ProZ.com global directory of translation services
 The translation workplace
Ideas
KudoZ home » English » Art/Literary

Masters or Master's (degree)?

English translation: Master's degree

Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs
(or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.
GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:Masters degree or Master's degree
English translation:Master's degree
Entered by: R. A. Stegemann
Options:
- Contribute to this entry
- Include in personal glossary

10:43 Feb 4, 2004
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary / grammar, university degrees
English term or phrase: Masters or Master's (degree)?
I'm having a brain block here.

Does one say:
I have my Master's degree
I have my Masters degree
(or even: I have a Master degree)

And what about with the noun "program"? Master's Program or Masters Program?
Michele Johnson
Germany
Local time: 23:35
Master's degree
Explanation:
Better yet Master of Arts or Master of Science degree.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2004-02-05 01:29:47 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Note to Nancy Arrowsmith:

The people who grant the Master of Arts or Science degrees are doctors -- not masters.

Not to everyone:

This discussion has proven somewhat interesting and has caused me to think a little harder. I suspect the tendency to drop the apostrophe has occurred, because of the following confusion. There are many different kinds of Master of Arts and Science degrees, and it is thus common to speak of more than one. How does one go about it, though?

Consider the phrases \"I have two Master\'s degrees\" or that institution awards many different Master\'s degrees in the visual arts. In the first sentence there is only one master with two degrees. In the second there are many masters each with one or more degrees. Should one not then write Masters\' degrees? Is it not this potential toggling back and forth with regard to the position of the apostrophe that has led many people to drop it altogether?

Then too, since it is doctors who award the degree, one can easily imagine some degree (pun intended) of condescension (coming down) and disdain (going up) for lack of precision (coming down) or over precision (going up) with regard to the presence or absence of an elevated comma.

No, Rowan, I would not promote the absence of the apostrophe, no more than I would promote dropping the dot over the i. One has to draw the line somewhere (pun intended)!
Selected response from:

R. A. Stegemann
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 06:35
Grading comment
Interesting how a simple question turns out to be so complex! I don't think we concluded anything absolutely, but am now personally leaning towards "Master's", although I do agree with Rowan's point that everyday usage practically makes both possible. Alaa also makes a valid point. Thank you also to John and Mihaela for your comments.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +9Master's degree
R. A. Stegemann
4 +5Master's or MastersRowan Morrell
4 +5In your specific examplesJohn Bowden
4 +1master's degree program
Mihaela Sinca
3 +1I have a ... degree
Alaa Zeineldine


  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +9
Master's degree


Explanation:
Better yet Master of Arts or Master of Science degree.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2004-02-05 01:29:47 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Note to Nancy Arrowsmith:

The people who grant the Master of Arts or Science degrees are doctors -- not masters.

Not to everyone:

This discussion has proven somewhat interesting and has caused me to think a little harder. I suspect the tendency to drop the apostrophe has occurred, because of the following confusion. There are many different kinds of Master of Arts and Science degrees, and it is thus common to speak of more than one. How does one go about it, though?

Consider the phrases \"I have two Master\'s degrees\" or that institution awards many different Master\'s degrees in the visual arts. In the first sentence there is only one master with two degrees. In the second there are many masters each with one or more degrees. Should one not then write Masters\' degrees? Is it not this potential toggling back and forth with regard to the position of the apostrophe that has led many people to drop it altogether?

Then too, since it is doctors who award the degree, one can easily imagine some degree (pun intended) of condescension (coming down) and disdain (going up) for lack of precision (coming down) or over precision (going up) with regard to the presence or absence of an elevated comma.

No, Rowan, I would not promote the absence of the apostrophe, no more than I would promote dropping the dot over the i. One has to draw the line somewhere (pun intended)!


R. A. Stegemann
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 06:35
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 132
Grading comment
Interesting how a simple question turns out to be so complex! I don't think we concluded anything absolutely, but am now personally leaning towards "Master's", although I do agree with Rowan's point that everyday usage practically makes both possible. Alaa also makes a valid point. Thank you also to John and Mihaela for your comments.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Jörgen Slet
4 mins

agree  Enza Longo
6 mins

agree  Empty Whiskey Glass
17 mins

agree  Armorel Young: let's hear it for the proper use of the apostrophe!
24 mins
  -> Yeah, me too!

agree  Nado2002
35 mins

agree  Veronica H? onClick=: Definitely Master's
6 hrs
  -> OK!

agree  mdesestret
7 hrs

agree  Pike
7 hrs

agree  Eva Olsson: I have always used and seen Master's, but I am not very surprised at the occurrence of Masters.
9 hrs
  -> I am not surprised either, but like you I am not encouraging its use.

disagree  Rowan Morrell: That Master's with the apostrophe is the only option. "Masters degree" appears too often in search engine hits for it to be considered an anomaly. Many standard English words started out as "mistakes". And the it's in your response should be its!
13 hrs
  -> I see no reason to promote error. The apostrophe is an important part of the English, as well as many other languages of our world. It's proper use should be encouraged. War also exists, does this mean we should promote it?

agree  Margarita
13 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
masters or master's (degree)?
master's degree program


Explanation:
www.cs.washington.edu/masters/
Directory of Professional Master's Degree Programs in the Mathematical Sciences
http://www.ams.org/tools/masters.html





Mihaela Sinca
Local time: 00:35
Native speaker of: Native in RomanianRomanian
PRO pts in pair: 12

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Jörgen Slet
3 mins

agree  Empty Whiskey Glass
16 mins

disagree  R. A. Stegemann: One does not say I have a Master's degree program unless one is the institution offering it.
1 hr
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

23 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
In your specific examples


Explanation:
I'd say "I have an MA" - but the degree is called a Masters degree. THe apostrophe would imply it belonged to someone who was "a master" in a non-academic sense.
THe quote is from teh University of Sheffield, but all the other UK universities I've checked also refer to "Masters degrees" and "masters degree programmes"

"This Masters Degree programme in the School of Architecture allows the opportunity to study a range of subjects at an advanced level in an academic unit with a distinguished reputation in both teaching and research"


    Reference: http://www.shef.ac.uk/uni/academic/A-C/archst/main/courses/m...
John Bowden
Local time: 22:35
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 140

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Rowan Morrell: So there IS a distinction between Masters and Master's then. Thanks for pointing it out! In Michele's shoes, I think I'd be leaning rather heavily to this answer.
6 mins

agree  Spiros Doikas
14 mins

agree  Nado2002
19 mins

agree  Amy Williams: I much prefer 'Masters', but there are plenty of refs for 'Master's degree' from UK universities http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/gsp/courses/humanities/engl.shtml
44 mins

neutral  R. A. Stegemann: There may be a dispute between the US and UK on this point.
1 hr

agree  Nancy Arrowsmith: could it be that the Masters grant the degree, and not that it is a degree of a master?
4 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
masters or master's (degree)?
I have a ... degree


Explanation:
Apostrophe politics aside, I think you should replace "my" with "a": "I have a Master's degree in ...", or as John suggests "I have an MA/MS ...".

It is also not uncommon to say "I have a Master's in ..."

While you can say "I took my Master's ...", saying "I have my Master's" is either redundant, or indicates that you are carrying it with you.

Alaa Zeineldine
Egypt
Local time: 23:35
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 198

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Eva Olsson
6 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

9 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
masters or master's (degree)?
Master's or Masters


Explanation:
I think both "Masters" or "Master's" are OK. A quick search on Yahoo revealed 775,000 hits for "Master's degree" and 784,000 hits for "Masters degree". However, I don't really like "Master degree".

But certainly, "Masters degree" and "Master's degree" are both in such frequent use as to be considered standard. If you still can't decide, toss a coin! :-) The apostrophe is a rather endangered species these days anyway, and this is one instance where you can insert ir or leave it out without any dire consequences either way.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 15 mins (2004-02-04 10:59:16 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The same applies to \"Masters program\" or \"Master\'s program\". 131,000 Yahoo hits for the former, 136,000 for the latter. Not a lot of difference. Again, you could use either just as safely.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 13 hrs 54 mins (2004-02-05 00:38:29 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Regarding the apostrophe issue: I\'m following a DEscriptive rather than a PREscriptive approach here. If I wanted to be PREscriptive, I\'d probably be agree with Hamo, but the fact is that, whether Masters without the apostrophe is right or wrong, it is used so frequently that it really has to be considered standard, however much the more pedantic among us (and I count myself as one of those) may dislike it. Therefore, I think you really can\'t impose a \"hard and fast\" rule in this instance. However much we may like to regulate the English language, the fact is that it regulates itself to a large extent. Popular usage, rather than the decrees of grammarians, contributes very significantly to the \"standardising\" of a word or phrase that may be considered wrong when it first appears.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 18 hrs 52 mins (2004-02-05 05:36:31 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Note to Hamo: It\'s = it is; its = belonging to it.

If you want to encourage correct use of the apostrophe, begin by using it correctly yourself!

You should say \"Its proper use should be encouraged\", not \"It\'s proper use should be encouraged\".

Having said that, people mix up \"it\'s\" and \"its\" so often that the rule may end up becoming irrelevant. I repeat my point that a number of standard words and phrases used today were considered errors when they were first written. I don\'t wish to promote error, but popular usage can eventually make \"error\" redundant in some cases. Maybe Master\'s/Masters is one such case.

Rowan Morrell
Local time: 09:35
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 227

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Amy Williams: yes, you can use either.
1 min
  -> Thanks Amy.

agree  James Calder: Poor old apostrophe. Have a read of 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves' by Lynne Truss. It devotes a whole chapter to apostrophes.
5 mins
  -> I've sometimes considered forming an SPCA - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Apostrophes! The poor things do suffer most dreadfully. It's sad to see.

agree  Empty Whiskey Glass
13 mins
  -> Thanks Svetozar.

agree  Nado2002
33 mins
  -> Thanks Nado2002.

agree  melayujati
37 mins
  -> Thanks melayujati.

disagree  R. A. Stegemann: I strongly disagree. A Master of Arts or Science degree is the degree of someone who has mastered a certain set of coursework. Thus, the degree is that of the master -- a Master's degree!
1 hr
  -> "Master's" may be more "correct" (and I follow your argument as to why), but "Masters" occurs too frequently for it to be discounted as wrong. I therefore maintain that the terms are interchangeable, but maybe "Master's" is more desirable.

agree  Iolanta Vlaykova Paneva
1 hr
  -> Thanks Yolanta.

neutral  Eva Olsson: I like your comment, Hamo, but I'm afraid that a lot of apostrophes are being dropped whether we like it or not...
9 hrs
  -> Indeed Eva. Changes to the English language are governed by popular usage as much as anything else. Many words and phrases we consider standard today were "mistakes" when they first appeared.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Return to KudoZ list


KudoZ™ translation help
The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.



See also: