A Matter of Degree: A Satirical Look at College Degrees and Letters
College Degrees and the Letters
Have you ever wondered what it means to be a man or a woman of letters? A person of letters is, in short, an intellectual. Why "of letters"? Because of all the letters that follow their name, of course, and the more letters the more intellectual. An intellectual stamp of approval, if you will.
However, with the proliferation of licensure requirements, it seems as though to be of letters is the rule rather than the exception. Gone are the days when colleges and universities were the only institutions bestowing letters, now the many legislatures and their legislatively created licensing agencies bestow letters for almost any license imaginable. Before long, I will be Peter M. Lopez, LPOMV (Licensed Professional Operator of a Motor Vehicle, certified by the State of Texas to drive my car).
A Review of College Degrees and Letters.
The traditional degrees conferred by colleges and universities are the Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral degrees. Junior and community colleges dub the graduate "Associate," but so do department stores (sales associate), customer calling centers (service associate), and escort services (adult associate - no joke, Google "associate"). So do law firms (associate attorney), major research institutions (research associate), and, again, colleges and universities (associate professors). Because of the ambiguity, I will ignore the associate.
Each degree is then abbreviated or acronymized by a combination of the first or first two letters making up the words. The abbreviations or acronyms are then proudly attached to the end of the bestowee's name for the world to see. Thus, you become of letters.
...I suppose this is the case, I really have no idea, but this seems to make sense, does it not?
So, let's have a little fun:
Bachelor's Degree: The Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Sciences (BS). A degree confirming your status as a single, eligible male (or female, as in "actor" designating both an actor or actress, colleges and universities being bastions of political correctness. Imagine: Bachelorette of Science. Yikes!). I wonder if this is why most bachelors do not display the BA or BS at the end of their name(?), the shame of displaying to society a state of bachelorhood. I suspect it was southern mothers that first started prohibiting bachelorettes from admitting that they were still single after having gone to college to find a husband.
However, I have encountered a few daring buckers of the system who amend the title of bachelor to their name, producing such questionable signature lines as, "James Smith, BS."
But, the Bachelor's degree confirms that you are officially a college graduate, although graduate school awaits if you no longer wish to remain a bachelor.
"What? You mean after I graduate I have to go to graduate school? I'm confused..."
- Academic Degrees - Wiki
More information than you need on all types of college degrees.
- The New 2008 "Best 366 Colleges" Rankings
The Princeton Review's latest rankings of the best colleges and universities in America.
- Highest Paying College Degrees
CNN Money's top 10 majors sought by prospective employers.
A Primer on Post-Nominals
Rule: Graduate Letters Only.
- Cool: Patty Inglish, MS
- Uncool: Patrick English, BS
Rule: No Double Dipping.
- Cool: Arnt U. Smart, MA, PhD
- Uncool: Dr. Arnt U. Smart, MA, PhD
Rule: No Commingling Degrees & Certifications.
- Cool: John Doe, MA, MEd, PhD, LPC.
- Uncool: John Doe, MA, MEd, LPC, PhD.
Master's Degree: The Master of Arts (MA) or Sciences (MS). You are a master, like Yoda. You have achieved a level of mastery above and beyond what you had before you typed the last period on your thesis. At the very least, you have mastered the art of writing long research papers no one will ever read.
You are an expert, but not quite the ultimate expert. No, you have to return to graduate school and graduate yet again. Perhaps Yoda should have gone back to the academy for his Jedi Doctorate.
You are stuck in the middle, looking down on the bachelor but still looking up to the doctor. Should you pat yourself on the back for your achievement and enter the work place or totally submerge yourself in a vat of student debt whence you will never emerge and become a professional student? Tough call, to be sure, but what you will lack in money you will earn in the prestige of being able to insist lowly undergraduates, even masters, call you "Doctor".
Variations on the Masters Degree include, but are certainly not limited to: The Master of:
Business Administration (MBA): You are an expert administator of business. Not to be confused with the expert administer. You are not qualified to operate the machine operated by the junior-high drop out on the assembly line, but you are certainly qualified to sign his or her paycheck and emend "MBA" to your signature on said paycheck.
Social Work (MSW): You are a master of the inner workings of society...wait, no your not, that would be a Master of Arts in sociology. You are a master of working a social setting... wait, I have never met an MSW who was a "social butterfly". Maybe we run in different social circles. Your heart is big, your paycheck is not, and not one of your clients has a clue what "MSW" means. The world would probably be a better place if there were more people like you, but your existence hangs by a thread ready to snap at the slightest pressure applied by any legislative whim. And I'm still not entirely sure what you do exactly.
Education (MEd): I always think you are a typo, someone misspelling an abbreviation, a doctor perhaps. You are a master educator, but you are probably administrating education rather than administering education. Once again, the administrator/administer dichotomy. Puzzling? Would you care to educate me on this? Or, would you administrate an educator to administer the education to me?
Divinity (MDiv): Either a master confectioner, or a master of the divine. Possibly both, but doubtful. I have often wondered: would not mastering divinity make one divine? I see no evidence of this from the masters, but it should be so, and the degree reserved for only the divine. I propose a renaming on the grounds of impossibility.
Fine Arts (MFA): Oh no, a Master of Arts wasn't good enough for you, you wanted to be a master of the fine arts. You poo at all other masters of mere arts, and are among the few who distinguish art from fine art. I object! Is not the orator an artist on par with the one performing the oratorio? Yet, the orator can only achieve mastery of the arts, while the song bird, the actor, the painter, and the sculptor can achieve mastery of the fine arts.
Graduate School Info.
Doctorate (PhD): The Doctor of Philosophy (and the countless variations thereon). The pinnacle of the American education system. Ironic, how the ultimate achievement in a particular discipline only indicates that you have mastered (wait, no, doctored?) the art or science of being a student. Funny, too, how 40-year-olds who have only ever held part-time jobs are either doctors or deadbeats. But, the achievement is most honorable and confirms a lifetime of dedication to something truly noble, something other than mere family or friends.
I'm joking, of course. I kid PhDs because I am envious, although I hold a Doctor of Jurisprudence, most lawyers are not referred to as doctors. Sad, but true. And the tension between the PhD's and those holding mere professional doctorates is palpable, the nobility of the PhD on the one hand and the earning capacity of the professional degrees on the other. It is the equivalent of the high-school cliques all over again.
Doctor of Medicine (MD): The most familiar of all doctors, the MD is not a Doctor of Philosophy, but of medicine. No, you have no desire to ponder life and the meaning thereof, but you do help keep those that do alive to continue their pondering. You walk the fine line between genius an insanity as tightly as anyone with your OCD, paranoia, anxiety, and/or whatever other disease, syndrome, or condition will get your golfing partner to prescribe you legal methods of sedation or inebriation.
Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD): Leave it to lawyers to confuse everything. The initial graduate degree conferred by law schools is the Doctor of Jurisprudence, you have to go back to law school to then achieve the Master of Laws (LLM). Apparently you don't need a mastery of the law to file a lawsuit and exacerbate the MD's mental condition described above, but you do need the doctorate. Three years of intensive study and training in and about the law, in particular how to avoid, evade, find exceptions therein, and create loopholes therethrough (and how to use words like "therein").
- Client: Mr. Jones, I would like for my company to be able to build a housing development down on the bank of the river.
- Lawyer: Why Mr. Smith, that would be illegal because of local zoning ordinances, state and federal environmental protection regulations, and, not to mention, that the land is owned by someone else.
- Client: I know that. Can you help me do it?
- Lawyer: Of course, but I will need a retainer of...
Ain't the law fun?
Education is the Best Investment.
I hope you have enjoyed this little review of college degrees and letters. Regrettably, I have not included license designations or other similar titles, there are simply too many. And in the time it took you to read this hub 1,376,294 others were created.
I do not in any way mean to disparage anyone for having obtained or to discourage anyone from obtaining a quality education. There is simply no better investment than the investment in one's education. But, what is the point of an education if you can't have a little fun?