Section Title

Brand Standards

Style Guide: Abbreviations and Acronyms

Information and usage were taken from a variety of sources, including The Chicago Manual of StyleThe Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, and a collection of U-M school and college style guides.

Overview

Abbreviations and acronyms should be restricted to situations where they enhance comprehension: e.g., when your copy refers repeatedly to a lengthy name or term that has a commonly accepted abbreviation. Be aware that familiarity with most abbreviations and acronyms is context sensitive and field dependent. Does NASA refer to the Native American Student Association or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration? Remember that shorthand familiar to specialists in a given field (or to longtime university employees) could confuse non-specialists, non-university readers and new employees.

U-M has a significant amount of acronyms. To find buildings or locations, please visit the acronym decoder.

Degrees

The general trend is to omit periods from abbreviations, including academic degrees.

When the abbreviation of a degree might be unfamiliar to an audience, we recommend using a generic degree (such as BA, BS, MA, PhD, MBA) along with the subcategory spelled out, or spelling out the entire degree. When it’s clear from the context that the degree is a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, you may omit the level of degree and just provide the field abbreviation in parentheses, (see graduation year with degree).

Note: When spelling out degrees, use lowercase: bachelor of science, master of business administration, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate.

Abbreviations of UM-Ann Arbor degrees

  Short Name Formal Name
  B.F.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts
  B.F.A.Des Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design)
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.F.A. Master of Fine Arts
  Short Name Formal Name
  B.S. Bachelor of Science
  M.Arch Master of Architecture
  M.S. Master of Science
  M.U.D. Master of Urban Design
  M.U.P. Master of Urban Planning
  Arch.D. Doctor of Architecture
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  Short Name Formal Name
  B.B.A. Bachelor of Business Administration
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.Acc. Master of Accounting
  M.B.A. Master of Business Administration
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Short Name Formal Name
  M.S. Master of Science
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  D.D.S. Doctor of Dental Surgery
  Short Name Formal Name
  B.S. Bachelor of Science
  Cert.Dent. Certificate of Specialization in Dental Hygiene
  Short Name Formal Name
  A.B.Ed. Bachelor of Arts Education
  B.S.Ed. Bachelor of Science Education
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.S. Master of Science
  Ed.D. Doctor of Education
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Ed.S. Specialist in Education
  Short Name Formal Name
  B.S. Bachelor of Science in Engineering
  B.S.AOSS Bachelor of Science in Atmospheric, Oceanic & Sp S
  B.S.E.Aero Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Aerospace E
  B.S.E.B.E. Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Biomedical E
  B.S.E.C.S. Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Computer Sci
  B.S.E.Ch E Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Chemical Eng
  B.S.E.Civ Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Civil Engin
  B.S.E.CivE Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Civil & Env
  B.S.E.Comp Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Computer Eng
  B.S.E.E.P. Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Eng Physics
  B.S.E.E.S. Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Eng Science
  B.S.E.Elec Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Electrical E
  B.S.E.Env. Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences Eng
  B.S.E.ESSE Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Earth Sys Sc
  B.S.E.I.O. Bachelor of Science in Engineering Indust & Oper
  B.S.E.M.M. Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Mat & Met E
  B.S.E.M.S. Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Mat Sci & En
  B.S.E.Mech Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Mechan Engin
  B.S.E.Met Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Meteorology
  B.S.E.N.E. Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Nuclear Eng
  B.S.E.Nav Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Nav Ar & M E
  B.S.E.NERS Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Nuc E & Rad S
  B.S.Meteor Bachelor of Science in Meteorology
  B.S.P.O. Bachelor of Science in Physical Oceanography
  M. Eng. Master of Engineering
  M.S. Master of Science
  M.S.E. Master of Science in Engineering
  D.Eng.Mfg. Doctor of Engineering in Manufacturing
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Aero.E. Aerospace Engineer
  I.&Op.E. Industrial and Operations Engineer
  Nav. Arch. Naval Architect
  Nuc. E. Nuclear Engineer
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  Cert.Adv.S. Certificate of Advanced Studies in Engineering
  Short Name Formal Name
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.I.L.S. Master of Information and Library Studies
  M.S.I. Master of Science in Information
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Short Name Formal Name
  A.B. Bachelor of Arts
  B.S. Bachelor of Science
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.S. Master of Science
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  Short Name Formal Name
  LL.M. Master of Laws
  M.C.L. Master of Comparative Law
  S.J.D. Doctor of the Science of Law
  J.D. Juris Doctor
  Short Name Formal Name
  A.B. Bachelor of Arts
  B.G.S. Bachelor in General Studies
  B.S. Bachelor of Science
  B.S.Chem Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.F.A. Master of Fine Arts
  M.S. Master of Science
  M.M.P. Master of Museum Practice
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Cert.Prg.C. Certificate of Program Completion
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  Short Name Formal Name
  A.B. Bachelor of Arts
  B.S. Bachelor of Science
  B.S.Chem. Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
  Short Name Formal Name
  M.S. Master of Science
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  M.D. Doctor of Medicine
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  Short Name Formal Name
  B.D.A. Bachelor of Dance Arts
  B.F.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts
  B.Mus Bachelor of Music
  B.Mus.A. Bachelor of Musical Arts
  B.S. Bachelor of Science
  B.T.A. Bachelor of Theatre Arts
  BFA.Mus.Tht. B.F.A. (Music Theatre)
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.F.A. Master of Fine Arts
  M.Mus. Master of Music
  A.Mus.D. Doctor of Musical Arts
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  S.M. Specialist in Music
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  Short Name Formal Name
  B.S. Bachelor of Science
  M.L.Arch. Master of Landscape Architecture
  M.S. Master of Science
  M.F. Master of Forestry
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  Short Name Formal Name
  B.S.N. Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  M.S. Master of Science
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Short Name Formal Name
  B.S. Bachelor of Science
  M.S. Master of Science
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Pharm.D. Doctor of Pharmacy
  Short Name Formal Name
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.H.S.A. Master of Health Services Administration
  M.P.H. Master of Public Health
  M.S. Master of Science
  Dr.P.H. Doctor of Public Health
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Cert.Comp Certificate of Academic Competencies
  Short Name Formal Name
  M.P.A. Master of Public Administration
  M.P.P. Master of Public Policy
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  A.B. Bachelor of Arts
  Short Name Formal Name
  A.M. Master of Arts
  M.R.P. Master of Regional Planning
  M.S. Master of Science
  M.S.E. Master of Science in Engineering
  M.S.I. Master of Science in Information
  Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
  Cert.Grad. Certificate of Graduate Studies
  Short Name Formal Name
  M.S.W. Master of Social Work
  Cert.Comm. Certificate in Jewish Communal Service & Judaic St
  Cert.Aging Certificate of Specialization in Aging
  Cert.Mgt. Certificate of Management

Graduation year with degree

When including a graduation or expected graduation year with a degree, abbreviate the year with an apostrophe and include a space between the year and the degree. Be sure to use an apostrophe (’63) and not a single open quote mark (‘63).

  • Vijay Patel (BGS ’84) will return to U-M this fall as a first-year student at Michigan Law.
  • Ann McCarthy (BFA ’72, MBA ’80) will establish a scholarship for students majoring in fine arts.

Plurals of abbreviations and acronyms

Form the plurals of abbreviations and acronyms by adding 's' alone (no apostrophe).

  • All of the department’s MAs, PhDs, and GSIs spent several hours at the seminar.

University of Michigan

For external audiences, spell out the complete name the first time you refer to it, unless the context and nature of the document require an abbreviation (e.g., in an advertisement). Note the use of hyphens in both the long and abbreviated forms.

  • the University of Michigan
  • the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (hyphen)
  • the University of Michigan-Dearborn (hyphen)
  • the University of Michigan-Flint (hyphen)

Unless it is the first word in a sentence or part of an official title, 'the' should not be capitalized in running text.

  • John attends the University of Michigan.
  • NOT John attends The University of Michigan.

Abbreviations for the University of Michigan and its campuses.

  • U-M (hyphen)
  • UM-Ann Arbor (hyphen)
  • UM-Dearborn (hyphen)
  • UM-Flint (hyphen)

Note the elimination of the hyphen from the abbreviated form when a campus designation is used: UM-Dearborn, NOT U-M-Dearborn. Although U-M is usually pronounced “U of M” when spoken, this abbreviation should not be used in written text.

Use of the article “the” is optional with the abbreviated form of the university name:

  • John attends the U-M.
  • John attends U-M.

Because it can cause confusion with the state of Michigan, avoid referring to U-M as “Michigan” unless the context is obvious. For example in this sentence: "Michigan donors can take advantage of a new tax law that allows deductions for charitable gift annuities," is it the university or the state of Michigan that is being referenced?