 3
    Thanks, but it actually is a possessive: quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/… My question isn't about the apostrophe, but about whether or not "bachelor's degree" can be shortened to just "bachelor's" in this context.
    – manocormen
    Commented Mar 4, 2018 at 14:34
  • 1
    It's not a possessive. The bachelor degree, like the master degree, isn't a possessive. It's the kind of degree, not who owns it. So also a nursing degree, not a nurse's degree, a doctorate degree not a doctor's degree, and so on. A university awards degrees at the bachelor, master and doctor levels. Yeah, I know. This is picayune, but correct. Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 18:29
  • 2
    Every source I can find online says it's a possessive and that just writing "bachelor" is always incorrect: wmich.edu/writing/rules/degrees bachelorsdegreecenter.org/bachelors-vs-bachelors grammarly.com/blog/masters-degree jhsph.edu/news/style_manual/d.html
    – manocormen
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 8:59
  • @SeymourHamilton Can you provide a source of it being called a bachelor degree when not qualified with something like "of Art"? Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 22:43
  • 2
    The style guides (1, 2) I've checked have all said it is "bachelor's degree" and "Bachelor of Arts". Maybe you're getting confused with "associate degree" (which isn't possessive).
    – Laurel
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 1:33

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