How to Write Master's Degree and Bachelor's Degree

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
How do you write "master's degree" and "bachelor's degree"?

The terms "master's degree" and "bachelor's degree" are written in lowercase and with an apostrophe before s. For example:
  • I have a master's degree.
When referring to a degree by its name or describing a person as a master or bachelor, use title case. For example:
  • She has a Bachelor of Arts degree.
  • (Note that "degree" is not capitalized.)
  • I am on the Master of Science course.
  • The Bachelor of Chemistry curriculum is now online.
  • He is a Bachelor of Physics.
masters bachelors degree capital letters apostrophe

How Do You Write "Master's Degree" and "Bachelor's Degree"?

When used generically (and not part of a title as above), the terms master's degree and bachelor's degree are written in lowercase and with an apostrophe before the s (showing singular possession). For example:
  • John has a master's degree.
  • Peter has completed his master's degree in Law.
  • (Note: Academic subjects (here, Law) are written with capital letters.)
  • My bachelor's degree is in English Literature.

Why Is the Apostrophe before the s in "Master's Degree" and "Bachelor's Degree"?

The apostrophe is before the s in "master's" and "bachelor's" because the degree is considered "a degree of a master" (i.e., one master) or "a degree of a bachelor" (i.e., one bachelor). Similarly, cow's milk (which is clearly not from a single cow) is considered "milk of a cow." Therefore:
  • master's degree , masters' degree , masters degree
  • bachelor's degree , bachelor's degree , bachelor's degree
Read more about apostrophe placement with possessive nouns.

Why Are "Master's Degree" and "Bachelor's Degree" Written in Lowercase?

The terms "master's degree" and "bachelor's degree" are common nouns. A common noun is a word used for a class of person, place, or thing (e.g., policeman, city, dog). A common noun is written with a lowercase letter. A common noun contrasts with a proper noun, which is the name used for a specific person, place, or thing (e.g., Simon, London, Rover). A proper noun is written with an uppercase letter.

Read more about lowercase and uppercase letters with common and proper nouns.

Degrees As Titles

When referring to a degree by its name or describing a person as a master or bachelor, the term is written in title case. This applies when referring to the faculty (e.g., Arts, Science) or the field (e.g., Engineering, Physics). When referenced in this way, the degree is considered a proper noun (which is why it is capitalized). For example:
  • I have a Bachelor of Science degree.
  • I am on the Master of Arts course.
  • The Bachelor of Chemistry curriculum looks tough.
  • He is a Master of Engineering.
  • She claimed to be a Bachelor of Physics.

Don't Capitalize a Term Because It's "Important"

This is a general warning. Do not capitalize a word or a term just because it seems important.
  • You can read reviews from our Clients in our Brochure.
  • (Here, "Clients" and "Brochure" should have lowercase letters.)
  • She has a Bachelor's Degree.
  • (Here, "Bachelor's Degree" should have lowercase letters.)
Read more about capital letters with proper nouns and common nouns.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

Apostrophes to show possession The apostrophe error with plurals Apostrophes in time (temporal) expressions Apostrophes replace letters Apostrophes to show the plural of abbreviations