Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Should I put "MBA" in my title, on my business card, etc...?

Over the course of my career, I've held jobs at fortune 500 companies, investment banks and small firms. Every now and then, I've come across people who make the huge mistake of using the MBA designation in their title.

For example, I'll get the occasional email with a signature in it, or see a business card or a "Linked-In" profile that reads like this:

John X. Smith, MBA
Accounts Payable Reconciliation Manager
Phone: 555-555-5555

This usage is absolutely wrong and it is one of my pet peeves. You can be proud that you have an MBA, but do me a favor- never use it in your title. The first thing I think when I see something like this (and it is almost always true) is that John X. Smith got an MBA at night school at a community college or on the Internet and has never worked in a professional setting before. Presenting yourself like this instantly brands you as a neophyte and if you make mistakes in things as minor (though admittedly subtle) as this, who is going to trust you with major responsibilities? The MBA is not a professional designation like a PhD or an MD. If you put MBA after your name, it just looks like you're trying too hard to impress people.

If you don't want to take my word for it, take a look at this piece in the Wall Street Journal, entitled "Why you should leave "MBA" off your card".
I've also seen this issue come up on Linked-In pages and it is usuall people in the IT field or something. I hate to pick on people, but check out this page [Actually, I had a link to a page with someone using MBA in their title, but this page has since been removed. I'm having second thoughts about picking on people in particular, so I'm not going to replace it. You can easily find it by just doing a search for "Joe Smith, MBA" on Google] I just did a totally random search to find someone using MBA in their title on linked-in and found this person. Looking at their education, I see it took them four years (most likely night school) to get an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology which almost perfectly fits my above thesis.

In closing, unless you really want to grind my gears, NEVER use "MBA," "M.B.A," "Master of Business Administration" etc... in your title. Feel free to mention that you have an MBA in your resume, or in your corporate bio etc... but don't use it as a part of your title or you end up looking unprofessional.

And while I'm on the topic, don't EVER call yourself "an MBA." This profile on LinkedIn is a good example of someone I would never want to work with. First of all, the person seems pretty psycho about LinkedIn and lists himself as a "networking king." Second of all, he uses MBA in his title. Third, he calls himself an MBA, writing "As an MBA with 7+ years of corporate experience..." I'm stopping right there.

Moral of the story: you have an MBA degree, you're not a doctor. Keep it in the background and let your work prove your worth.

By the way, no offense at all meant towards someone who got an MBA at night school at a community college. I don't care where you got your degree. In fact, I don't even care if you have a degree if you're an honest, intelligent person who does good work. I've just noticed a correlation between night school or internet MBAs and the use of "MBA" in their title.

I encourage you to read all of the comments below and decide for yourself.

EDIT 11/19/2010: I've come around in my thinking since writing this original post, thanks to many of the comments below. In the majority of circumstances, I still think you should not use MBA in your title or on your business card. however, some people have told me that in certain industries/companies, the business card is used as a "mini-resume." I can't verify this as I have never seen it or worked in any of these industries, but if this is indeed the case, I'm less against it than I would otherwise be. I still get annoyed when other people with MBA degrees walk around saying "I'm an MBA" and expect people to bow down to their greatness.

Let your work and your attitude prove your worth. Don't just lean on a title.


BillyOceansEleven said...

LOL! I completely agree and it drives me up a wall! It makes me thankful that the firm I work for has a policy against putting designations on business cards. It is mainly because we are an accounting firm and using "CPA" opens up a big can of worms if you are working in a state where you aren't licensed as such, but this is a nice perk.

The other thing that drives me nuts is people using junk designations. If you had to take a real test and have professional experience, that's fine. But there are some that have requirements like "certify you have 6 months professional experience and send us a check" which are totally bogus. CSoxP is one I saw recently. These things are like the diploma mills of the professional world.

Anonymous said...

Horseshit. What bad advise you give. MBA is a proper designator and you are your personal opinion does not over write facts. My pet peeve are people who don't have these degrees or certifications telling those that do how to use them "on their business card" or anywhere else. What really gets me are bloggers.

MoneyMan said...

I'm happy to see somebody like billy agree with me. His comment is thoughtful and well written. His blog is also a good read. (And I'm a fan of the Billy Ocean movies)

I'm also happy to have anonymous disagree with me, for obvious reasons.

In response to billy: I agree with your diploma mills comment. I see things like that all the time and I just laugh them off. And I can see putting CPA on your card in some cases.

In response to anonymous... I do have that degree and if you read the WSJ piece I linked to you'll see that its not just my "personal opinion." (While we're on the subject- is there such thing as an impersonal opinion?) Also, I'm sorry that bloggers really get you. We don't mean to bother you.

Anonymous said...

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Dear Annie: What is the protocol for listing one's credentials on e-mail signatures, business cards, etc.? I have an MBA and am a CPA, yet today my boss sniped at me in a meeting for listing these things on my e-mail signoff and business card. He has a Ph.D., and he asked me, "Oh, now I'm going to start putting that on my card?" I was nonplussed, since many other people here use the same professional designations without this kind of ridicule. What is going on? --Puzzled

Dear Puzzled: Hmm. Your boss is exceedingly modest. Most Ph.D.s not only note the designation on their cards but also like to be addressed as "Doctor," which seems fair enough after all those years of study. "It is customary to list one's credentials on one's card and e-mail signoff, although MBAs do it somewhat less than CPAs do," says Jacqueline Whitmore, founder and director of an executive-etiquette training firm called the Protocol School of Palm Beach ( "Your boss really should include his Ph.D. on his card and e-mail signoff as well. For him to make fun of you for this--well, there must be something else going on." Indeed. I hate to break this to you, but it seems pretty clear that your boss dislikes you for some reason that has nothing to do with this at all. And since he is the CEO, you might be wise to figure out what it is about you that bugs him--or else start job hunting.

Anonymous said...

I think you really need to go with the flow of what people are doing in your company/industry. In pharma, it is very commonplace to use MBA in your title. It sets you apart from people who only do an undergraduate degree. Most people in pharma come through sales and get ahead by having a big mouth. An MBA in the title shows that you aren't just another salesman who BS'd their way up the food chain. That being said, I do find it is a bit pretentious, but if it is accepted in your company, why not promote yourself, too? As far your citations from college Career Advisor departments, I don't think they carry much weight. If there is someone you shouldn't listen to, it is the tools in the career advisory department who don't know what real work is.

Josh Namm said...

Well I was all ready to feel offended. I earned my M.B.A. through a fully accredited school that has an online program. As I am sure you know, many legitimate schools now have online programs in various fields. So it is not like people who earn their degrees online have "internet degrees" or went to correspondence school. However, and you should fully appreciate this,I used to work at the school that I attended. It used to infuriate me that everyone with a Masters put initials after their titles. Even in their email signatures. It was a joke. I started signing my email with the initials "B.A." after my name. This did not go over well. But I have to tell you, I finished my degree literally with the completion of my final paper about 15 minutes ago. I found your page because I was trying to find out if it is expected, or proper to put "M.B.A." after my name on my resume. So while it is slightly disappointing that I do not get to use it in that one place, I completely agree that it is supremely annoying when people use it everywhere. Also-"an MBA"? I have always wondered about that. It never made sense.

Anonymous said...

"It sets you apart from people who only do an undergraduate degree."

Let your work "set you apart."

MBA should N E V E R be used in your signature of an email or on your business card....... T A C K Y!!!!

Anonymous said...

How can you criticise an anonymous comment, when you write a blog veiled by anonymity yourself?

Anonymous said...

Pretty lame arguments here. I guess you all get angry at seeing physicians put MD at the end of their name then. After all, that MD might've been earned at an offshore school which takes in anybody that has a pulse.

MoneyMan said...

Re: pretty lame comments... No I think MD is a perfectly appropriate thing to put on your business card. I don't know enough about MDs to know if you can get one at an offshore school. I assume that everybody goes through a pretty rigorous process to become a doctor.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHA The LinkedIn "King of networking" is now the "Mother Teresa of Networking". That has to be a joke because what professional would take that douchebag seriously after reading his profile?

Anonymous said...

No F you guys - After 5 years / $100k+ of fees - I have attained my master degree and will be using Joe Smith MBA *(Not my real name) on business cards. Not likely to use it on email - Nor likely to sign letter with it - But in the context of my business card - A reflection of my business credential and a tool in communication - MBA rest assured and bet your ass. If you don't like it - Then do the work and attain the grade. As for the night-school / internet mills etc - whatever, the MBA designation is not an attribute in isolation - i.e, If you hold an Instutution MBA it's going to be worth telling the world and let it be known by your professional contacts if you paid $200 for a bogus online degree then puttin MBA on your card just makes you look like a chump because I guarantee you WILL be asked about your experiences in the MBA. What is the papermill kiddie going to say? "Oh... No it was really cool - I didn't have to study or anything, I just paid $200 and they emailed me an degree and now I'm an MBA" ??? C'mon - Give people more credit - Use MBA on your card if you have work hard and earned it - If not, I agree with the author - Better not to brag, you ain't got much to brag about!

Anonymous said...

I'm almost done with my MBA and searched to see if it is appropriate to include MBA on a business card. Everyone should calm down about this - if you agree, great; if not, don't worry.

I'm appreciative of everyone's opinion on this matter. For what it's worth, I'll leave it off of the business card. Although some don't mind, others view it negatively. I'll let my work speak for me and go the route that irritates the fewest people.

As people with MBAs we obviously realize the worth of marketing ourselves, but overkill is possible. If you're giving someone your card, I'm sure you can fit it into a conversation at some point, so don't worry about not getting credit for your work(though don't try too hard to squeeze it into a conversation).

Anonymous said...

Money Man probabally has a G.E.D.

MoneyMan said...

This post has definitely generated a lot of healthy debate. I appreciate all of the comments, especially from those who respectfully disagreed with me. (Didn't really appreciate the disrespectful comments but I published them anyway). Just wanted to respond to a few...

To the anonymous person who wrote "In pharma, it is very commonplace to use MBA in your title," I have never worked in the Pharma industry but if it is really accepted practice and well respected executives in the industry use MBA on their business cards (not just a handful of low-level workers), then I would say go ahead and put it on because it is the industry standard. Thanks for your comment. I also laughed and could not agree more with your comment about "If there is someone you shouldn't listen to, it is the tools in the career advisory department who don't know what real work is."

By the way I don't criticize people for leaving "anonymous" comments. I was just using that to point out which comment I was responding to.

To the person who mentioned the "Mother Teresa of Networking"... I certainly wouldn't take that guy seriously either.

To the person who wrote "No F you guys - After 5 years / $100k+ of fees - I have attained my master degree and will be using Joe Smith MBA *(Not my real name) on business cards"... I advise you not to do this. By all means list your MBA degree on your resume where it belongs, but not on your business card. You have good reason to be proud of your degree, but it will be better for your professional image to leave it off of your business card.

In response to "Money Man probabally has a G.E.D."... thank you for taking the time to comment :)

My opinion remains unchanged. Leaving the MBA off of your business card shows more confidence and professionalism than putting it on. You should not put MBA on your business card.

Kevin Heinz said...

I use it all the time with my signature including business cards, emails, and professional correspondence.

As a successful business owner in the building maintenance industry, I believe that it helps convey the message to my customers and prospects that I have a solid professional foundation in business administration. Which, I think plays an important role in presenting a professional image to my customers.

I certainly don't find it be pretentious, egocentrical, nor inappropriate for my circumstances. From a business standpoint, I find it to be useful when customers or prospects use their credentials since it gives me some insight into their areas of expertise and interests. That information can be quite useful to know when selling products or services and establishing business relationships.

As to the value of an MBA, it has played
a vital role in preparing me to handle the ongoing challenges of managing a successful, growing business during good and bad economic times.

Stanka said...

U must be mad to write comment like this

Balajova, M.B.A.

Anonymous said...

Here's one for you..... What about CV's / resume's? Of course you are going to include it under your Education section, but what about as part of your name / title right up front? I was advised by an "expert" that you only have the first half a page of your resume to grab the readers attention, so leaving an appropriate qualification until the end of the document may miss the boat. At the moment at the top of my resume it says Joe Smith, MBA (yeah you guessed it, not my real name either). Is this an acceptable practice or is it considerd passe by the business cards snobs?

Genuine question by the way.

MoneyMan said...

I want to respond to the following question:

"Here's one for you..... What about CV's / resume's? Of course you are going to include it under your Education section, but what about as part of your name / title right up front?"

First of all, thank you very much for the question and it is a good one that I think adds to this discussion.

Now my answer: if you want to create a professional image, don't use MBA in your title.

I have reviewed hundreds of resumes when looking for people to hire and whenever I see one that says "John Smith, MBA" at the top, it creates a bad first impression. It makes me think that person is hanging their hat on the fact that they have an MBA degree and puts the same bad taste in my mouth that I mentioned in my original posting.

I've also found that those resumes are more likely to have other errors in them such as bad grammar, spelling errors, or bad punctuation.

One of my pet peeves is people who don't know when to use an apostrophe. "CV's" and "Resume's" are incorrect usages (You can argue with me here on CV since it is an abbreviation, but not on resume).

If you sent me a resume saying "John Smith, MBA" and used apostrophes wrong in your cover letter I am sorry but I would probably move your resume to the bottom of the pile. As harsh as it may sound, my thought process would be "if an MBA is such a great degree, how did you get one when you don't even know the basic rules of punctuation?"

That said, we are fortunate enough to live in a free country and you can do whatever you please on your resume. Just hope that your resume doesn't end up on my desk.

Sorry this response was a little more harsh than usual. I think your use of the term "snobs" in your question had something to do with that. It isn't a question of being a snob, its a question of being a professional.

Anonymous said...

The MBA is a professional degree and is considered the terminal degree for business. A PhD. is not required or necessary to obtain top management positions. Perhaps, just perhaps, seeing the MBA designation makes you feel a little small since you hold no such designation. The MBA designation does not mean you went to night school. Also, it does not mean you obtained it at a community college (junior colleges). Such institutions are not not accredited to grant Master's degrees. They typically hold an acceditation level I which means they are accredited to grant Associate degrees. There is not anything wrong with associate degrees or community colleges. A community college degree would be better than no degree at all. Anyone with any character at all would recognize that.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, I think you are incredibly naive, slightly OCD and indeed a snob but I appreciate your comments and enjoyed your blog in general, so keep up the good work.

MoneyMan said...

To clear up a question that seems to be coming up over and over again... yes, I have a MBA degree with a concentration in finance.

I don't list this on my email signature or on my business card. I let my work speak for itself. A degree is not relevant to me in the ordinary course of business. I don't care if the person I am working with has no formal education or a PHD from Harvard, I treat everyone the same. When applying for a job, educational background is often one of the criteria people use to screen candidates, therefore I do list the MBA in the education section of my resume.

I don't call myself "John Smith, MBA." I think that is a misuse of the degree and in general, the people who write their name like that tend to be less business savvy than those who don't.

You dont have to take my word for this. Read the Wall Street Journal article I linked to. Read the comments that disagree with my position (many are angry diatribes riddled with spelling/grammar mistakes, are these the people you want to take advice from?)

Finally, just look around you. Many CEOs of major corporations have MBA degrees, yet how many times have you seen someone like Warren Buffett list his title as "Warren Buffett, MBA?" Never.

Anonymous said...

What type of people are you all advising to one does have the right to put MBA on their credentials. It takes a lot of hard work to go through one!! It seems like the author makes no sense at all a petty loser!!

Donn Gilray said...

I know the article was written almost a year, ago, but the conversation still sounds fresh. I just completed my MBA at Univeristy of Texas at Dallas, and this article and references are exactly what I searched for. After having read the comments, I find the quality of the postings adding to the argument of not using MBA in the title. Nuff said.

Jon Fletcher said...

For what its worth.... I'm a second year MBA at the UofWisc-Whitewater and I plan on including the MBA designation on my business cards and on the top of my resume/CV at least until I land a job. In this economy, anything that will set you apart and create personal value is something that should be embraced and thoroughly considered. Once employed, I will probably keep the MBA on top of my CV but will more than likely replace my MBA designation with more appropriate job specific ones, such as CFA, CPA, etc.

I think that your decision to include MBA on your business card should be a personal decision. It undoubtedly will include factors such as the prestige of the university that you received the degree from, the amount of effort expended to recieve the degree, the relevancy of the degree to your current career field, and the impact that displaying such an earned degree will have on colleagues, customers, and senior level staff.

Edge said...

In any field, it's very useful to know what relevant qualifications a person holds. I expect my accountant to hold certain qualifications, likewise my lawyer, my physician or my tax advisor. Those qualifications give me faith in the person's abilities. The higher the level of qualification, the higher my expectations - and the more I expect to pay for that matter. In the business world, what degree could be more relevant than an MBA?

Since the majority of people out there don't hold any serious business qualification, it definitely sets one apart. Even just an undergrad degree holds some value - postgrad qualifications even more so.

As a small business owner, I know that including my qualifications on my business card gives new customers and business partners some confidence in my abilities - and therefore in my business. That certainly helps when you are trying to swing a big deal with a potential client.

It would be silly not to put your relevant qualifications on your business card. Marketing is important, after all. However, it should not form part of your title; that would make no sense at all.

bubcho said...

I also have an MBA degree and was totally against having it on my business card. However, from my point of view, it turns out that it actually matters a lot where you are. For instance, it seems like it's rather inappropriate for the US, but here in Austria it's more of a rule rather than a nice-to-have three-letter-word on your card. Austrians do appreciate that and value it highly, which I found rather strange to be honest, but eventually put the MBA on the card since everyone is doing it.

Anonymous said...

I have my MBA and I never use it on a email signature line. I find it to be tacky. It is not a title, license or certificate. I think it is appropriate for an RN, LPN, MD and even CPA's. I think a title to be used behind a name needs to be a license title that is required to practice, i.e. Pharm.d. All those who use "MBA" look very silly.

Anonymous said...

Hello All,

I found this thread to be very interesting – MoneyMan thanks for posting it. I have an MBA from a top school in the Boston area and obtained the degree, at night, while I was working full time. Based on several years of research that included talking to hiring managers, recruiters and others, here is my take.

Already working in a company? I was doing some consulting work for an Aerospace company. In the beginning, I did not put my MBA designation in the signature of my e-mail. After several months, I noticed that many folks within the company did. I asked around and found that in this particular company, it was expected that the designation is used in an e-mail signature. Therefore, I started to do as others did. Bottom line: if this is the norm, but all means use the designation in the e-mail signature. If it is not the norm, then don’t.

Are you looking for work? Do NOT put the designation next to your name on your resume. As MoneyMan stated some folks (hiring managers and recruiters) interpret this as a weak candidate. Again, this is based on research, not my own opinion. What I do is communicate that I am an MBA in the Summary section of the resume. Example: I have 8 years of Project Management experience, 16 years of technical experience and an MBA…

I would like everyone’s opinion on this. I am in between jobs and plan to use business cards to obtain opportunities. My specialty is Project Management / Consulting. I implement projects that create efficiencies and reduce costs. My plan is to set up meetings with Director-level management and if a meeting is not obtained, I would leave my business card. If a meeting is obtained, I would give a business card to the manager. Should my MBA designation be next to my name on a business card in these situations? The general understanding of the difference between a BS and an MBA is that a BS proves that you can learn, an MBA proves that you can solve problems. Any opinions would be appreciated.

Michael said...

Great topic, to start off I hold a BS in Mechanical Engineering UW-Platteville - ABET accred) and an MS in Operations Management (Kettering University). I don't put either in my title, I do however put CPE as I'm a Certified Plant Engineer and PMP as I'm a Certified Project Managment Professional. I'm also an EIT but have not tested for my PE yet. With all that said, I find it silly when people put MBA, MSOM or whatever designated degree they have on a card or signature line. I agree with letting your work speak for you. I've met too many engineers that don't what side of the wrench to hold and I'm sure that holds true for all industries. What I'm saying is that a degree doesn't mean you're smart, doesn't prove anything and doesn't mean you deserve respect. Better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and confirm it.

Jeremy - London said...

In response to the Anonymous posting on February 5, 2010 9:45 AM.

I Have also obtained my MBA during my working career via the Open University in the UK - I live in the UK.

It has taken me 5 years during which time I have changed roles got married and had children. I now manage a small company which would not have happened if I had not done the studies. So I completely agree that it shows you can resolve problems in the business environment.

I would suggest, especially here in the UK, that people are proud to have an MBA and most would have it on their cards. I work in London and my clients vary from small to medium sized organisation in the financial and services sector (sub £50m T.O.).

Perhaps in larger corporate organisations this is a less likely practice but I still feel and think that the achievement gives additional gravitas. So if putting MBA on my card - as I do - helps when doing my business - which it does - then I will continue to do so until proved otherwise.

I think all these comments are subjective and if you are influenced by other and not secure in your own beliefs, then be swayed either way. Me - I an conscious of what I fell, think and know, hence the choice to use it on my cards.

Andre M E Nel said...

MBA? "Master of Barely Anything"

As Truman once said: "It is what you learn after you know it all that really counts."

Anonymous said...


This article definitely attracted my attention this Sunday morning. Good read and great comments from everybody. Looks like we have a nice little debate going on here!

There seems to be many different ways to look at this issue depending on where you are located, the type of business you are in, where you are in your career path (just starting or accomplished and near retirement) among many other great points of view.

I completed an MBA last year from a prestigious Canadian university (cost me a little fortune too), I am under 30 years of age and I just got a promotion into a management position in my company. Really looking forward to the exhilarating challenge and employing what I have learned in school along with my judgement, personal experience and a healthy dosage of common sense ;) I am more of a people person.

After careful reflection I think I will not be using the MBA after my name. I really want my work and results to speak for themselves. I will however keep an open mind and bring this issue up for discussion with my direct report in order to see what are the best practices in my field with employees and clients.

Now let’s see if we can keep this discussion up for another year!


Anonymous said...


This article definitely attracted my attention this Sunday morning. Good read and great comments from everybody. Looks like we have a nice little debate going on here!

There seems to be many different ways to look at this issue depending on where you are located, the type of business you are in, where you are in your career path (just starting or accomplished and near retirement) among many other great points of view.

I completed an MBA last year from a prestigious Canadian university (cost me a little fortune too), I am under 30 years of age and I just got a promotion into a management position in my company. Really looking forward to the exhilarating challenge and employing what I have learned in school along with my judgement, personal experience and a healthy dosage of common sense ;) I am more of a people person.

After careful reflection I think I will not be using the MBA after my name. I really want my work and results to speak for themselves. I will however keep an open mind and bring this issue up for discussion with my direct report in order to see what are the best practices in my field with employees and clients.

Now let’s see if we can keep this discussion up for another year!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! My boss wanted me to put "MBA" after my name on my business cards, but I felt like it was a bit pretentious. Everyone's comments made the decision to leave it off a lot easier!

Anonymous said...

I think this is a personal choice. Just like there are people who don't like people writing their degrees with their names, there are others who respects that as well. So maybe this just serves to match up the right people to work together. I also don't understand why the author has such a big problem with people who advertise their degrees. Looks like the author spent time working on his MBA. So if it was not that valuable even to be mentioned, then why did he waste all that time? I am completing my MBA and I think I would like to work with someone who values the degrees they have earned. Not to say that degrees by itself will determine how good of a worker they would be, but it definitely tells me that he/she is capable of finishing something they started and that they are proud of it. But to weed of people just because they mention their hard earned degree with their name is more pretentious than using the degree in the name. Having said that I don't think people should use their degree on all occasions. But if you are trying to network for a job using your MBA degree, mention it. Why not?

Anonymous said...

I live in Canada where while the issue of academic inflation is very real, there is not an over abudance of individuals with graduate degrees.

In my region historical trends have caused serious hiring freezes over the past decade; as a result there is a huge age gap between indivuals such as myself (26) and the rest of the workforce(45+).

I sometimes feel that I should be putting my MA on my card as an early indicator to my colleagues that I do belong here, I can be used as a reference point for information, and that it is worth the time returning my emails.

Sometimes people forget the type of enviornment that we live in where people make judgements about your capabilities just by looking at your face. No I do not have 20 years experience to talk about before I list my MA, but that doesn't mean I am not qualified or haven't worked hard to get here.

In conclusion I still don't know what I'm going to do...

Anonymous said... least you aren't an being elitist douche by making these kinds of comments:

" an MBA at night school at a community college or on the Internet and has never worked in a professional setting before."

I earned an MBA from a "night school", although accredited, and I have done over $600mm of work on M&A for an investment bank. I consistently make contact with people who have been out of school for 20 years and they still rely on "where" they went to school vs. "what" they got from said school in terms of knowledge. 99% of the time, they are wonderful at theory but they refuse to get their hands dirty in a deal.

John said...

If you've taken an undergraduate or graduate level class, then you can relate to "it all depends". The dynamics of the situation dictate whether to use the MBA designation on a business card. I agree with others--never use it in an email. I use the comedian analogy. If I'm a comedian or funny, I will make you laugh. If I tell you I'm funny and fail to make you laugh, then I'm not funny. Leave MBA off your email and let your words/thoughts speak for themselves. On the other hand, put it on your business card because you may have had just a short exchange with the person. But then again, "it all depends".

Malachi said...

As a black man I was told by another consultant I should use it because of the stereotypes of black men, and this is what I do... I'm CEO

Anonymous said...

for a man in the middle east arabian region , I think I will keep it in my signature because of the same reason as the black man about the Arabic man , so this prove that Arab can do MBA's not only bombing :) in addition from my experiance Arab managers will aprise seeing the MBA in you email signature as a kind of confidance about your MBA

Anonymous said...

I'm accustomed to seeing educational credentials designated after the person's name from individuals working in academia, in email signatures. I automatically would expect to see those credentials appear on business cards as well. I simply see it as an honest disclosure of one's educational level and expertise. For example, being in healthcare, I would indicate my healthcare terminal degree designation as well as my MBA designation to indicate that besides being a healthcare professional, I've also been educated in business administration. I don't find it to be pretentious at all. On the contrary, if I didn't see the designation, I would automatically wonder why it was left out.

Though, I can see why Warren Buffet or a "C" executive from a Fortune 500 company wouldn't have to be recognized as having the MBA.

Anonymous said...

I work for an academic institution and it is expected that anything above a bachelor's level should be listed. I also agree that an MBA is a terminal degree for business administration.


Dr. Delaney Kirk said...

I get asked this question often by my MBA students. Here's my response:

Frank Suranyi said...

If you've earned an MBA use the designaton proudly on your business card. It sets you
apart from people who are pretentious "know-it-all" but don't
have the title which comes with a lot of hard work and academic achievent as proof. I've spent $25K and two years on post graduate studies 15 years ago and believe me
it has payed off big and opened many doors.
Don't let other peoples' envy influence your career.

Anonymous said...

Learn to spell - and learn grammar - then talk about advanced degrees - maybe you should proof read your work before you post - those with and MBA will see what I am refering to - all the best...

Anonymous said...

MBA is not a proper honorific. Leave it off. [And yes, I have one.]

Anonymous said...

I was looking for information on placing the MBA designation on email signatures or cards. I work in real estate development and there are not many MBA's. There are probably only a few at my company, which I recently found out. I was being recruited by a guy who had just started with the company and a letter was sent around stating that he would be heading a division and that he would be graduating soon with an MBA. At that time I had been with the company 4 years and came in with an MBA. I never use the designation on anything except my resume in the body. Later when I applied for a higher position I was told by my boss that he didn't know that I had an MBA. The new guy saw me at lunch and was surprised that I was an MBA and stated that he was looking for other MBA's in the company to recruit to help him.

Anonymous said...

As the debate rages on, I'm leaning more towards the "do what's right for your situation," point of view.

An individual should definitely leave the ", MBA" off if they have a wealth of experience, work for a prestigious company, and have no beneficial need to prove credentials when handing over contact information.

However, an individual should probably consider using the title if there are observable benefits. In some situations, a business card actually acts as a small resume. You wouldn't want to omit your education in one of these scenarios.

Consider Case #1: There is currently a big push in the construction/engineering industry to construct buildings in a more environmentally friendly manner. The USGBCA's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is quickly becoming the industry standard. Many engineers use the following title, "Firstname Lastname, PE, LEED AP" in order to show their design qualifications are up to the required standards. Now, to become LEED AP certified is a breeze compared to an MBA program, but the title is important for situation.

Now, consider case #2: It can argued that a law degree is one of the most valuable degrees available. However, lawyers do not use titles. If one is seeking legal advice, they expect the lawyer to be credentialed. You want better legal advise? Go to a more prestigious law firm, and be prepared to pay for both the education & the experience that they have to offer.

Finally, case 3: The Doctor. I personally do not see many doctors handing out business cards, but they do use the MD title under professional circumstances(as they should.) It is simply the practiced industry standard to show qualifications.

Back to the MBA... do what's right for you.

Nobody wants to come across as "unprofessional" in a professional world, so get a feel for your particular industry and do what you feel is right. There is obviously no correct answer to this debate, but there probably is a correct answer regarding your particular situation.

MoneyMan said...

Wow! All of the comments on this topic are great. Sincere thanks to everybody for contributing your two cents.

In fact, some of those who have argued against my opinion have been pretty convincing. (Most recently, the comment that begins "As the debate rages on...").

I've realized that the situations I've worked in have all been in a particular finance context and people who use MBA on their business cards have stuck out like a sore, unprofessional thumb. I am now learning that in other industries where I haven't worked (eg. construction or small consulting firms), the card might act as more of a mini-resume and using MBA might be appropriate in some limited circumstances. I still lean against it, but not as hard as I have before.

This is what I think blogging is all about, getting a healthy range of viewpoints on a topic many people are interested in.

By the way, I have the ability to moderate comments and I want to assure you that I've posted all comments that disagree with my opinion as well as those that agree. The only ones I have rejected have been spam links that I didn't want to subject you to.

I always get a kick out of the people that attack me in the comments.

Most recently I enjoyed this one: "Learn to spell - and learn grammar - then talk about advanced degrees - maybe you should proof read your work before you post - those with and MBA will see what I am refering to - all the best..."

I'd like to respond to that person by saying thanks for commenting and noting that "proofread" is one word. :)

I have indeed noticed some grammatical errors in my posts over time and I apologize to my readers for those. I hope they haven't been too distracting.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

As a Columbia GSB alum. No one from a top business school puts "MBA" on his/her title or business card.

Then again, everyone from McKinsey or GS has a top MBA so it doesn't matter.

Honestly, most of the MBA schools listed in this post are complete garbage. Those schools are filled with mediocre talent 500 GMAT losers. Is grammar and basic logic that hard?

Anonymous said...

How disappointing!! I was looking forward to adding BS, MBA next to my name. After reading all these posts, I guess I will leave them out. BS might as well mean "Bull Shit", and MBA mean "More Bullshit Arts"

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is tacky to put "MBA after your name." With that said, GET A LIFE. I can't believe you wasted time doing a search for people with MBA in their title for the pure fact of getting angry over it. Let people do what they want to do, it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Maybe you should focus all of that energy on something positive instead of silly little garbage like this.

And one more thing, I thought community colleges had only associate degrees and below...but I suppose you searched the heck out of that already too.

Anonymous said...

First, I find your reasoning limited at best for not listing an MBA.

You seem to have a personal issue against anyone who has not spent time in the hollowed halls of your precious university.

Night School and Online are nothing to raise your snooty nose up. Many people work hard, if not harder that you did, but juggling employment, families, and higher education and you have belittled their efforts with your snide comments.

For all those who have completed higher education online or at night school... congratulations! You deserve the degree you EARN.

As for my self... I hold 5 degrees two of which are masters and one doctorate... I am proud to list my accomplishments in my title since I have earned the honor to do so!

Anonymous said...

It's natural to be jealous of those who have more than you.

MoneyMan, GED

Anonymous said...

Good grief! From all the comments, this seems like a very situational protocol. If one can afford to spend tens of thousands on an MBA, then one can afford to have two sets of cards printed. The plain cards are for US contacts, the others with the MBA designation would be used for foreign contacts and any "networking parties". I live in Miami and placing the MBA designation is more common than not considering our "what can you do for me" culture. Honestly, the designation culls out those who claim they can do something for you, but turn out to be bullshit artists. The first thing EVERYONE in Miami asks when they see MBA or JD on a card is "where did you go to school?"

Anonymous said...

Supply and demand determines how you should market yourself with your MBA credential. In industries where MBAs are scarce, there is value to putting "MBA" on your business card. On the other hand, there isn't as much value putting "MBA" on your business card when you work in an environment that has a large supply of MBAs.

I put MBA on my business card solely for doing international work because I think it will help gain credibility when working with foreign business contacts.

Anonymous said...

I've had my MBA for about 3 years now and in my past job as Alumni Director for the University I left it off because it was not that well regarded of a program by many of our older alumni. (We are known for our music program.)

I have since bought into a Home Healthcare franchise in which I will be doing a lot of face-to-face marketing in much the same way as a pharma rep might do. I have also picked up a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) license as well and my thoughts are leaning toward using both designations on my business card.

Many times (esp. on cold calls) I will only be able to make it as far as the front window at a doctor's office and I think having both the high level business degree of MBA as well as the low level nursing certification of CNA on a business card will help to set me apart in a good way.

I'd like to hear thoughts from the group. In the end a box of business cards doesn't cost that much and you can easily have two sets printed and make the call based on the situation.

Anonymous said...

It's actually pretty easy.
Qualifications belong on a resume (if relevant).
Certifications belong on a business card (if relevant).
A job title belongs on an email signature(if relevant).
Anything else makes you look like a "try-hard".

Alejandro said...

What do you think about using the MBA in your title if you're a recent grad from one of the new Sustainability MBA or "green" MBA programs? I only ask because my thinking is maybe you'd want to distinguish your Sustainability MBA (not just focused on the bottom line, but on the triple bottom line) from the more traditional MBA. I just completed an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise at Dominican University of California, near San Francisco (the oldest "green" MBA program in the country, established in 2000). There are other "green" MBA programs as I'd mentioned, but we're the only one that is called "THE GreenMBA" with a capital G (and no space in between) because we were the first, we got the domain a long time ago, (and the logo/branding has no space between Green and MBA) etc etc. The reason I mention this is that, what I was thinking specifically of as a title was something like "John Doe, GreenMBA", as it's both distinguishing of the different focus of the degree, as well as the institution/program it's associated with. Thoughts ?

Dan said...

Perhaps you covered this, but after reading several comments, I am still very confused. You say that it's okay to use JD, PhD, or professional designations like that of a CFA, CFP, CPA, etc, but many of these credentials take less time than a MBA or only slightly more time than a MBA. How is it that Dan Davis, JD or Dan Davis, CFA is okay where Dan Davis, MBA is not? Arguably, there are as many JD's out in the marketplace as MBA's.

Traci said...

I just ran across this post, a few years after it was written, so the chances of someone actually reading my comment may be slim. However, I just have to say...THANK YOU for writing this post regarding one of my pet peeves. I am surprised by the number of comments that disagree and by the number of people that think the MBA is the terminal degree in business (a quick Google search would tell them it's a doctorate, a degree held by the faculty of most accredited, MBA-granting institutions).

In my opinion, the only *degree* that should follow a name is a doctorate - and even that should be used sparingly. Certifications and licenses are fine, particularly if they are well-recognized or in a medical field. However, putting an MBA after one's name is equivalent to putting an MS, MA, BS, BA, or even a GED after one's name.

Now, the above is only my opinion (though I do believe it is also the generally-accepted practice). People are free to put whatever they want after their name on their resume, business cards, website bio, or email signature. They can sign emails "John Smith, Guru" or even "John Smith, ****head" if they desire. However, they must understand and appreciate the consequences of doing so. I ran a research group at a hedge fund a few years ago and whenever I would look to hire someone, I would immediately screen out the ", MBA" resumes.

Jane Doe, PhD, CFA, BS, GED
(above degrees are actual)

Jack said...

Seriously, then why even get an MBA...just be proud of your accomplishment and don't use it? Lame...I'm in HR and I would definitely look at an MBA for a management position over someone who didn't have one. The designation is recognized, it's pretty stupid to think that someone is trying to hard. These people did go to college to better themselves.

Bottom line, a designation shouldn't dictate qualifications for a job. But it shouldn't disqualify them either.

Richard said...

I agree with the original post. Leave the MBA out of your E-mail signature. It just felt less classy to include it in an E-mail signature, as if hoping that the three letters gives you more credibility. I am an IT professional, and I use the knowledge I gained in business school as an advantage over those with pure IT backgrounds. However, I don't rely on my credentials to tell them I know what I am talking about. I would much rather present lucid, well thought out arguments backed by empirical evidence to make a point.

Anonymous said...

It seems as though the people not using MBA in his or her title are scared to be held accountable for what they should know. I have an MBA and wouldn't second guess my credential for a second. By placing MBA after your name means you are confident in your abilities. The person with your card knows you have put in additional education beyond the undergraduate program, also that your skill sets can be used to help identify the problems within his or her organization, or help him or her grow the organizations bottom line. When clients approach me he or she is looking for a solution to his or her problem, not an undergraduate degree which covers the fundamentals of business. I put the designation behind my name because (1) I earned it, (2) people respect it, and (3) because there are a million resumes and business cards with someone's name on them, but fewer with the MBA designation.

Let's be real, med school is 2 years longer and those students know nothing about business! The expert that runs the operations in a hospital or health agency, is probably a MBA, MPA, or MPH. In fact a lot of physicians and nurses recieve MBA's when they would like to be administrators in the hospital, and they complete the degree at "night school" or online. They place the designation behind their name, along with MD, RN, CRNA, etc. Sorry you can't run my institution if my first impression of you is where are his or her credentials. Don't refer me to the education line of your resume because I don't have that kind of time.

Anonymous said...

If you show off your MBA and your degree is not from a prestigious school, I would be impressed by your pretentiousness. Putting MBA in an email is even worse.

I have known a few people who graduated from a prestigious school and do not show off their MBA. It’s more impressive after finding it out later.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe so many responses were added. You are all lame, judgmental, shallow people. Who really gives a fuck? It's sad to see that so many people can't go half a second without making a judgment based on insecurity about oneself. Sadness. And the comments about night school? At least the person took the time to strive for self improvement, possibly to the extent of their limitations, and assholes like you want to downplay their personal achievements because you are an insecure fuck. I'll go ahead and judge you based on the assumption that you have half the education that I do AND you are too big of a pussy to understand the meaning of the words selfless service while you sit in your safe little cubicle judging people's signature cards. By the way, I'm wring this from Iraq, serving my country that is full of dipshits like you. Prick.

Anonymous said...

And I am willing to bet that you wont publish my last comment because you are a pussy.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry this post angered a soldier serving our country. Thanks for your service.

I don't mean to criticize anyone, I was just hoping to clear up an issue that I see come up pretty frequently.

The comments on this post have reached a point where they've eclipsed the post itself in terms of length and usefulness. I have no vested interest in the outcome of this debate because as stated, I don't use the title on my business card or on my email signature. I would suggest you just read what I wrote and what others wrote and make up your mind.

I hope some people who come to this page with this question find it useful. I know others won't and that's just life.


Stephen Spencer said...

If the surgeon general, who can DEFINITELY rest on her laurels more than any of use uses it, then if you have letters, use them.

If you aren’t working in an industry that is applicable, than maybe do maybe don’t. If you have an MBA though, it denotes that you have been trained in management, but also that your mind is able to analyze in ways that others may have to come by naturally – and this is flexible to any industry, so why not put it? Same thing with an MD. If you have an MD, and now you are running a day care – put your MD – even if you got it in Barbados it doesn’t matter.

“Today’s announcement also marks another way departments, agencies and offices across the federal government are working closely to provide holistic care to all Americans. Earlier this year, the United States Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., announced the nation’s first National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy.”

Anonymous said...

Rather than think of it as the name of a degree actually think about what the degree is stating. You have mastery level training in business administration. Take it a stretch further and call your self a Business Master. I say forget MBA. Just say, "John Smith - The Master of Business." It will be great for starting conversations when you exchange cards, and you will get that an opportunity to bring up your MBA and alma mater. Having earned an MBA from a top 20 school years ago myself, I'm only partially joking. Now that I have more experience, I really consider myself a GMBA - Grand Master of Business Administration, but I leave it off my card because my manager vehemently protested against me putting it on there. Non-MBAs pshhh so jealous of us.

Seriously though. If you don't feel comfortable having it there don't put it on. If you you do, then you will do fine too. Although I don't put it on myself, I can think of a number of situations where having one that says MBA might even be helpful rather than innocuous. I'm pretty sure you can too.

Kyle I. said...

There is a difference between a M.S. in Business administraton and an "Executive MBA"!! A reputable MBA program will not accept applicants with less then 10 years of high-level work experience. These programs can cost $60,000-$100,000+. I think these programs are absolutely appropriate to include on a business card, e-mail, etc...

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with using MBA on your business cards. It is a valid achievement that is useful knowledge to the bearer of your business card. It can later be later clarified as to what school you attended if that is important to the card bearer. Ultimately, everyone's situation is different as to whether it will be a benefit to show an MBA credential on a business card but I think in most cases it is.

Anonymous said...

OK so one doesn't need to have MBA on the business card, if that is the only qualification they have. How about the other accounting/auditing designations like CPA, CIA, CFE. If a person has an MBA besides these three designations, should he mention all four? What should be the order? Thanks and looking forward for suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Why the fuck Doctors write Dr. title on their business cards and Engineers write the Big Eng title on their business Cards. One should be proud about their achievements, this is the most fuckest post i have ever seen.

Fuck you asshole

Anonymous said...

These comments are interesting. Everyone has a reason for choosing to use the MBA designation. Obviously, the designation conveys commitment to continual learning and professional development. I would definitely give a resume a second glance seeing MBA at the end of their name.

Noone has a right to judge and make negative comments about why someone chooses to display their academic accomplishments, especially after working hard to achieve it. However, I believe circumstances dictate usage. As long as it is relevant to achieving your vision and mission, use MBA and other designations.

I would be remiss if I didn't note that after a reasonable amount of professional experience is acquired, MBA becomes less important in comparison to position, title and professional certifications.

In the meantime, I will remain James Doe, PHR, MBA

V10 said...

I have an MBA and absolutely agree with this post. I hate seeing credentials on email signatures or business cards unless its a doctor, an accountant or an engineer. The comment by the previous "anonymous" who drops f-bombs really demonstrates his/her mental abilities and is the perfect example of someone who would have these credentials (and those of their community college) with their title.

movie man said...

Funny thing is, a PhD is NOT a professional designation. If you tell me you're a PhD I still have no idea what you do. Are you a biologist, an archeologist? I have no idea. If you're an MD I know what you do. In reality an MBA is more of a professional designation than a PhD ever will be and it's a terminal degree just like a PhD. I still don't put MBA on my business card but it is much more relevant than a PhD.

Anonymous said...

I have an MBA and I'm currently out of work...I say put it on your personal business cards that you hand out to network with...use this as a tool to distinguish yourself from all the regular people out there with just a "BA" or "BS."

Josh said...

As a matter of fact, and MBA is a professional designation just like a JD, MD, etc....It is professional business designation. It is very important that you get your facts straight. However, I do agree that placing it after your name (as well as MD and JD) is not always necessary. But there is absolutely nothing wrong in doing so. Other designations include certification programs (eg. SHRM, PMI, LEED etc...). All of these are professional designations that you have earned and have every right to show off. On a resume it is evident on other areas besides your name so it may not be needed, but on a business card it's perfectly fine to include. BE PROUD!

Anonymous said...

I quit my MBA after reading this blog....

Chris Doe, MasturBAte

Anonymous said...

MBA degrees are not that unusual nowadays. Every online school offers them, as does 7-11, so why brag that you have one? Concerning MBAs having some superhuman powers to solve business problems, I've twice replaced MBAs who couldn't get the job done, and I just have a BA. Ha!

Anonymous said...

I am a recent MBA grad and have seen a few people within my company using 'MBA' in their email signatures, and so I was curious if this was an accepted practice. So, thank you for this post! After having read through the comments, I am opting out. I don't want to be thought of as pretentious or tacky, even though I am exceedingly proud of my education!!Belly-laugh bonus: "this is the most fuckest post i have ever seen"

Anonymous said...


For those arguing for putting MBA in your email and business card, please see a quote from Robert Kuok, a successful businessman featured in the Forbes Magazine.

"When I hear somebody’s got an M.B.A., I have a feeling of dread, because normally they come to me with an overpompous sense of their own importance. And no way are you going to prick that bubble, with the result that one day there will be a cave-in in their department."

I think I would leave the MBA out and just show others through your work accomplishments :D

Anonymous said...

Business cards???? who still uses them? LOL

Beam me your contact information.

Anonymous said...


What nerve you have! "Another salesperson that BS their way to the top ..Only an Undergraduate Degree"

Sounds sooooo arrogant!

I'm sure Richard Branson, Rachel Ray, Richard Schulze, Sean Combs and Ty Warner, BS their way too, right?

Hats off to you for the hours of study dedicated to earn your degree, but please make no mistake... Passionate dedication, long hours in the field and experience solving real day to day issues, go a long way baby!

Do not generalize all sales professionals that worked their way up as loud mouthed and bull- ishers.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say thanks to everyone for posting - fascinating discussion!
I would conclude that there is no "right" or "wrong" - and even more, would suggest that historical protocols (e.g. only listing terminal degrees) are changing.
I agree that there is a stereotype (egotistical)'MBA in finance' that is disconcerting.
I have never listed mine (30 years now) but believe I will start since I am going to a new job in a university town as CFO where it is required and expected.
Somehow it seems more appropriate to list the MBA with the credentials earned since (CMA, CEFP), as they compliment each other, rather than either alone.
Thanks again everyone, for the insights. Peace.

Johnny129 said...

What a load of rubbish - people like YOU should AVOID GIVING ADVISE! MBA is pretty much the highest worth-while study in the business world. With all due respect to PhD holders - this is more for research and teaching purposes. It is preposterous for you to suggest that MBA should not be included in ones title but a PhD should!

Koray Dakan said...

I think MBA adds much more value to engineers than it does to people already with a ba degree. Many job postings require certificates like PMP (PMI certified Project management professional), OCP (Oracle certified professional) etc. and these are also used in professional titles. MBA degree is 20 times or more expensive/harder to get money-time-effort wise, so why not include it in your title? For example, project management would be just a course in an mba program and an mba holder would not bother to get a PMP cert. or put PMP in his/her title anyway, if you look at it this way.. Put anything in your title that is hard to attain and sets you apart from the rest.. There is no general rule for this and it changes according to country, business sector, profession area, company culture, customer base, etc. Watch people around you and use it if/when you need it.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is going into an MBA program and will soon after have CPA as a title as well, I don't see why it's such a big deal to include these credentials in a business card. Did any of you ever take a class on the use of business cards? No? Because I sure have. A business card is a prime marketing tool for yourself. It's often treated as a mini resume. That's why your name, credentials, phone number, email, etc are on there.

I also take offense to the blogger's derailing of MBA programs in general. He writes about "night classes." I'm going to be a full time student at an accredited business school. Actually, this school is one of the top in the country for this field. There is no doubt in my mind I will have my work cut out for me. I had my work cut out for me just to get through the undergrad program and to get out with good grades and graduate with honors. My achievements are my own and I am very proud of them. Why shouldn't I display them?

Honestly I think it's perfectly reasonable to use MBA as a title. For every d-bag that has a "pet-peeve" with someone using this as a title, there's 10 more people that will see it as a credible achievement. And when everyone you meet is a possible employer or business partner (or who the hell knows what life has in store for you), it's always good to stand out above the sea of mediocrity out there. Don't worry about the haters. After all, haters gonna hate, right?

Anonymous said...

Also, I just wanted to point out that the blogger here seems really put off by this to the point where his views can't be taken seriously. For example, he wrote:

"I have reviewed hundreds of resumes when looking for people to hire and whenever I see one that says "John Smith, MBA" at the top, it creates a bad first impression. It makes me think that person is hanging their hat on the fact that they have an MBA degree and puts the same bad taste in my mouth that I mentioned in my original posting."

To me that sounds very asinine. Sorry if that's a tad harsh for you, but that's how it comes across reading that. The fact that you blatantly sandbag your potential employees simply for having a title in their name just makes you come off as petty. You're exactly the type of employer that would overlook a good candidate simply because of your own personal prejudices. You're the kind of employer I would never want to work for. You view your opinions as gospel and therefore, everyone else is wrong and since you're in a position of power, you get the final say.

As I stated in my earlier post, the MBA is often hard acquired. Some of us go to good schools and work hard. And since business cards and resumes are a good marketing tool, we should outline our achievements outright for those interested to see. One of the biggest no-nos in the business world is to bury your relevant information under too much clutter. This especially goes for your resume. Like someone else said, the first half or third of your resume needs to grab the employer's attention. Why let your accomplishments be just another random bullet-point on the page? Let it be seen and be proud of it.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago I went out of the Ă«mployment comfort zone to do my own start up and when that did not work so well, I had to go back to applying for jobs.
My advanced degree, training and certification got me interviews and good paying jobs. When people ask where I went to school, I tell them I got my MBA from GWU. I say with pride as I labored nights and weekends for 4 years to obtain it.
I am going for an additional certifcation in the coming year and yes I will put that one too after my name, MBA, CDFM, CIA
(I have a CPA that I do not include because I got it offshore)

Internationally, titles are valued. It simply means you are ambitious and hard working enough to better your knowledge|learning and smart enough to pass the certifications.

Anonymous said...

I earned my MBA recently and have not ordered new business cards or changed my e-signature at work for the same reasons debated here. I am in pharma sales and everyone else wears it on their sleeve.

In my opinion, it's meaningless until you need to discuss your education. In an interview, it seems far more compelling for the hiring authority to "discover" this accomplishment than to have it precede their interest.

Why irritate someone with a boast that must be proved in an interview when you can use it to help bolster your performance after clearing the bar?

Nonetheless, it never annoys me to see it. Having done it, I have a lot of respect for the amount of work it takes to achieve. It is meaningful. I simply prefer to keep that gem to myself and only use it when I'm dealing with someone that really knows its value. Otherwise, you attract snipers like those commenting here. Often in business those insecurities are found in bosses.

Chris Mc said...

I think this entire debate is pretentious and laughable. This world is far too much concerned with titles rather than testimonies. Who should be able to flaunt their education, and who should not? I say who cares? If you are proud of your achievements, let people know. Those that become offended or "driven crazy" by it should take a vacation and reassess their priorities in life. There are far, far, far too many, more important issues in this world that need our attention.

To add a side note, to state that someone's achievements are somehow diminished when they attend "night school" or get a degree from the Internet is the height of academic elitism, and quite frankly, shows blatant ignorance.

We are to believe that somehow sitting in a hundred year old classroom listening to a boring professor (as most of the students play on their computers and text each other) is superior to a working mother studying by herself with a host of text books and an online database the size of a Harvard library? How so? Same tests, texts, internships, papers, research... hmmmmm... not sure I follow the logic. Probably because it is a pompous and horribly outdated notion. The age of the bloated, self-important, tenured university professors is over... welcome to the 21st century.

I have had the pleasure, and displeasure, of experiencing both forms of education while on my way to an MBA, and now moving forward with a Ph.D., and I can tell you that there is no difference between the quality of the education... it is simply a matter of preference and situational circumstances (working parent)that play into the type of environment in which learn.

All forms of education are now available online, with resources growing every day, and if you think it is an inferior means to educate our children, start looking at the statistics of online and home schooled youngsters dominating ACT's and SAT's. This simply carries over to undergraduate and graduate studies (such as an MBA!), and will do so into the future as online academics gain popularity and respect throughout the world.

Anonymous said...

Wow, think of all the potential great candidates you missed based on your predetermined notions. Also, I love how people judge those who go to night school as less educated than those who went to traditional schools. maybe you should revisit your methods because for someone who recieves job applicants you're pretty stupid to discount people just because they touched on one of your pet peeves. idiot. haha oh yeah, what a disaster, to look like you are a "try-hard" some of you clowns, author included, need to open your mind and stop being jerks. What a bunch of middle school minded morons, a try hard is someone you strive to be, losers and do nothings make fun of the try hards. ill keep putting MBA on there and trying hard getting my promotions. yall can sit and judge.

Anonymous said...

I saw this post and might assume that some of the posters dont have an MBA. Im graduating in 3 weeks and just have to say that my journey to acquire an MBA has been exceedingly difficult. My MBA program is a 2 year program and is not the run of the mill cracker jack mba's that float out around there.

It should be just personal preference on whether or not to use the title. I personally wont use the MBA on my title unless dealing with academia (or making a reference for someone who plans on entering an MBA program).

Anonymous said...

Wow! I logged onto this site to find out the protocol on this subject of MBA titles. I recently completed a MBA program and feel it's best to include it based on your situation. I have read some good points on both sides of the argument. Over the years it seems that more and more folks are including the MBA title in more situations. As for me, I will include it in my resume, even though many at my work include titles with everything. I personally don't see a need but, understand in this world of opportunity lost, whatever, whenever, if ever, break open opportunities and excel!

Jan Tong said...

I have an advanced degree but do not show them next to my name on my business card or on my e-mail or other documents.

The proper place should be in your resume or under "profile" when it applies.

Anonymous said...

LMAO who cares what you think. If you dont think it should be used doent mean that is the rule. Pet peeve. It is grouchy asses like you that ruin a workplace.

Anonymous said...

Community College by definition, in the US, does not give graduate degrees. Other than that, I guess I have to agree. I have my MBA and no one would know unless they read my company bio or resume on Linked-In. A degree or certification does not define you as an asset to a company or a group of people.

Anonymous said...

Who gives a Flying Fuck about what you want to put on your Business Card or not? If you went to school and you are PROUD of your accomplishments, then you can show them off to the entire world on your business card. What I see here, is a bunch of HATERS, who probably don't even have a degree and they just like to criticize those that do. Let's keep in mind something, this is a FREE country, and if you want to put BS, MBA, PhD on your business card, then you should be able to do so, and you shouldn't care what everyone else thinks about you!!!

Anonymous said...

I checked this site when I was finishing my MBA a year ago to see what was appropriate. I will not use the MBA in my email signature at work or anywhere else. We have a manager here who does and everyone laughs at him behind his back. We have 2 other managers with MBA's who wouldn't mention it unless you asked. Oh, and the guy who uses it questioned my use of the word "costs". So go figure.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think adding MBA to your name is equally as rediculous as adding Dr or PHD to your name. It makes no sense for any degree to be added to your name, be it an AA or a PHD. I don't care how many academic babble-speak papers you've written on the origin of nomadic intercultural relationship modeling techniques. I find it disturbing that in this day and age, we still evaluate the worth of a person based on their titles. Seems rather midieval to me. Having a PHD or master's doesn't necessarily mean you acheived something of merit. It might mean you had rich parents and cheated your way through to the top with your fraternity brothers. As for the original author's remark about MBA's being worth more when they come from certain universities, what a sheepish thing to say. As long as it's officially acredited, any school's degree programs are on par with Yale or MIT. Oh, but that can't possibly be so. Because only Ivy League schools have latticed windows and squash clubs. These things simply must be the epitome of what makes a college superior, right? Unfortunaly for most of America, yes, these are indeed the criteria for a "presitgious" school.

The only reason PHDs are accepted as an addition to their holders' names is because there's no degree higher than a PHD. Academic anality behaves much like a food chain. If all of a sudden there was a new type of degree which required more years of college than a PHD, people with this new degree would belittle PHD holders for adding Dr to their names.

Anonymous said...

I personally discount anything someone who grammar checks blog posts could say. It's a weak argument when someone says you dropped an apostrophe somewhere.

"Your Name, MBA"

Every time.

MoneyMan said...

In response to the poster who wrote :

"As for the original author's remark about MBA's being worth more when they come from certain universities, what a sheepish thing to say. As long as it's officially acredited, any school's degree programs are on par with Yale or MIT. Oh, but that can't possibly be so. Because only Ivy League schools have latticed windows and squash clubs. These things simply must be the epitome of what makes a college superior, right? Unfortunaly for most of America, yes, these are indeed the criteria for a "presitgious" school."

I see your point on this, but the admissions process is generally more rigorous for top ranked schools than it is for other schools. Yes, I admit a lot of spoon-fed scions of elite families get into these places because of how much their parents donated, but in general they are more difficult to get into and teach much more than a correspondence course/internet degree/ community college, which often attract lesser quality teachers due to lower pay/prestige.

Do I give much weight to an ivy league degree? No, personally I don't.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

My take:

A man who has always been rich will pay $30,000 for a Rolex and will maybe wear it once.

But a man who comes from nothing, works hard, saves his money, invests his money, to the point where he can finally afford to buy a Rolex watch, will show off his watch to the world!

Moral of the story: It’s all in the journey and what that journey means to you. If you worked your ass off for an MBA, and you're journey was a tough one and you're proud of your accomplishment, show it off to the world!!!

By the way, it seems to me that Moneyman, in his own world, believes that only doctors can use designations. He even had the nerve to say “And I can see putting CPA on your card in some cases”.

Anonymous said...

As an MBA Student at a non-Ivy League school, I do believe those schools' MBAs carry more weight, at least in part because the professional network is a relatively large component of an MBA's value.

Education wise, the difference is probably overstated, especially if you're not going into finance.

As a student, I'm including my MBA on my business card until I earn a position that I feel overtakes it, but it definitely won't be in my e-mail signature. It probably won't be directly after my name, but rather grouped with my other certifications.

It helps that the fields I'm interested in are not yet dominated by MBAs the way the financial industry is, so it should stand out more as a credential.

One question I have, and I'd appreciate feedback from anyone, is whether I should include my former job title as a design consultant, even though I left my job for school and I don't intend to go back into consulting. The card feels bare without a job title.

Anonymous said...

If you want to use it, use it.
If I want to use it, I will.
Since I am not looking for a job I don't give a f. u. ck about what you losers think. You go and get a job. Real MBA manage their own businesses.
The guy who wrote this article is so fu ck ing jealous about his boss or someone, because obviously he is not an MBA, neither all the people who agree with him, or you are so worried about what "authority" think about you. If it's working for you, keep doing it, and let use use it in our fucking ties, business cards, cars, gold chains and wherever I want... MBA, MBA, MBA, Yes I did it and you don't.
Entrepreneurs never needed acceptance from all you outsiders.

Anonymous said...

I think it differs by country in today's world. I made my mind to use that card only in international exhibits. Just to get my customers trust a bit more than others. Yes it is a show off maybe but I bet I'll be more trusted for those who know what is an mba and it's already my target customer. I think everyone needs to reconsider it according to their conditions.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I am a little bit shocked reading all this comments. I am from Germany, and it is pretty much a must to have your academic degree on your business card, like

John McConnel, BSc, MBA
PR Manager

It's an acandemic title you have achieved which you have to include in your signature and business card... Strange how different it is in different countries.

Anonymous said...

totally tacky. do not do it. you will look insecure and people will believe you are enthralled with this little piece of paper. As an MBA, I would never put that after my name.

If you gotta say it, you probably can't do it. Meaning, your blatant call out of MBA probably indicates you overweight the MBA versus all other areas of experience, knowledge, and know-how.

And if your MBA is from an online college, people will laugh twice as hard when you put it after your name. (as opposed to only laughing at you for the online college nonsense).

Anonymous said...

I worked my way from an assembly line through community college, into a private college to finish my BA, and then into a top 5 university MBA program. I found this blog, like many of the commenters, because I was searching for the proper way to display my credentials. Thank you for your comments and advice.

While I can relate to the backlash against what some would view as offensive comments, I can also attest to the validity of those comments. The quality of education received from Community College and online courses neither prepares a student to perform well in a top-ranked program nor provides a student with the same level of skill, expertise, and ability to do the same quality of work as one from such a program. The learning curve is so vast when making the jump from community college to a more advanced program that not many can keep up with it. I don't like that this is the case, but unfortunately it is.

To those who would criticize the author and offer harsh words, may I make a request...? Please perform a grammar check before insulting another individual on academic issues.

Anonymous said...

I love reading blogs like this. It is fun to watch people argue over title etiquette that is not defined in stone.

I used to work as an IT programmer in a christian college. I have an MBA and a doctorate in IT management that required a dissertation where I surveyed IT directors in Fortune 500 companies and did statistical analyses such as backward stepwise regression (awaiting publication in ProQuest). I will be starting a new job as a software engineer for a property/mortgage firm soon that pays close to six figures.

In my previous job, I have never referred to myself as "Dr. LastName" or put my degrees in my e-mail signature. Other co-workers would refer to me as "Dr. LastName" because the college has a policy to address all employees with doctorate degrees with the "Dr." title. I laughed one time when I looked at an e-mail that was forwarded to me from someone who had ", MBA" listed after his name when his job title was "College Bookstore Cashier." Why would anyone care knowing that someone has an MBA if he is a cashier in the college bookstore. Even though I had no degrees listed after my name in my e-mail signature, I thought that my doctorate in IT management would be more relevant to my profession as an IT programmer than an MBA would be to someone working as a bookstore cashier.

I also had a friend who had started working on his non-accredited PhD in history the same time I started working on my doctorate in IT management. We both had just sent our letters of intent to our respective universities.

He made a comment saying something like "why do they require us to send them a letter of intent?"
I replied, "They probably want to know what we plan to do with our doctorate degrees." I then, jokingly said, "What's wrong with wanting to earn a doctorate for the sole purpose of earning the 'Dr.' title?" He replied in a serious tone, "Exactly!"

He did not have to work a job while he was taking his classes whereas I worked a full-time job in IT while taking my classes. He finished his whole PhD in two years then worked at the college as a supervisor in the academy homeschooling department.

I often heard him brag about himself as some kind of intelligent geek although all of his degrees were in general education and he admitted that he has never been a teacher nor ever wants to be.

It took me 5 & 1/2 years to complete my doctorate.

One time, he sent me an e-mail about a programming problem and I noticed that his e-mail signature had ", PhD" after his name. Later, when I added him as a friend in Facebook, I noticed that one of his e-mail addresses was something like

I guess there are people who feel the need to flaunt their degrees in contexts where they do not even apply. As a software engineer, I would most likely never list my MBA or even my doctor of IT management after my name on anything. Maybe someday, if I become an IT manager, I may, because it would make more sense in a professional context, but not now, unless my boss would want me to. :)

Anonymous said...

Just a thought on online degrees, I saw in a documentary (I forget which one- Zeitgeist?) that the US seems "behind the times" with it's emphasis on the brick-n-mortar approach to college education whereas countries like India are smoking us with their online education offerings and highly educated workforce. Just a thought.

Craig T, MBA (almost!)

Luis Escorcia,MBA said...

I agree...

Ray McCaslin said...

You are entitled to your opinion, but just because you have a pet peeve does not mean that you are correct. You speak as if you are an authority, but you only demonstrate that you really don't know what you are talking about. If you had experienced an online education, I don't think that you would thumb your nose at it. I just completed an online degree. It takes tremendous focus and discipline to complete. Although professors and instructors are present, they cannot provide the hand holding that professors in a live classroom can. You have to learn and observe the same material without the hand holding.

I won't use MBA in my title, but I am just as proud of it, and may have learned more to earn it than you.

Anonymous said...

My opinion on this issue is: use initials behind your name if it designates WHO you are, not WHAT you have. You are a CPA. You are a PMP. You are a CPCU. You are not an HAVE an MBA. Yes, I have an MBA but I do not list it behind my name on my email signature or LinkedIn profile.

Anonymous said...

I have my MBA and over 20 years of professional experience... I find it laughable that anyone would use MBA in their title. My dad and I are both graduates (BBA) of Notre Dame with his MBA obtained at Michigan, and mine at the University of Texas. This is just our opinion, but why not err on the side of caution and not look like a pretentious narcissist to potential employers or clients? (was that redundant?)

Anonymous said...

I'm a HR guy who has a Haas MBA. I endbup throwing most people who put MBA in their title or business card in the "No" pile. Why? The posters who resort to childish name calling and overall douchiness are the type of insecure people who generally tout their MBA.

To the posters who say they worked hard for a MBA, well yeah, butblet's be real. I don't know anyone who was dropped academically for a MBA, basically two years of drinking... Er... Socializing... I mean networking. A MBA isn't that hard, my MPP and JD were significantly more rigorous. Those getting MAs, MDs, and PhD's in the STEM or economics disciplines have an even harder program to complete. You're not special, hundreds of thousands have MBAs. Let your work history and your job performance and competence speak for you.

Anonymous said...

I agree that using "MBA" in your title makes a person look like he or she is trying too hard. I am a lawyer and have a J.D., but I don't put "Jane Doe, J.D." on my business cards or email signature, even though I arguably worked just as hard, or harder, to get that degree.

Anonymous said...

RFP,CFP,TEP,CIM,CIWM,FMA,FCSI,Chartered Financial Planner,MBA,PgCert Laws.

Have run out of office wall for all these certifications and they cost a Carribean vacation to maintain.

I don't use MBA on my card but depending on where my reports are going I will use the appropriate designation that fits.

Anonymous said...


Do you have an MBA? If not, perhaps you might consider working toward one and then you might have a different opinion on the matter when you go through the difficulties of obtaining one from an accredited University.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, hard to believe but I read the whole thing .. six years of running conversation and argument.

Here's my question - my university is a fully accredited institution complete with a well-funded business school that pumps out M.Pacc's and MBAs and such. I'm a graduate of its undergraduate B.Comm program but since I work in government, I opted to apply to the smaller (and dare I say, more rigorous) MPA (master of public administration).

Regarding the comments in this blog - would most people apply their comments re: MBA degrees similarly to MPA degrees? Or do those of you who work outside government see them in a different light?

Just curious - thanks!

United States Veteran said...

I am glad that you clarified at the end of your blog that you were not turning your nose up to those who received their MBA or any other degree for that matter at night school or online. I am a U.S. Veteran who has been working on completing my degree between numerous deployments and countless time away from friends and family. After recently becoming a veteran I found myself with a greater responsibility to ensure that my own family is taken care of. This meant, of course, that I would have to finally complete my education as well as pursue a post graduate degree. I did not have the luxury of foregoing my responsibilities to my immediate family to complete my education. I still needed to provide for them while I went to school. Therefore my only option was to pursue the rest of my education through available means. Though I agree with you that for my own personal preference I would not use MBA in any of my correspondence but if I chose to do so in the future, I would be more than proud that I attained my degrees in night school or online. Going to night school was just part of the sacrifice my brothers and sisters in the armed forces have had to make in order to serve our country. Any of our accomplishments in education, whether through a traditional institution or nontraditional is something we have proudly earned.

Anonymous said...

Context matters. For instance, if you're a teacher, then your educational background is relevant. I think a college professor's business card should list degrees—and in fact, in that context it's arguable that pedigree matters, too, so maybe you should even list schools. (UPhoenix is not Harvard.)

In a professional context like law or medicine, you don't advertise the degree because it's assumed. If you are a lawyer, then obviously you have a JD (or LLB). If you are a doctor, then obviously you have an MD. And you use "Dr" or "Esq" to denote that in addition to having the education, you also have a license. Not every law or medical school graduate has passed the boards or the bar. It's not chest-puffing; it's a useful and sometimes necessary signal to the reader.

I hate to sound facile, but I do think a lot of the pushback against designations arises from jealousy. People dislike being reminded that someone else might be more accomplished than them. Also, we have a weird relationship as a society with pride. We teach kids to feel pride for accomplishments, but not necessarily to act proud. That's not always a bad thing, but sometimes it goes too far. This is one example.

I have a JD. I have two business cards, as a lawyer and an artist. I don't list my JD on either card, because it's assumed in the first case and irrelevant in the second. But if I were a teacher with business cards, my JD would go on those. It isn't assumed that a teacher has graduated from law school, but it is relevant. If I were a college student, or a parent of a younger student, or an administrator looking to hire a teacher, I would absolutely want to know.

In short, context matters. Like most things, if you're proclaiming blanket rules, then you're probably missing some perspective.

Anonymous said...

I have an MBA and a JD, and I list both after my name on my business cards. My primary justification is that the only people who receive my business cards are account prospects/customers and individuals at networking events or other social environments where networking opportunities may arise. Since such recipients will never see my resume, my business cards serve as a tool to communicate both my contact info, as well as my credentials.

Since I work in Sales, it's important for me to establish credibility at the beginning of a relationship, as the ability to measure my level of competence, quality of work, product and customer service is not possible until after a relationship begins and sufficient time has passed to allow an honest critique.

As a result, it's important for to communicate that I have a solid educational background from the outset, and I want others to know that I am well qualified to take their business and engage in a mutually beneficial business relationship.

As a caveat, the designations alone do not inspire credibility, one must also possess a certain amount of charisma, effective communication, and overall sense of competence that instills confidence in the business card recipient.

However, I strongly disagree on the over generalization that the MBA should simply be left off the business card. It's a matter of personal opinion, proper context and environment, and overall intention behind using the designation. For some, such as myself, it's entirely appropriate. For others, it may not be.

In any event, who really cares?

Anonymous said...

I am a licensed Professional Engineer with an MBA. I will be using "PE, MBA" on my business cards. I read most of the comments above. There were a lot of great points, but this decision is situational. I just called a contact at the American Society of Civil Engineers headquarters in DC. He said all the MBAs he knows use the designation on their business cards. That's a good enough argument for me. In my field, MBAs are rare, which makes the designation useful.

It's entirely up to you what you do, but I wanted to throw this nugget out there for other PEs that might be wondering if the field of engineering has different rules.

Colloquially, we all know that the field of engineering has far fewer "bullshitters" than other fields. A designation of MBA will almost certainly bring value to the table, not just create the illusion of value.

Anonymous said...

I see the confidence of omitting the MBA title to people who know your work or level of education but what about those who do not? You will not give everyone person a resume after handing them your business card.

Armin600 said...

A LOT OF YOU PEOPLE HERE ARE JUST FULL OF SHIT. Also, some of you people have a PITIFUL command of grammar and spelling. How did some of you people even graduate high school? Bribery? Sexual Favours?

The moron who started this "debate" does not even know the difference between a "professional designation", an "academic degree" and a "job title". I would never work WITH (never write “FOR”) a moron who gets pissed off about how people present their e-mail signatures because he/she is definitely a worthless micromanager who would be toxic to any corporate environment.

Most of you people are completely IGNORANT about the actual topic of this “debate”. SEE BELOW.
c) Manager of Systems Support = (THIS IS A “JOB TITLE”)

Now, READ and UNDERSTAND the following:

1. When you present a business card, you SHOULD include ALL of your academic degrees and ALL of your professional designations. That is the damn purpose of a business card in the first place.

2. If you have / hold a “Ph.D.” (degree), you ARE A “DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY” or you can also say you HAVE A “DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY” DEGREE. GET IT?
So, it is CORRECT to say “I have / hold a Ph.D. degree” OR “I am a Ph.D.” BOTH ARE CORRECT, YOU MORONS!

3. If you ever say “I am a Ph.D. degree”, then you are a dumbass who knows nothing.
Keep in mind, those with half a brain already know that “Ph.D.” is an (academic) degree so we can omit the word “degree” and just say “I have / hold a Ph.D.” GET IT?

4. THE SAME THING APPLIES FOR “MBA” which stands for “MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION”, not “masters in business administration” which I see some idiots write all the time. LEARN THE PROPER NAME OF THE FUCKING DEGREE YOU UNEDUCATED PIECES OF SHIT (yeah, that’s ironic, isn’t it?)
So, does everyone in the class understand what I am saying?
You CAN say “I am a MBA with 10 years of…” because that means “I AM A Master of Business Administration” OR you CAN say, “I have / hold a MBA degree”. Again, keep in mind, those with half a brain already know that “MBA” is an (academic) degree so we can omit the word “degree” and just say “I have / hold a MBA”

5. MBA / Ph.D. are ACADEMIC DEGREES – they are not “professional designations”

6. Your “JOB TITLE” should NEVER be written in full or abbreviated after your name on a business card. The executive morons at the company I work for write shit like this:
“John Smith, EVP & CFO”
Company Name
What the fuck is that?

John Smith
Executive Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer
Company Name
John Smith
Company Name

7. What if John Smith held a MBA? Then OF COURSE you would ADD IT after your name, dumbass:

John Smith, MBA
Company Name

8. What if John Smith held a Ph.D.? Then OF COURSE you would ADD IT after your name, dumbass:

John Smith, MBA, Ph.D.
Company Name

9. What if John Smith was a CPA? Then OF COURSE you would ADD IT after your name, dumbass:

John Smith, MBA, Ph.D., CPA
Company Name

10. What if John Smith was a MD? Then OF COURSE you would add it after your name, dumbass:

John Smith, MBA, Ph.D., CPA, MD
Company Name

I DON’T KNOW (and I don’t care) about the ORDER in which you would list your degrees and designations. If you are even concerned about that, go split some hairs while you’re at it.

Anonymous said...

Do you have an MBA? I'm curious if the position on this is split between those that have an MBA and those that don't.

Anonymous said...

I think it is up to the individual if they choose to use MBA in their signature or not. It could be a way of introduction. Not every one will see your work or be able to or need to assess it.

Some people dress badly, make poor presentations, etc. because they feel they need to cut out the 'fluff' - not sure I entirely agree with this. Nothing wrong in trying to create the best impression of yourself at the first meeting.

Also most people who strongly oppose using educational credentials are those who do not have any formal educational qualifications - not even from a night school. Most are usually school dropouts who got a lucky break at work.

Anonymous said...