Assuming someone has a PhD, MD, CISSP, CPA, CFA, MS, etc. etc. What's the proper way to order them after their name and is the comma needed after the last name? (i.e. Jane Smith, PhD, MD, etc. or John Smith MD, PhD, etc.)

  • Why the down vote?
    – Michael
    Apr 27 '17 at 20:38
  • Comma following depends on what comes next.
    – GEdgar
    Apr 27 '17 at 20:41
  • 11
    "John Smith" or maybe "John Smith, badass"
    – JeffE
    May 28 '17 at 1:48
  • What context are you writing out their name?
    – Malady
    Oct 26 '18 at 2:10

Questions over titling are almost always a matter of local convention and personal preference. You can read more than you wanted to know over at Wikipedia:


A few rules of thumb:

  • If you're naming someone in a friendly context then your biggest concern is usually etiquette rather than technical correctness. If someone insists on being called "Jane Doe, PhD, MD" rather than "Jane Doe, MD, PhD" then it would be incredibly rude to object to them. Most people would not care, but if in doubt you should ask.

  • If you're establishing the credibility of someone, such as in a piece of journalism, then you list only relevant degrees starting with the highest degree. Even if multiple degrees are relevant it's likely that one degree will be most relevant.

  • If you follow the cite note for US degrees in the Wikipedia link above, you'll eventually get to this page, in which a protocol expert says that this is the appropriate order, with ties within each category being broken alphabetically:

    1) Religious orders
    2) Theological degrees
    3) Academic degrees
    4) Honorary degrees, honors, decorations
    5) Professional licenses, certifications & affiliations
  • Don't list degrees that have been superseded by another degree. That is, don't say "John Doe, PhD, MS, BS" because the MS and BS degrees have been eclipsed by the PhD.

  • That all said, "MD, PhD" is the typical order; and not all master's or bachelor's degrees are superseded by the next degree. I know a physician who goes with "MD, MS" although I have no idea what the MS is in. May 21 '19 at 17:05

Don't list degrees that have been superseded by another degree. That is, don't say "John Doe, PhD, MS, BS" because the MS and BS degrees have been eclipsed by the PhD.

This suggestion by David may be a reasonable one in many contexts, particularly where you want to give a succinct summary of the expertise of the person. However, there are some contexts where it is appropriate to list all the tertiary qualifications of a person, even if some are undergraduate degrees that are eclipsed by higher degrees in the same field. For example, some staff pages for academics list all the degrees held by those academics, even though the undergraduate degrees are usually eclipsed by a PhD. This is often useful because it allows the reader to see the educational progression of that person, how they started their tertiary education, and where it led.

  • The question seems to be specifically about listing titles immediately after a name, not about listing degrees on a CV or a webpage. May 21 '19 at 15:41

I don't think there's a clear consensus on this (the best guide I can find on the subject is the AMA Manual of Style, though they suggest personal choice determines the primary order) but it's usually something like

Firstname Lastname, MD, PhD, ABC, XYZ

where ABC and XYZ may be professional affiliations or specialized degrees like MPH.

See also the Chicago Manual of Style, though they don't really specify one consistent order.


My understanding is that two degrees may be listed if they are in different disciplines, even though in one discipline a degree may be lower in status. e.g. PhD, MPH where the PhD is in psychology and the MPH is in public health.

How else would one establish credentials in both fields.

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