I have seen some of the PhD holders sign as "Dr. [First Name] [Surname], PhD".

Is it academically correct to write "Dr. Frank Amoani Arthur, PhD"?

  • 20
    Are you in Germany? If not you can do whatever you want. – Cape Code Oct 8 '16 at 5:42
  • 3
    In addition, "Dr. X Y, PhD" would be correct if the person actually holds two different doctoral degrees: a Dr. and a PhD. – lighthouse keeper Oct 8 '16 at 6:51
  • 1
    I would like to add that in some fields and (sub)cultures, adding the ", PhD" bit after your name may seem unnecessarily pretentious. – Gimelist Oct 8 '16 at 8:01
  • 1
    It certainly depends on the usage context. In a job talk title slide, naming the degree seems justified, while in a conference talk or in a twitter profile, it would look pretentious. – lighthouse keeper Oct 8 '16 at 8:09
  • Have a look at this answer. – Bob Brown Aug 1 '18 at 10:41

There are two important points to note about name markers that refer to academic titles:

  1. You can have more than one of these markers in your name: Kay Doe, PhD, MD indicates a person who is both a doctor of philosophy and a doctor of medicine.
  2. The marker Dr. can very often be used as a variant of the post-positioned markers. If both of them are equivalent markers in your country, you can choose either marker to refer to your academic title.

These two observations make the suggested name form Dr. Kay Doe, PhD rather ambiguous.

Does it refer to a person with two doctor titles because there are two markers? Or do both markers refer to just one doctor title? But if so, why is that doctor referred to twice in one name? This may even lead to suspicion: Does the name bearer use two markers which refer to the same title with the intention to sound more impressive than their academic distinction actually warrants?

This ambiguity is avoided if you use only one title marker per title.


I'm sure this must have been dealt with in previous questions, but the short answer is:

This is correct if you are both a medical doctor and an academic doctor. But just being an academic allows you to write Dr. (name) XOR (name) PhD.

  • 11
    This is not universally true. – Cape Code Oct 8 '16 at 7:23

In the US, at least the title doctor doesn't imply a medical doctor, though it includes that. My students would usually refer to me as Dr. Buffy. Someone not knowing that I hold a doctorate might call me Mr. Buffy, but Dr. Buffy is more specific.

If I wish to list my degrees after my name they aren't being used a title like Dr. or Ms.

So, being pedantic: Dr. Buffy, BA, MA, PhD. is just fine. In Germany, and places with a related academic culture, degrees are used more as titles so it is a bit different: Herr Doctor Professor Buffy.

Medical doctors (again in the US) insist on being called Doctor and have no difficulty with Dr. Foobar, MD. It would be extremely uncommon for them to be listed any other way.

  • 4
    "Herr Professor Doctor", actually. – Oleg Lobachev Aug 1 '18 at 15:07
  • Yes, Herr Student @OlegLobachev. Kidding of course. Thanks. In the US we would garble it, of course. As I did. I listed them in the order I did because of the order I earned them. I was Doktor before I was professor. – Buffy Aug 1 '18 at 15:12
  • 2
    There is a story of a quite famous mathematician (a professor) who was living with one of his students in a "romantic" relationship. He once is said to have informed her that she didn't need to refer to him with all of his titles as long as they were in private. Apocryphal? You judge. – Buffy Aug 1 '18 at 15:15
  • There's a reason why physicians are Dr. Foo, M.D. The Dr. part is for public appearances, so patients perceive that they're authoritative. The M.D. part is required by regulation in some places like hospitals and medical schools, as to disambiguate Ph.D., D.O., D.D.S./D.M.D., O.D., D.V.M. etc. which all have different rights/requirements when interacting with patients. My major US institution sticks both (Dr. Foo Bar, PhD) on everybody's e-mails and ID cards and computer accounts, even for non-medical people. – user71659 Aug 2 '18 at 7:02

Dr Jones if he has a medical degree. Mark Jones, Ph.D. or Dr. Jones, if he has a Ph.D. Never Dr. Jones, Ph. D.

  • 4
    What if a PhD who is also a medical doctor? I think "Never" is too strong a word. – scaaahu Aug 1 '18 at 6:34
  • 5
    @scaaahu Mark Jones, MD, PhD. – Nicole Hamilton Aug 1 '18 at 9:38
  • 1
    @NicoleHamilton That's a good one. – scaaahu Aug 1 '18 at 9:45
  • My major US university puts "Dr. Jones PhD" on everybody's ID cards, e-mails, computer accounts, directory, etc. It's because the medical school and hospital have all kinds of "Dr." running around and they need to make it easy to identify what responsibilities you have. – user71659 Aug 2 '18 at 7:07

If you have Dr. NAME only it might cause some confusion. I was once caught in a situation where I was asked to be on standby for assistance during a medical emergency because my boarding pass identified me as Dr. MYNAME. I had to explain that the Dr was for a PhD and not for medical practises. In my opinion the academic the title should be Dr. LASTNAME or Dr. LASTNAME M.D. for a medical practitioner Dr, LASTNAME PhD for an academic qualification Dr. LASTNAME HC for an honorary doctorate (honororium causa)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.