After years of hard work gaining experience in a particular field, you want to showcase your success in completing a Bachelor of Arts degree. There are many advantages to simply stating your graduate status after your name, and there are many opportunities to do so that can further your career or offer extra accolades when needed in professional correspondence. Knowing when and how to use postnominals, those little letters that follow behind someone’s name and/or title, can quickly showcase the breadth of your education and skill.
What are Postnominals?
You've put in the time, effort and hours to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree. This distinction shouldn't be left to gather dust in a frame on your wall. Including your Bachelor of Arts degree distinction after your name gives the reader immediate knowledge of your professional training in the field as well as your qualifications. Degrees from any recognized institution and membership to professional associations are appropriate to place behind your name on email signatures, cover letters, business cards and resumes and should be taken advantage of to propel your career and personal and professional connections.
Why use Postnominals?
Including an appellation after your name shows the extent of your education. It can elevate your professional status without having to list former and current employment or experience. A Bachelor of Arts distinction after your name reveals your advanced skills status quickly and succinctly when you're applying for a job, writing a cover letter or authoring a paper, among other professional endeavors. If you have any other distinctions, such as certification or affiliation with an association, you should tack those on to your title as well.
How to use Postnominals or Appellations
There's a bit of order to correctly place your Bachelor of Arts or other distinction behind your name. First, put your qualification abbreviation with no punctuation, such as John Smith BA. If you want to include honors, it would read John Smith BA (Hons). Remember to capitalize the H and contain the distinction in parenthesis. If you've gained quite a lot of experience, you can include any and all associations, honors or awards that are easily recognizable, separated by commas, such as John Smith BA (Hons), CPA, CFP, CFE. (That's Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner and Certified Fraud Examiner, respectively.) If you want to include the university or institution after your name, it can be done in italics, such as John Smith BA (Hons), CPA, CFP, CFE, University of Southern California.
- Generally, the highest degree earned is placed after a signature. For example, if you have a Master's of Science you would write M.S. instead of B.S. If you have a doctorate, use the Ph.D. designation instead of M.A. or B.A.
- On resumes or curriculum vitae all educational experience is listed, starting with associate's degree followed by bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctorate.
- In American Psychological Association style, omit the periods after the "B" and the "A" when using the acronym after your name.
- It can be considered fraudulent to claim to have a degree that you don't have or that you didn't receive from an accredited institution.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.