Carnegie Mellon University

Common University Terminology

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Academic degrees

Spell out and use lowercase for bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctor's degree or doctorate. Bachelor of arts degree, bachelor of science degree, master of arts degree or master of science degree also are acceptable, but not preferred. For a doctor's degree you may use Ph.D. and for a master's degree in business administration you may use MBA.

You can receive a doctorate OR a doctor's degree, but NOT a doctoral degree. Dr. should only be used in first reference as a formal title for a doctor of medicine. Examples:

  • He received a master's degree in engineering.
  • She earned a master of science degree in engineering.
  • They earned a bachelor's degree in architecture.
  • They received a bachelor of arts degree in music.

Academic departments

Capitalize the full names of departments. Example:

  • The English Department is pleased with the number of course offerings.

Use lowercase for the word "department" when it stands alone.

Capitalize the academic field when it's used to mean the department. Use lowercase for the field when it's used in a general sense. Examples:

  • She's a professor in the Department of Physics.
  • She's a physics professor.
  • She majored in physics.

Use lowercase for majors with the exception of languages, which are proper nouns. Examples:

  • Her major is physics.
  • He's an English major.

Academic programs

Capitalize the formal name of academic programs. "Bachelor" and "Master" are used without the "s." Examples:

  • Julie is in her second year in the Master of Arts Management program.
  • Rick is a senior in the Bachelor of Humanities and Arts program.


Spell out the full name for colleges, schools, departments, buildings, offices, etc. on the first reference followed by the acronym in parentheses. Use the acronym for every subsequent use. Example:

  • The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Department, located in the Facilities Management Services (FMS) building, provides important safety training for the university community. Training information is available on the EHS website and training sessions are often held in the FMS building.

Some common Carnegie Mellon acronyms include:

  • ACS | Andrew Carnegie Society
  • BCSA | Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts
  • BHA | Bachelor of Humanities and Arts
  • BSA | Bachelor of Science and Arts
  • BXA | Intercollege Degree Programs
  • CFA | College of Fine Arts
  • CMARC | Carnegie Mellon Advising Resource Center
  • CTTEC | Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation
  • DC | Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Dietrich College acceptable after first reference)
  • DSSC |Data Storage Systems Center
  • EHS | Environmental Health and Safety
  • ETC | Entertainment Technology Center
  • FMS | Facilities Management Services
  • FSO | Fellowships and Scholarships Office
  • HNZ | Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy (Heinz College acceptable after first reference)
  • INI | Information Networking Institute
  • MCS | Mellon College of Science
  • OURSD | Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development
  • PSC | Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
  • RAs | Resident assistants (use lowercase for this title)
  • SCS | School of Computer Science
  • SEI | Software Engineering Institute
  • SHS | Student Health Services
  • TAs | Teaching assistants (use lowercase for this title)
  • TPR | David A. Tepper School of Business (Tepper School acceptable after first reference)


This word construction is taken directly from its Latin origins. Therefore, the noun forms are gender specific: "alumna" refers to one woman; "alumnae" refers to a group of women; "alumnus" refers to one man; "alumni" refers to a group of men or a group of men and women. It's rare to see the feminine plural form, "alumnae." Most often the form "alumni" is used for any group of graduates.

Alumni designations

See Indicia.


Board of trustees

Board of trustees should be capitalized only when referring to Carnegie Mellon's board, but "board" by itself is not capitalized, nor is "trustees." Examples:

  • Carnegie Mellon University's Board of Trustees will meet in November.
  • The board will meet in November with most trustees attending.


All proper names of buildings, such as Jared L. Cohon University Center, should be capitalized. Terms such as "north wing" and "new residence hall" should not be capitalized, unless they are used in the title. Examples:

  • The Gates Center for Computer Science and Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies are connected to the Purnell Center via the Pausch Bridge.
  • The centers were dedicated in September 2009.
  • The Tepper Building is the first building on the Tepper Quad, an intersection of business, technology and analytics. 


The proper name for this traditional event is "Sweepstakes," but it is more commonly known as Buggy. The races are held every year during Spring Carnival.

  • Buggy, also known as "Sweepstakes," is unique to CMU since 1920.


Centers, institutes and programs

The formal names of centers, such as the Center for Bioimage Informatics, should be capitalized, but "center" by itself should be in lowercase. The same rules apply to institutes and programs. Examples:

  • The Software Engineering Institute hosts seminars.
  • The institute will welcome dozens of affiliates.
  • The Center for Behavioral Decision Research was founded in 2005.
  • The center supports and promotes research on decision-making.
  • The Bachelor of Humanities and Arts Degree Program allows students to combine their interests.
  • The program is sponsored by the Dietrich College and the College of Fine Arts.

Collective nouns

The collective nouns "faculty" and "staff" are singular nouns. If you wish to use a plural construction, use "members of the faculty/staff" or "faculty/staff members." Examples:

  • The faculty is represented by Faculty Senate.
  • Members of the faculty are dedicated researchers and teachers.
  • The Carnegie Mellon staff is a dedicated group.


The Pittsburgh campus ceremony in May is the only Carnegie Mellon commencement and should be referred to in lowercase. All other campus/program ceremonies should be referred to as "graduation ceremonies," and events in which graduates receive their diplomas can be called "diploma ceremonies."


Capitalize the formal names of groups and committees, such as Faculty Senate, Long-Range Planning Committee, President's Student Advisory Council. Use lowercase for the words
"committee" or "council" when they stand alone.

The Cut

Capitalize the "C": the Cut.



See Academic degrees.

Donor designations

Many buildings, centers and rooms are named for Carnegie Mellon donors. It is important to use the full name for each of these spaces on first reference. For example, write "The Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace" first, and use the common name of "Intelligent Workplace" thereafter.


The Fence

Capitalize the "F": the Fence.



Use lowercase for cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.



When referencing the college and year of graduation for alumni, use the appropriate college code (these may be different than the college acronyms listed) and four digits of the graduation year in parentheses after the name. There should a space between the college code and graduation year. Please use the college indicia, not degrees or programs.

In writing for all audiences other than alumni, please avoid using college codes and indicia. Write out the graduation year, major and college if needed. Examples:

  • Zachary Quinto (CFA 1999) played Spock in the Star Trek movie. (for alumni audiences only)
  • Stephen Schwartz, a 1968 graduate of the College of Fine Arts, received the Isabelle Stevenson Award at the June 2015 Tony Awards ceremony.

For alumni who have earned multiple degrees from the same college, list the college followed by the graduation years. Example:

  • John Green (CFA 1999, 2001, 2003) was the recipient of the Alumni Distinguished Service Award.

For alumni who have earned multiple degrees from different colleges, list the college and graduation year(s), followed by the second college and graduation year. Example:

  • Daniel Nagin (TPR 1971, 1971; HNZ 1976) received the 2014 Stockholm Prize in Criminology.

College acronyms when using indicia for alumni audiences only:

  • CFA | College of Fine Arts
  • CMU | Joint College Programs
  • SCS | School of Computer Science
  • ENG | College of Engineering
  • HON | Honorary Doctorate
  • HNZ | Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy
  • DC | Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • MM | Margaret Morrison Carnegie College
  • MCS | Mellon College of Science
  • TPR | Tepper School of Business



Carnegie Mellon's mascot is a Scottish terrier named Scotty.


Office of undergraduate admission

The Office of Undergraduate Admission prefers usage of "admission" in the singular form. Examples:

  • The Office of Undergraduate Admission will host an information session in New York.
  • Carnegie Mellon's holistic admission process is about more than just admitting a group of students who have the potential to succeed academically.

Note: CMU does not handle graduate admission centrally. Each graduate program handles its own admission process.



Do not capitalize semesters in text.

Example: Spring Carnival takes place during the spring semester; Homecoming occurs in the fall semester.

Student classifications

Do not capitalize "first-year," "sophomore," "junior," "senior," "postdoctoral fellow" or "graduate student." Capitalize only when using a class designation in a formal title. (The term "first-year" is preferred over "freshman.") Examples:

  • He's a senior engineering major.
  • The Class of 2013 donated a clock.

For graduate students, use the degree they are pursuing. Examples:

  • He's a master's degree candidate in engineering and public policy.
  • She's a Ph.D. student in English.
  • He's a doctoral candidate in computer science.



Carnegie Mellon athletic teams are nicknamed the "Tartans" as a nod to Andrew Carnegie's Scottish heritage. Tartan is a twilled woolen fabric with a very specific plaid design.


A person's title is capitalized only when used before the name. When using a capitalized title immediately before the name, try to keep it short. Do not capitalize an occupational designation, only a true title. Examples:

  • We met President Farnam Jahanian.
  • The president will speak at the dinner.
  • Our speaker will be artist and professor Ayanah Moor.

Titles following a person's name should be lowercase; however, the name of the specific division or area should be capitalized. Use lowercase when a title is used alone. Examples:

  • The president of Carnegie Mellon University will address the group.
  • Gina Casalegno, dean of Student Affairs, will host the reception.
  • Stan Waddell, former associate vice president for Computing Services, was promoted to vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

Chaired professorships appear in uppercase. A University Professor, the highest distinction faculty can receive, also should be uppercase. Examples:

  • Andres Cardenes, the Dorothy Richard Starling and Alexander C. Speyer Jr. Professor of Music, donated his Stradivarius violin to the School of Music.
  • Her years of hard work were acknowledged when she earned the rank of University Professor.