Considering Credentials: What to feature on a business card

by epi on January 24, 2012

Q: Is it acceptable to list an MBA degree on business cards?  I received a master’s in business 10 years ago, and at that time it was never done.  Now I see MBAs popping up everywhere, right next to MD, JD, CPA, CFA, and other professional designations.

A: I wouldn’t put MBA on my card anymore that I would put Peter Post, BS (which some people misinterpret).  It just seems a bit tacky to me.  Your business card is not a personal advertisement or curriculum vitae.  It’s a way to give information about you so that people can get in touch with you, and it defines your position.  If, on the other hand, you have a professional credential that relates directly to your expertise – CPA for a certified public accountant, or CFP for certified financial planner – then this does belong on your business card.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Rusty Shackleford January 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Sounds like a great rule of thumb. If the credential/license is required for you to do your job then put it on the business card. I agree an MBA is a great achievement and undoubtedly reflects a tremendous deal of knowledge in the field of business, but it doesn’t really certify you to do anything that a non-MBA could not do. On the other hand, if you practice medicine without an MD, you would go straight to jail.

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Lilli January 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Also keep your particular industry in mind. It may be common to use Mary Smith, CPA but I work in the legal field and putting Esquire or JD after your names is usually seen as pretentious. Other people would address correspodence to you as Mary Smith, Esq., but to use it on your business card or signature is kind of tacky.

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Charlie February 6, 2012 at 4:25 am

Perhaps it’s just me but with the direction the world is heading purposely not including your accomplishments on your business card seems about right. I know it took a lot of hard work for me to achieve my educational goals, and although I don’t have an M.D., J.D. or Ph.D. I feel the recognition should still be there. I guess it goes along with the fact that the more professionals I meet the more of them seem to be saying “Call me Bill,” or “Call my Sally,” to patients and clients. I’ve known college professors that are in their forties and are telling their eighteen and nineteen year old students to call them by their first names in class. To me such a first-name basis diminished the respect their students have for them. Is this tacky? It kind of goes along with the slang that has become so much a part of Twenty First Century English.

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roshow March 20, 2013 at 6:17 am

I do not have a business… but wanted to make some business cards for networking. Should or is it appropiate to list all my credentials? I have a bachelors and 2 masters ( BS in therapy, an MPA and a Masters in Adult Edu). PLEASE HELP. I only have a couple hours to make a decision.

Thanks!

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Just Laura March 20, 2013 at 9:45 am

I always suggest leaving off the undergraduate degrees, since once people see “MPA” and “M.Ed.” they’ll figure out that you also have a four-year degree.

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Casey McCarty January 23, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I have pretty mixed feelings about this too (if not business cards, email signatures). I’m head of operations for a startup. I earned a Master of Science and am perusing an MBA. I’m not yet 30, however, and female, and I’m concerned many of the male middle aged professionals with whom we must network may be quick to dismiss my academic training and skills based on their own assumptions. Clearly I won’t be passing around a CV nor aspiring to drop my qualifications awkwardly into conversations.

I’m conflicted as to whether doing Name, MS, MBA will look pretentious or will offer a momentary pause to re-evaluate any assumptions made from my youthful, feminine appearance long enough to listen to what I’m saying.

Perhaps one set for informal or more casual contexts, and one set for when I’m actively trying to bank on business connections or for consulting services?

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becky January 24, 2014 at 10:20 am

use of masters credentials is also sometimes related to the field. For non-PhD.s in an academic setting it is quite common to use the masters credentials. But not so much in other fields.

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