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Editorial Standards



Academic Degrees

Academic degrees are capitalized only in specific references (Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy, etc.). They are not capitalized in general references (bachelor's, master's, doctorate). The word "degree" is not capitalized.


  • His objective is a Bachelor of Arts in History.
  • The University offers several master's degree programs.
  • One of these is the Master of Public Administration.
  • She received her master's in public administration, but she is undecided about her doctorate. 

Capitalize degrees when they are referred to by initials: B.S., M.A., Ph.D. Use periods with no space in between. When using these abbreviations with a name, follow the name with a comma and then the abbreviation. Note: Exception is MBA, but use M.P.A., M.S.W.

Example: John A. Smith, Ph.D.

Building Names

Building names are capitalized.


  • Miles D. McCarthy Hall or McCarthy Hall
  • William B. Langsdorf Hall or Langsdorf Hall

Abbreviate building names only in tables, on maps and in other formats where there is a shortage of space. The proper form for building abbreviation is the building’s initials, capitalized without periods or spaces in between. Visual Arts is VA, McCarthy Hall is MH, Humanities-Social Sciences is H, etc. Room designations with an abbreviation take the following form: H-213, MH-238, etc. Informal building names are not capitalized.

Example: The Office of Admissions is located in the administration building. 

Class Level

Class level references are not capitalized except when referring to the formal name of a group.


  • A group of seniors was disciplined for hazing freshmen.
  • The Senior Class donated a gift of $50,000 to the university.

Convocation and Commencement

Uppercase when referring to the name of the event (Convocation 2025 or Commencement 2025). Lowercase in all other uses.


  • The president gave his annual convocation address.
  • This year’s commencement speaker is Linda Woolverton.

Departments and Colleges

Departments and colleges are capitalized only if the reference is specific.


  • Some colleges have many departments.
  • The Department of Psychology is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Derivatives should not be capitalized.


  • The College of Business and Economics is often referred to as the college of business.
  • The Student Wellness Center is commonly known as the health center.

References to disciplines such as art, accounting, geography and engineering are capitalized only when referring to a specific department or course or in specific reference to a degree. Disciplines derived from proper nouns (French, German, Spanish, etc.) are always capitalized.


  • They are studying geography.
  • The Department of Geography offers many courses.
  • One of these is Geography 101.
  • She earned a B.A. in History or a Bachelor of Arts in History.

Disciplines derived from proper nouns (French, German, Spanish, etc.) are always capitalized.


Directions are not capitalized if they refer to a compass direction. They should be capitalized, however, if they refer to a region, are part of a proper name or denote a widely known section of a city or state.

Examples: Professor Smith's move east took him as far as the Midwest where his Southern California customs were the source of much amusement. He continued east and settled in the Lower East Side of New York City but missed his home in southern San Dimas. He moved west to the familiarity of his beloved West Coast. He now takes vacations only in the West and frequently tours the western United States. 

When in doubt, use the lowercase.


Nationalities, peoples, races and tribes are capitalized.

Examples: American, Chicano, Arab, Caucasian, Apache.

Seasons and Semesters

Seasons and semesters are not capitalized.

Example: We are looking forward to summer vacation after the spring semester.

State and Federal

"State" is not capitalized. "Federal" is capitalized as part of corporate or governmental bodies that use the word as part of their formal names. Lowercase it when it is used as an adjective to distinguish something from state, county, city, town or private entities.


  • The people of the state of California.
  • Dr. Jones received a federal grant.
  • The Federal Communications Commission has awarded several grants.


Titles are capitalized only when they precede a person's name.


  • President John J. Johnson; John J. Johnson, president of the university.
  • Dean Erminda Jones; Erminda Jones, dean of the College of Business and Economics.
  • The proposal presented by the college deans and department chairs is subject to approval by the president.


When using an academic degree in a title, do not use both Dr. and Ph.D.

Example: Dr. James Smith or James Smith, Ph.D., but not Dr. James Smith, Ph.D.


Per AP Style, lowercase "university" when it refers to California State University, Fullerton.