Academic and Administrative Designations and Capitalization

Academic and Administrative Designations and Capitalization

The decision whether or not to capitalize a word depends on many factors including the word's position in a sentence and its function.

Titles are capitalized when they immediately precede names and are used as part of the names.


  • Chancellor Dr. Mukund Kulkarni said …
  • Associate Professor Cynthia Mara said …

Titles are lowercased if they follow names or are used to help describe or identify people further.


  • David Morand, professor of management, …


  • instructor in, not instructor of
  • professor emeritus, not emeritus professor
  • professor of, not professor in
  • research associate in, not research associate of

Note: It is redundant to refer to someone as:

  • Dr. Ann Lastname, Ph.D.
  • Use either Dr. Ann Lastname or Ann Lastname, Ph.D.

When the title includes the specific name of an academic or administrative unit, the name of the unit is capitalized.


  • Donna J. Howard, assistant director of Campus Life and Intercultural Affairs

Department/office names

When referring to office names and administrative areas: capitalize the formal name of the office, but use lowercase informally.

  • Jason had an appointment in the Office of Student Aid.
  • Carmen was late leaving the student aid office.

Do not capitalize the reference to a general administrative area of the University in which a person works, but when referring to the proper name, it may be capitalized.

  • She has worked in food service for fifteen years.
  • She has worked in Housing and Food Services for fifteen years.


Capitalize when it is the formal name of campus program: Campus Honors program; Penn State Harrisburg Honors Program

Lowercase in informal use: honors program, honors student, honors courses