I no longer feel comfortable with my master's degree (Master of Divinity). Especially for theologists, the title of education should not be racially problematic (calling myself a master might make others feel like slaves). I don't need the MDiv for my job, so I am reaching out for having my degree invalidated.

Now, if I want to have the term "Master of Divinity" changed to a more welcoming title, where would I start? Is there a committee responsible for these titles? Let's assume this applies to the US first, before going global.

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    Close voters: The question is clearly answerable, even if you think it's wrongheaded. – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 29 '20 at 21:15
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    Please note, the question is about how to get an academic degree renamed. For discussion on whether this particular renaming is necessary (or other topics), please use the chat. – cag51 Sep 29 '20 at 21:29
  • You cannot change the name of your degree. Even if you can get the University to change the designation, it would apply to future graduates of the degree. Imagine the confusion with the recognition of the degree if some arranged to retroactively have a different designation.. . – ZeroTheHero Sep 30 '20 at 1:23
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    You can be a Bachelor, even if you're married. – henning -- reinstate Monica Sep 30 '20 at 6:27

No, generally speaking, degrees cannot and won't be renamed after you've received them. While it would be fine to not use the title in day-to-day life (e.g. an email signature), most people would consider it inappropriate to leave it off a resume or CV. Degrees are only revoked when you did something fraudulent to obtain it.

You also cannot rename it (in formal contexts) as the comments suggest, e.g. to "MSc in Theology." You shouldn't insert things like "of Science" or "of Arts" where they don't belong in any context, though.

As far as your specific objection, I don't think it's anything you have to worry about, and I say that as someone pretty far to the left.

If you truly did want to remove "master" from all degrees, you would have to talk to 1) your university and 2) the accrediting body for theological degrees. I cannot imagine you would be very successful.

  • ‘’You also cannot rename it as the comments suggest (e.g. to "MSc in Theology") although that wouldn't seem to fix your problem anyway.‘’ Surely not on a CV, but I do not see any problem in doing that in everyday's life, if the concern is not making people feeling ‘‘inferior’’. – NearIR Sep 29 '20 at 21:15
  • @neutroshock Fair enough, that's what I meant to imply. I would say though that claiming to have a "Masters of Science in Theology" when you have a "Master of Divinity" is stretching too far, and doesn't fix the OP's objections – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 29 '20 at 21:19
  • @Azor Ahai, sure, changing the title into Master in ‘something else’ would not address the problem, as the issue is with the master word. – NearIR Sep 29 '20 at 21:28
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    It’s clear. In my first comments I thought the problem was with ‘divinity’. – NearIR Sep 29 '20 at 21:39
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    @Don'twannaMDiv The usage of "master" in GitHub is much closer to the master/slave sense than "master of science" or "master of nursing" or "master of ceremonies." If the divinity degree was "master of the flock" then I think your objection would make more sense. "Master" certainly doesn't imply there is a slave. – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 29 '20 at 23:36

You should keep in mind that the “master/slave” dynamic is not inherently racist, particularly as it is applied to a graduate degree. You can definitely view the word “master” as racist if you try to and spin it to fit that type of narrative if you feel like, but most seeing that you have a “masters” degree, will not presume that you’re a racist or that you are racially insensitive for achieving a masters degree.

Nevertheless, you’d need to speak with the institution that awarded you the degree and they would, I imagine, have to put out a statement of some kind to apply it to all degrees awarded in the past and future. While I understand you feel a certain way, you should bare in mind that it’s really just not a big deal for an overwhelming majority of people. If you do want to appease a small margin of people though, I wish you luck on your journey.

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    FYI you "bear in mind" – Azor Ahai -him- Sep 29 '20 at 21:04
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    "really just not a big deal for an overwhelming majority of people" - if you have a scientific study on that, I'd greatly appreciate reading it – Don't wanna MDiv Sep 29 '20 at 21:21
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    Shouldn't the person asking that everyone's degree be renamed be providing the "scientific study"? – Raghu Parthasarathy Sep 29 '20 at 21:27
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    @RaghuParthasarathy: as I commented elsewhere: I'll provide reasoning, i.e. potentially including a study. – Don't wanna MDiv Sep 29 '20 at 21:34
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    Magister, Magistri (masc.) / Magistra, magistrae (fem.): noun, 2nd declension. Teacher, tutor, master, expert, chief. Note ‘expert’ among them. In fact, your title states that you’re expert in your field. Without any slavery implications. – NearIR Sep 29 '20 at 22:45

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