Is this correct to call my self "Doctor of engineering CANDIDATE" on my business card?
If it's not improper, what should I use instead of doctorate candidate?

I'm a college student in master's course and will graduate this summer, then go on to a doctoral course.
So, I'll become the student who has master's degree and also become the student who tries to work toward a doctorate's degree.
I will have business cards available after entering the doctorate course.

*This is my first time to have business cards available.
*I was looking for many same questions, but anything didn't fit my background.

  • 6
    I do believe that the term "candidate" is reserved for students who've passed the candidacy exam, or qualifying exam, which is usually held in the second year in the US.
    – Drecate
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 9:15
  • 1
    @Drecate Not so straightforward, according to this.
    – GoodDeeds
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 9:22
  • 1
    Strongly related: Business cards for graduate students.
    – Nobody
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 9:23
  • 3
    @GoodDeeds The OP is not even in PhD program yet.
    – Nobody
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 9:26
  • 3
    I think one should use the title achieved.
    – Alchimista
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 11:10

3 Answers 3


Before graduating with an MA (and assuming the BE is a requirement for your current program):

Emma, B.E.

graduate student at University X, program Y

After graduating:

Emma, M.E.

After acceptance into the PhD program:

Emma, M.E.

PhD student at University X, program Y

The exact titles (e.g. M.E. or MA) depend on country and institution.

By the way, I've maybe used four business cards in the last ten years, and I probably might as well not have. (It's nice to read your name on a piece of high-quality cardboard, though.)

  • I've used more business cards (in academic context, e.g. by leaving them with my poster when away, even if there is a QR code with the content of the business card on the poster ;-) - in business context: many more, I guess that's why they're called business cards). One institution had cardboard sheets with the institute logo pre-printed, on which we'd print our contact data in small batches of 10 pieces. IMHO, that was a good compromise. Personally, I would rather put my group/department on the card than PhD program. Personally, I don't see the point of specifying whether one is PhD student
    – cbeleites
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 13:29
  • ... or works in that group as professional with no intention to go for a PhD. Professional is professional. But that may be quite culture-dependent (where I am, one can enlist for a PhD rather short notice, basically even just before handing in the thesis, so you'd anyways have a certain amount of people whom one would call PhD students but who are officially researchers working in their profession).
    – cbeleites
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 13:33
  • 1
    @cbeleitesunhappywithSX That's a good point. When I was a PhD student, my position would read "wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter" (roughly "research associate") rather than "Doktorand" (PhD student). I guess I would have left out the "Doktorand" even if I hadn't been employed as "wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter". Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 14:58
  • @henning -- reinstate Monica, thank you for your kind and clear answer. I'm not sure about the meaning of "after acceptance into the PhD program." Do you mean students who passed an exam for entering the PhD program? I will use my business cards after entering the program, so I think I should use the 3rd one.
    – Emma
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 10:02
  • @Emma for me, acceptance just meant a successful application with a research proposal, we didn't have entry exams. What acceptance means in your case might be different. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 11:16

Do not put anything relating to the PhD until you have started studying for it. Do not put anything for the masters until you have been awarded it.

Once you have started studying for the PhD you could reasonably put "PhD student" or (in my view, a few disagree) "PhD researcher". "Doctoral candidate" can mean different things in different places, and may imply that you're about to finish.


I suggest not bothering with business cards, they seem rather antiquated to me. (Unless your culture, or your country of residence's culture, uses them as common practise.)

I've observed, and personally experienced, (potential) recipients declining cards in favour of a LinkedIn/Twitter connection, which seems far more valuable. I can't think of a scenario where a PhD student would benefit from business cards over a digital connection. (Post-PhD scenarios may arise.)

Nonetheless, if you do decide to have business cards, you can list your highest degree and your job title, e.g.,

Emma, MSc

Doctorate candidate, Department, University

(Where Doctorate candidate is the title used by your university.)

  • 1
    They are important because sometimes you meet people from cultures where they are important. This happens all over the world. Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 5:32
  • 1
    @AnonymousPhysicist Indeed, they are important to some cultures, as noted.
    – user2768
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 15:46

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