A business card can make or break your personal brand. You want to look professional and highly revered, but you also don’t want to sound arrogant. It’s a fine, fine line, and if you miss the mark, you might miss out on business. For this reason, you might want to list your degree on your business card, but it’s a slippery slope.
There’s definitely a certain MBA business card etiquette. On one hand, a master’s degree – especially in business – is a huge accomplishment that requires years of dedication. On the other hand, it’s not something traditionally listed on a business card. That doesn’t mean you can’t list a master’s degree on a business card, but it can look a little cliche if you’re not doing it the right way.
Only List a Master’s Degree Related to Your Profession
Sure, it’s great that you got a master’s in playing saxophone, but unless you’re networking with the New York Philharmonic, it’s going to look positively bizarre to list your sax major on the business card for your financial consulting business. This goes for listing a bachelor’s degree on a business card as well (which you should actually just avoid entirely unless most people in your profession haven't graduated from any sort of college at all).
Proper MBA business card etiquette requires you to only list a master’s degree on your business card that actually contributes to your current profession. If you’re a creative writing master and you’re networking with publishing houses – fantastic. If you have an MFA but you’re pursuing a career as a yoga teacher – leave it out. Similarly, if you have two master’s, opt for the one related to your career rather than both.
List a Master's Degree on a Business Card With the Initials
Business cards should always be sleek, simple and easy to read. You don’t need a lot of clunky text that confuses people. For example, listing a bachelor’s degree on a business card along with an MBA or Ph.D. is poor MBA business card etiquette. It’s simply too much and comes across as braggy.
Instead, place the initials of your degree program after your name on the business card and separate the two with a comma. For example, you might want to list a business administration master’s degree as “John Smith, MBA." For a master’s in hospitality, you’d want to list “John Smith, MMH." Similarly, you’d list a Ph.D. as “John Smith, Ph.D.” or “Dr. John Smith” (either is acceptable, but in this case, you might want to differentiate between which kind of doctorate you actually received).
What if I Have an Uncommon Master’s Degree?
Bizarre majors exist and they’re certainly valuable. We don’t all have a regular MBA. In this case, you might want to spell out your degree program underneath your name on your business card so people who aren’t necessarily familiar with your niche can see your exact field. For example, it’s a safe bet most people don’t know what a GISP MSCE is. In this case, you might want to list your degree as:
Geographic Information Systems Professional
Master of Science In Civil Engineering
Pick a smaller font for your job title and degree name and don’t ever include the year you graduated. Even if you have a common degree like a master’s of business administration, listing your graduation year is poor MBA business card etiquette. You don’t need to age yourself, and it’s actually illegal for job interviewers to ask for your age. Keep that information private while showing off your expertise.
Also avoid listing your bachelor’s degree on your business card, especially if you’re already listing your master’s.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.