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Changing the name of your degree?


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I'm not sure if this is a standard practice, but I've noticed some students from a degree program will tweak the name of their degree. 

 

i.e. a PhD in Public Policy would become a PhD in Science and Technology Policy for someone who specialized in S&T policy while in school. Is this a legal/ethical/accepted practice? Do students often times tweak the actual name of their degree on their CVs if they specialized while in school? 

 

 

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I didn't know people did this, seems kind of foolish in my opinion.  If I saw someone tweaking their degree (because you often have to show evidence of a degree at some point when being hired), I'd wonder what other things they tweak in their CV or resume that can't be proven.  Also some places do a quick search of your degree, and it may flag up as a degree that isn't listed as part of the institution you claim.  I just feel like its going to bring up more questions than is necessary, your projects and involvements in your degree as well as your expertise should speak to your specialized skill set.

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I wonder about this sometimes. I don't know what to use for my Canadian Masters degree. My degree itself simply says "Master of Science". The department name was "Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy" so that is the title on my thesis too. But it's very common for Canadian departments to offer more than one degree program! So, I usually write "MSc. Astronomy" on my CV because that's the main work I did. However, I also took many physics courses and astronomy is a subset of Physics so I sometimes write my degree as "MSc. Physics & Astronomy". I never use "Engineering Physics" in the name because I didn't do anything related to that field.

 

Overall, I agree that you should use the name that is on the official record (either diploma or transcript). I am only flexible with my Canadian MSc degree name because there is no official specific name!

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I would say it's better to just specify after. Say the official name of the degree, and then under, be more specific. For example, say PhD in Public Policy, then Emphasis in Science and Technology Policy, or something like that. On my resume, my degree is just a Bachelor of Science, with no mention of it being in math, and I add that after.

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For example, I often times see doctoral programs listing certain areas of research or concentrations with a disclaimer reading "or design your own concentration with approval of your faculty mentor" that leads me to believe maybe it's ok to change your degree title. 

 

It makes sense on surface that you should probably tell people the degree that you actually got, but I can easily see how students may worry about being weeded out during the initial job scan - particularly for fields that have career tracks outside of academia. i.e. a Public Policy masters degree student writing "Environmental Policy" because that's the track he pursued. 

 

Look here - a student can pursue a degree in biological engineering with specializations in biomedical or environmental..but does that make it a biomedical engineering degree? At this institution, there is also a BS in environmental engineering degree program. Confusing..

 

http://www.engineering.uga.edu/bs-biological-engineering

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Look here - a student can pursue a degree in biological engineering with specializations in biomedical or environmental..but does that make it a biomedical engineering degree? At this institution, there is also a BS in environmental engineering degree program. Confusing..

 

 

 

 

In that example I'd still call it a Biological Engineering degree. Presumably for a Biomedical Engineering degree you would have to meet a (different) set of core course requirements - the core requirements are what allow you to take a earn degree title. If you didn't meet the core requirements for a BME degree, I don't think it is appropriate for you to list having one on your CV. 

 

Americans can do the whole "joint degrees" and major/minor nonsense, so I don't think there would be any problem with putting the additional info on your resume.

 

Technically, what I have is a Chemistry degree from an international university. But I met the core course requirements for a more specialised degree title 'Medicinal & Biological Chemistry' (which is the name on my academic transcript). I feel it is OK to list my degree as 'Chemistry' on my CV, provided I also talk about the fact that I specialised in medicinal & biological chem. But it wouldn't be OK for me to list my degree as 'Organic Chemistry', because even though I did a lot of organic chem at uni, I didn't officially specialise in it according to course regulations...

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Also some places do a quick search of your degree, and it may flag up as a degree that isn't listed as part of the institution you claim.  I just feel like its going to bring up more questions than is necessary...

 

As a follow up question to this that is somewhat on topic: my undergrad institution recently renamed my undergraduate major, so it is now under a different name than what is printed on my transcript. When interviewing, updating my resume, etc. is this something I should be noting?

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As a follow up question to this that is somewhat on topic: my undergrad institution recently renamed my undergraduate major, so it is now under a different name than what is printed on my transcript. When interviewing, updating my resume, etc. is this something I should be noting?

If you're worried about it, I would just put <Your degree title> (now <new degree title>) or something.

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I think that it is probably ok to shorten the name of your degree. For example, the major listed on my undergrad transcript is Natural Sciences: Environmental Biology. I only put the Environmental Biology when referring to my degree. Similarly, in the above-mentioned example of Physics, Engineering Physics, & Astronomy, I think it's ok to shorten it to Astronomy or Physics. Also, if your program has concentrations or specializations in some area, and it is specifically noted on your transcript (e.g. majoring in Biology with a specialization in Wildlife Biology), then I think it would probably be ok to list the specialization as your degree. So in the example in the OP's post, if the student's transcript had a notation on it that they specialized or followed a track in Science and Technology policy, then I think it would be ok to put that as their degree. However, if they merely took courses in science and technology policy (but there is no official specialization offered by the school), then I don't think that it is appropriate to list it as their degree.

 

@TakeruK... I'm curious about why you use your department's name as your degree name. I was under the impression that all degrees are Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, etc. (and the physical degree you receive states only this), but when you refer to what your degree is in, you put your major/program. For example, my undergrad department was Natural Sciences and Mathematics, but there were about 12 different majors to choose from within the program, ranging from Wildlife Biology to Geology to Math Education. My actual degree says Bachelor of Science, and my transcript says my degree is a B.S. and then lists my major, minors, and honors. Do Canadian universities not work the same way and only list your department rather than your major program?

 

@JBurns1028... I wouldn't worry about the renaming of your program. As far as I know, the school shouldn't change the name of the program on your transcript, so you would still have a degree in X, even though they changed the name to Y in the most recent catalog. Something somewhat similar happened with my degree. After I graduated, they actually changed the requirements for my degree (Environmental Bio) so I would now not actually meet the requirements for the degree. However, they also added a degree in Wildlife Biology, and it is almost identical to the requirements for my degree under the old catalog and I meet all of the requirements. So in a way, my program has been renamed to Wildlife Bio.

 

Personally, I think that if you want to list the areas you specialized in, you should just put the name of your degree and then list important areas of study.

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What I list on my cv for my British MSc degree doesn't exactly match what's on my transcript, but no one has ever had a problem with this. I did my degree in the Basketweaving department, so even though my transcript only says Ancient Designs with no mention of Basketweaving other than in the course codes, I write it on my cv as "MSc Basketweaving: Ancient Designs". 

 

I think only listing the specific programme name and not the department is a strange British custom, though, and since I generally use my cv in American/Canadian contexts, it's simpler to make it match all my other educational entries and specify the department.

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@TakeruK... I'm curious about why you use your department's name as your degree name. I was under the impression that all degrees are Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, etc. (and the physical degree you receive states only this), but when you refer to what your degree is in, you put your major/program. For example, my undergrad department was Natural Sciences and Mathematics, but there were about 12 different majors to choose from within the program, ranging from Wildlife Biology to Geology to Math Education. My actual degree says Bachelor of Science, and my transcript says my degree is a B.S. and then lists my major, minors, and honors. Do Canadian universities not work the same way and only list your department rather than your major program?

 

Yes, you are right--the degree I got from my undergrad school is "Bachelor of Science". And, indeed, you would list your major/program instead of your department name when you refer to what your degree was in. We do not use department name in place of this, so in my BSc example, I would actually write "Bachelor of Science (Honours): Physics and Astronomy" as my degree program. However, my department name is "Physics and Astronomy" (which is conveniently the same) and our degrees are granted through our department, therefore, my undergrad honours thesis title page says "Thesis submitted to fulfill partial requirements in the Department of Physics and Astronomy". My diploma itself says "BSc (Hons.): Physics and Astronomy". I think this case is simple and I always call this degree a "Physics and Astronomy" degree on my CV.

 

However, for my Masters degree, there was no official name for my program. I was just a Masters student in the department of "Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy". So, as above, since the department administers the program, my thesis title page says "...fulfill requirements in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy". However, my diploma simply states "Master of Science" with no program name listed. So this is a little more confusing for me and I feel that I can call this degree "Physics", "Astronomy" or "Physics and Astronomy" because both Physics and Astronomy masters students in this program have the same requirements.

 

After all this, I think I agree with the posters that suggest we just say "BSc, MSc, MA, PhD" etc. and then just use a descriptor line/phrase. Then you can describe your degree in any way you want without worrying about using the "official name". e.g.

 

2010, Bachelor of Science (Honours), University X

Thesis title: blah blah blah

Minor in blah blah (if necessary)

 

This way, you can imply your field of specialization simply from your thesis work since in almost all cases, the actual degree name does not matter. This might especially be helpful if for some weird reason, you have a strange degree name (I know some people with official degree titles in the Arts/Humanities but actually did courses following a Physics program because of weird bureaucratic issues).

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My PhD isn't in Public Policy but what actually could happen is similar to that situation. Let's say that my department was Public Policy but I did science & technology while other people focused on education, ethics, or lobbying. We all technically have the same degree. At least in my field, we would all list "Public Policy" (or our equivalent) on our CV and then specify what we did as needed. But, I've been in a huge interdisciplinary field for several years now and we are proud of our breadth (apples, oranges, bananas, and walnuts are all welcome).

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