I was wondering whether it is a good practice for someone to emphasize that he obtained his degree from a prestigious university by including the name of his university always after his title, something like:

Name, PhD (Caltech)

I have seen this in few occasions, but felt that it could be a bit offending to someone. Is this a discouraged behavior?

  • 4
    When is it even necessary to state your highest degree, except on your CV or department webpage? In very formal communication then Dr. or Professor should suffice. Anything more could easily (depending on context) come off as pretentious.
    – Moriarty
    Mar 20, 2014 at 8:11
  • 2
    Depends on your location. In Europe this style is rather unusual and may raise some eyebrows. However, many of my friends in the US state their title exactly like that, so I would assume that it is at least not offending or uncommon. That being said, I would assume the vast majority of people couldn't care less one way or the other :)
    – xLeitix
    Mar 20, 2014 at 8:37
  • @Moriarty In an email signature for example... So it all depends on the context I suppose.
    – hat
    Mar 20, 2014 at 10:07
  • 1
    Not really offensive to me, but it jump started my sympathetic engine and I want to know more about what kind of hardship this dude had to endure in order to get into Caltech. If I am going to meet someone who does this, I'll tread very carefully not to hurt his ego. Mar 21, 2014 at 12:36
  • I think this form is really only appropriate if you obtained a PhD from an Ivy League university. Dec 18, 2016 at 2:20

3 Answers 3


It could be taken to mean that your PhD from CalTech was a high point of your career and you want to make sure people know that. Depending on the context, that may be a bad or good thing. At a CalTech alumni meeting, it could be very good.

  • 2
    I would never have made this interpretation. Mar 20, 2014 at 9:01
  1. It would definitely look odd and like you are trying too much. It's really not appropriate to push it in correspondence. Leave that for your resume or CV.

  2. While it's mildly good to have gone to CIT (or the equivalent), realize there are weak performers within that group as well. What really matters is all your Science/Nature/PRL/JAMA/etc. publications. Oh...and puleeze don't list them in your signature!

Personally, I wouldn't even do the comma Ph.D. game. There is a correlation of those who are most proud of the Ph.D. (and showing it) being the weaker performers during the Ph.D. If you're a badass, you don't have to mention it. And it's no big deal to have gotten the "union card". (What matters more is how you did there.)

In most academic/science interactions, it will just be expected that you have a Ph.D. regardless (no big deal). In most other external interactions, it's irrelevant. Perhaps there are a few places (like selling consulting) where you might want to emphasize it. Yet even here I definitely get a "too proud of it, therefore probably weak (or even sketchy)" vibe when I see people who emphasize the title.


Within your field, it's probably more important to emphasise who your supervisor(s) were during your PhD. At least in the UK, the prestige of the university is less important at that level than the prestige of the other academics you worked with (and, of course, the quality of your research). In any case, it would be odd to see it in an email signature. I'd read it as (slightly desperate) bragging.

One related point is that people who have undergraduate degrees from Oxford or Cambridge may receive an MA rather than a BA under certain circumstances. These people might list their first degree as "MA (Oxon.)" or "MA (Cantab.)", listing the university to distinguish it from a "real" Masters degree (and possibly to do a little bragging of their own).

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