It's come up in our lab that we should probably have business cards for when we attend conferences, however, we've been given very little guidance for what is appropriate for a graduate student.

Some questions that have come up:

  1. Should we be trying to standardize the cards to look like the official university's cards? (e.g., with the university logo, etc)?
  2. Related to the first question, should we be going for standardized or for something that will make us stand out?
  3. Should we be putting our current status on the card? It seems like if we haven't hit ABD yet then it might be counterproductive because then we'd have to buy new ones each time we made progress.
  4. Should we be adding our research interests directly on the card? What about advisor?
  5. Any other information (other than contact/website) that we should be including or tips on this?
  • 2
    What is "ABD" ?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 16:18
  • 2
    My advice (not specific to academia, hence not an answer per se): clear, minimalistic, stylish. Also: one-sided, because it's very useful to be able to write extra information on the back: either your cell phone (if not already on it), or a subtle reminder of why you left them your card “XYZ analysis technique”, … The information you need is: name, title, position, affiliation (and logo!), email, website, maybe cell phone. Nothing more.
    – F'x
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 16:36
  • 4
    @gerrit, "All but dissertation", a US-specific acronym, from what I know.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 17:30
  • 1
    What's a "business card"? I don't think I've seen the object that used to go by that name in 20 years.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 4:39
  • 5
    @JeffE: Like so much, it's CS (and math?) versus the rest of the world. . . .
    – aeismail
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 9:58

3 Answers 3


I would standardize them and simply put the most relevant information on them. My (dated) business card looks like this:

enter image description here

Now I think it has a little bit more information than needed; fax is almost certainly not needed, but there might be circumstances where it's handy to have the mailing address. But important are:

  • University + department
  • Academic homepage
  • E-mail address
  • Perhaps phone number
  • The fact that you're a PhD student.

I wouldn't add too much information on them. Business cards are for core info, nothing more; they might get crowded otherwise.

My own business card is outdated: a university reform means I'm no longer at the Department of Space Science, but at the Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Division of Space Technology. But I don't care, because the e-mail address is still correct, and the new department/division wouldn't even fit on a business card ;)

  • 1
    Strange that you are Dr Holl and a PhD student. Studying for another doctorate, are you? Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 16:24
  • 9
    Perhaps that's one additional piece of advice: avoid errors in business card. Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 16:25
  • 3
    Fax number, really? (In fact, even the phone number seems a reach to me, unless it's a cell phone number. The snail mail address, too… have often does someone need to send you postal mail?)
    – F'x
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 16:33
  • 4
    @gerrit if I listened to my university, I'd also list the fax number, phone number of lab manager, international emergency contact information, instructions of use, list of ingredients, choking hazard warning, … My point is: don't.
    – F'x
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 16:40
  • 2
    Regarding the snail-mail address, I'm at a different campus than the main university, and we tend to be invisible, so we like to make clear that we are actually 350 km away from the main place. Not sure if it's very clear, but alas.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 17:05

You should check with your University's communications/pr department before printing up anything that reflects the institution's trademarked materials but I think it sounds like a pretty good idea. You just want to make sure that you don't step into any legal quagmires. Anytime that you produce collateral that associates you to an organization you can get into dangerous territory. For example- if you hand out your Awesome U. business cards at a pro/anti whatever rally, then you associating that activity with the institution. Obviously, they have reason to control such materials.

This sounds especially for nice for full time students that are attending conferences and the like.

Alternatively you could have personal business cards that say what ever you want and just say "Grad Student". I'd check first but that seems like a reasonable compromise.


Everywhere I have worked so far, there have been standard templates from the University for how their business cards should look, so I've simply used those, ordered through the University press.

My titles have been:

Project Assistant (during my undergrad)

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter / Research Assistant (during my PhD studies)

Postdoctoral Scholar

Scientific Officer


and everything else has been dictated by the University graphical manual and policies.

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