Degree Abbreviations

Some Harvard degree abbreviations appear to be backwards because they follow the tradition of Latin degree names. The traditional undergraduate degrees awarded by Harvard University are the A.B. and S.B. The A.B. is an abbreviation of the Latin name for the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree “artium baccalaureus.” The S.B., Latin for “scientiae baccalaureus,” is the Bachelor of Science (B.S.). Likewise A.M., equivalent to the Master of Arts (M.A.), is Latin for “artium magister”; and S.M., equivalent to the Master of Science (M.S.), is Latin for “scientiae magister.” The more recent A.L.M. (Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies) degree translates to “magistri in artibus liberalibus studiorum prolatorum.”

Harvard does not write all degrees backwards, however. Ph.D. is an abbreviation for the Latin “philosophiae doctor,” translated as “Doctor of Philosophy.” M.D., Doctor of Medicine, stands for the Latin “medicinae doctor.” J.D., Latin for “juris doctor,” is the Doctor of Law degree.

Some degrees are too new to have Latin names, though the abbreviations appear to be backwards. In many of these cases, Harvard kept the “reverse” abbreviations because of tradition. Examples include degrees of the Harvard Extension School such as the A.L.B. (Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies) and the A.A. (Associate in Arts).

Honorary degree abbreviations are also based on the Latin name. The Latin abbreviations are used by many universities. The honorary degree names and abbreviations are:

A.M. artium magister Master of Arts
Art.D. artium doctor Doctor of Arts
D.D. divinitatis doctor Doctor of Divinity
L.H.D. litterarum humanorum doctor Doctor of Humane Letters
Litt.D. (also LTD) litterarum doctor Doctor of Letters
LL.D. legum doctor Doctor of Laws
Mus.D. musicae doctor Doctor of Music
S.D. scientiae doctor Doctor of Science