How address a person with a PhD/Doctorate?



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Doctor of
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Doctor of Osteopathy            
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Doctorate        
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    Member of
     
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High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
          
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
   
Honourable, The
   
 
   

Indian Chief         
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Introductions       
Invitations
  
   Writing &  
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Late, The
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Miss      
Monk,
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Monsignor       
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Name Badges or Tags     
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Officer, Police     
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Pastor, Christian Clergy  
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People with Two Titles      
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     Representative        
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PhD     
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Principal      
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Professor
     
Pro Tempore,
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Queen

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Ranger, Texas        
Representative,
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   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Q&A / Blog On
       Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    
 

   3. Q&A / Blog on
       How to Address
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Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
      
Sergeant       
Sergeant at Arms
          
Seventh Day
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Sheriff       
Sister, Catholic       
Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
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Specialist       
Spouse of the
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The Honorable     
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    Person With

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of the U.S.
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Viscount and/or
   Viscountess        

Warrant Officer       
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Woman, business        
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Yacht Club Officer      


   

How to Address a Person with a PhD
How to Address a Person holding a Doctorate

     1) Holders of doctorates who work in academia or research institutions use Dr. (Name) professionally and socially.  Thus a PhD in biology doing research at the local university or lab probably uses Dr. and everybody thinks it's right.  Protestant clergy with doctorates typically use Dr. (Name) too.

    2) Holders of doctorates who work outside academia or research typically don't insist on
Dr.  Neither a PhD in finance at a Bank & Trust Company nor a PhD in American history working for for Xerox is likely to insist on being addressed as Dr.

    3) In hospitals (and some other healthcare environments as well) there is often a practice no one except the physicians (medical doctors, dentists, osteopaths,
podiatrists, veterinarians ... ) are addressed as Dr. (Name). This is out of consideration for the patients who want to know who are the doctors and who are nurses, support staff and allied professionals. It can be confusing with so many people walking around in white! 
     I have been told this makes for some unhappy PhD's in hospital administration, physical therapy and nursing, etc. who might prefer to be addressed as
Dr. (Name) too.  It's my understanding that all of these professionals might well be addressed as Dr. (Name) in other situations (teaching or consulting, for example). But for patients in the hospital, the practice makes sense.

    4) All that said, ultimately how one is addressed by others is up to the individual and usually everyone goes along.  For example, if you and I meet a woman who identifies herself as Monsignor Alice I think ... it is unlikely she's a Roman Catholic Monsignor.  And, it's unusual that she has only one name, like Fabian, Rhianna, Sting, Cher, or Madonna. But we should say to her -- Monsignor Alice, it's nice to meet you.  That's what she says her name is.  But, when she's out of range, we can talk about her.

     -- Robert Hickey

How to address a doctor?  See also ...
     How to address a dentist     
     How to address a chiropractor        
     How to address a medical doctor    
     How to address a military doctor  
     How to address a veterinarian     
     How to address doctor holding an academic doctorate    
     How to address an optometrist
     How to address an osteopath     


FYI, here is what's come in to the Blog that relates to this office/rank.
   For recent questions sent in, check out Robert Hickey's Blog.

   For specific offices/ranks, check out Robert Hickey's On-Line Guide.


Can I Call Myself a "Dr." with my PhD?
    I hold a DMA, Doctorate in Music from a Boston university, and am a Church Music Director. Please could you advise me as to whether it is acceptable for the church where I work to list me in the service bulletins as: Dr. (first name) + (last name)
                    -- CJ a Music Director at Church
 
Dear CJ:
    Academic doctorates are frequently used professionally: Faculty members with a PhD are usually "Dr. (name)" at the university or when speaking in the context of their degree. Scientists with a PhD are typically "Dr. (name)" at the research lab and at professional conferences.
    Socially? Usually academics and researchers use "Dr." socially. But ultimately whether a particular PhD holder is "Dr."
socially ... especially outside of academia or research ... is at the preference of the bearer.
    List yourself in the bulletin using the professional form ... which is "(First name) + (Last name), DMA"  It specifically acknowledges your academic credential in your professional domain.
     It however doesn't specify if you prefer to be addressed orally as "Dr. (name)" or "Ms. (name)."  In my book (page 160) I show
that outside academia or research in oral address "Ms. (name)" would be the default, but advises one check preference of the person you are addressing.
                       -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Know if a PhD Should Be Addressed as "Dr."?
   May I ask question regarding those with PhDs?  Would you please clarify for me -  if a person holds a PhD -  should Doctor be used in front of his name? I apologize if these questions are answered in your book! I'll try to get it.
     -- Mac Bozman, Council Bluffs

Dear Mr. Bozman:
    This 'doctor' question comes up often.
    Holders of medical doctorates (medical, osteopaths, dentists, podiatrist, vets...) use Dr. (Name) professionally and socially.
    Holders of academic doctorates in academia and research usually do too.
    Holders of academic doctorates outside of academia and research ... in corporate and business ... usually don't. E.g., every lawyer now-a-days is a JD ... doctor of jurisprudence, but none use
Dr. ... and a holder of a doctorate in finance at a bank probably doesn't either.
    So the good news is that if it's a doctor and if he works at a college or in scientific research ... you can address  him as
Dr. (Name) safely.
    And the bad news is with PhD's outside those arenas ... you will need to call to see what his or her preference is.
    The key is "the preference of the bearer" .... it's not up to me or you to decide when or if someone with a PhD is addressed as
Dr.   If that's what he or she want's I will go along with it. A person's name belongs to them.
                     -- Robert Hickey

May I Call Myself Dr. (Name) if my Degree
Is Not in the Field Directly Related to the
Professional Service I am Offering?

     Please help me. I have a PhD. I have also a license in counseling.  Recently I sent out an announcement for a yoga class I will be teaching.  The state of Colorado says I should not be using my name -- Dr. Kevin Schoffner. 
     They cannot see that someone does more then one thing. I have worked in clinical behavioral counseling/integrative health counseling. I've taught yoga at a hospital, have many articles and PR on my work, and always as
Dr. Kevin though I am not presenting myself as a clinical psychologist. When I have looked up the legality of this they say that any advanced degree can say PhD. I need to address this situation immediately.  I greatly appreciate your help.

 
      -- Kevin Schoffner, PhD, LPC, CMT, IKYTA
           Counseling, Yoga Therapy, Integrative Health & Healing

    I have an MD, but don't have a license to practice medicine. I now work as a naturopathic health consultant in the office an Osteopath. The State Medical Board has brought charges against me for practicing medicine without a license, even though I have every client sign a consent form which states that I have no medical license. Everyone calls me Dr.  –– Dr. is a academic title that I should be able to use.
 
      -- Dr. J.D.

Dear Drs. Schoffner & JD,
    So you have a PhD / MD.  In one instance it is not related to the service you are offering, and in the other, you are a health consultant addressed as "Dr." since you hold a doctorate, which happens to be an MD, but you have no medical license.
    A couple of typical practices I observe in the USA come to mind:
   
Professionals use with their name the degrees pertinent to their profession service. The degrees and certifications are provided for the benefit of the public so the public can quickly evaluate your credentials.
     Here's what I mean by pertinent. A pastor who would be The Reverend (Full Name) & Pastor (Name) at church on Sundays, would not use The Reverend (Full Name) & Pastor (Name) when teaching English, Monday through Friday, at the local high school. That he or she is
The Reverend might be mentioned in his or her complete biography or complete introduction.  It just wouldn't be part of her/her name at the school.
 
   So, I can see if you are using Dr. when offering a class in yoga, and your doctorate is not directly to the service you are offering, say a doctorate physical therapy or kinesthetics ... OR using Dr. in a doctors office advising on a healthcare topics  ..... it would be confusing to me ... and the state officials must think it is misleading to the public.
 
        -- Robert Hickey

Should I Use Dr. or Ph.D. on an Invitation?
      If a person holds a Ph.D., should his or her name be Dr. (name) a wedding invitation? Or (Name), Ph.D.? 
      Is this true for the father of the bride?
      The groom?
      Is the rule for names on wedding invitations and wedding envelopes different that the guidelines for social correspondence?
     -- Beverly Russell, Winchester, Virginia

Dear Ms. Russell:
     Wedding invitations and their envelopes are social correspondence. Post-nominal abbreviations (Ph.D. is a post nominal abbreviation) aren't used on social correspondence:
                DON'T use Ph.D.
                DO use Dr. (Name).

     Another question that typically comes up is whether to use Doctor or Dr. (spelled out or abbreviated) on the invitation or on the mailing envelope? The rule is to spell out everything and not to use abbreviations.
     But,
Mr., Mrs., Dr., and Ms. (for which there is no spelled-out version) are typically used on invitations and when addressing invitations in even the most formal circles. I think Doctor (Name) looks oh-so-highly precious, but I know some wedding planners who would wrestle me to the mat on that one.
            -- Robert Hickey


Not Finding Your Question Answered?
Below are other topics covered in my blog and at right is a list of officials, Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     After hunting around a bit, if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – with your name and any personal specifics changed.
      -- Robert Hickey

USE OF NAMES & HONORIFICS   
Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
 
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

USE OF SPECIFIC OFFICIAL TITLES        
Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services, Active Duty             
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
           
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
           
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
Business Cards       
Couples        
Etiquette
            
Flags and Anthem Protocol             
Introductions
            
Invitations: Writing & Addressing
        
Invitations: Just Armed Service Personnel        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
         
Thank You Notes             


Site updated by Robert Hickey on October 8, 2014

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