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Elements of the ASU brand

Academic programs, degrees, courses and tests

The official source for the names of degrees is found in ASU Degree Search: undergraduate degree search or graduate degree and certificate search.

  • On first reference of a degree, use full wording. 
    • ✅ Do: He earned a master’s degree in mathematics in 2023.

      Exceptions: Degree abbreviations, such as BA or MS, are acceptable to use on first reference in the ASU Academic Catalog, in table format, when it is cumbersome to list many individuals with their degrees spelled out, or when dealing with character limits.

    • Always use the year the degree was earned with degree abbreviations: Add a comma after the name, the year, the degree and the major:

      • ✅ Do: Jane Smith, ’23 BA in anthropology.

      • ✅ Do: John Smith, ’22 MS in chemistry.

      • 🚫 Don't: Smith, ’23 in biology.

        Note: For numbers omitted at the beginning of a figure, such as years of graduation (Jane Smith ’23), an extra step may be needed to achieve an apostrophe. Microsoft Word and similar programs will interpret this punctuation as a single opening quotation mark, not an apostrophe. To override this, type a second single quotation mark after the first, then delete the first. 

  • On second reference, use the informal degree name. 

  • Always add “degree”: associate degree (not associate’s), bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate or doctoral degree. 

    • ✅ Do: She earned an associate degree in anthropology.

    • ✅ Do: He earned a bachelor’s degree in English.
    • ✅ Do: His master’s degree in chemistry helped him land his dream job.
    • 🚫 Don't: She earned a bachelor’s in engineering.
    • 🚫 Don't: She earned a BA in dance.
  • Capitalize only the official diploma and lowercase the degree concentration. 
    • ✅ Do: She earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry.
    • ✅ Do: In 2023, he earned a Master of Communication with a concentration in broadcast journalism.

      Exceptions include proper nouns: English, Spanish, American.
      • ✅ Do: He earned a Bachelor of Arts in American history in 2022.
  • In titles. See Titles.

Degree abbreviations

  • Omit periods in degree abbreviations (AP style variance): 
    • ✅ Do: BA, MS, PhD
    • 🚫 Don't: B.A., M.S., Ph.D.
  • Do not add PhD following ASU professors’ names. It is assumed that all ASU professors have doctoral degrees. 
  • Do not use Dr. to refer to individuals who hold nonmedical doctorate degrees or honorary doctorates. For those who hold medical degrees — such as a doctor of optometry or a doctor of podiatric medicine — do not continue the use of Dr. in subsequent references.
  • For dual-degree abbreviations, use a slash and do not abbreviate the area of concentration:
    • ✅ Do: MUEP/MA in sustainability.
  • For progressive degree programs, do not use a dash as a substitute for “to”: 
    • ✅ Do: RN to BSN.

See Abbreviations and acronyms.

Postgraduate degrees and certificates

Examples: postbaccalaureate, postdoctoral, postgraduate, post-master’s certificate

See Punctuation and symbols for specifics about prefix use guidelines.


Courses and classes

  • Lists of courses, such as in the ASU Academic Catalog, are shown in a vertical format, indented and without punctuation.
  • Place courses in alphanumeric order by prefix and course number, and place credit hours in parentheses.
  • Do not use bullet points or numbering.
  • For a general studies requirement, place the abbreviation between the course name or title and the credit hours. Use a comma and spacing as shown.
    • ✅ Do: ASU 101 The ASU Experience (1)
    • ✅ Do: ENG 101 First-year Composition, L (3)
    • ✅ Do: MAT 170 Precalculus (3)
    • ✅ Do: SOC 101 Introductory Sociology, SB (3)


Names of test sections, such as verbal or quantitative, are not capitalized.

Several of these practices are accepted style guide variances; e.g., abbreviations in parentheses following the full name.

ACT Use only the initials when referring to the previously designated American College Testing.
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Spell out with the initialism on first reference (ASU Writing Guide variance); ESOL thereafter.
GMAT Use only the initials when referring to the Graduate Management Admission Test.
GRE Use only the initials when referring to the Graduate Record Examination.
IELTS Use only the initials when referring to the International English Language Testing System.
LSAT Use only the initials when referring to the Law School Admission Test.
MCAT Use only the initials when referring to the Medical College Admission Test.
Miller Analogies Test Spell out.
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Spell out with the initialism on first reference (ASU Writing Guide variance); PTE thereafter.
SAT Use only the initials when referring to the previously designated Scholastic Aptitude Test or the Scholastic Assessment Test.
Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit and SPEAK Spell out on first reference; use the initialism thereafter.

🚫 Don't: Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK).
TEAS Use only the initials when referring to the Test of Essential Academic Skills.
Test of English as a Foreign Language and TOEFL Spell out on first reference; use the initialism thereafter.

🚫 Don't: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).