Should You Use MBA As A Suffix?

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

It was an innocent enough question, asked by architect Peter Castricone in a LinkedIn forum called MBA Highway two days ago.

“I sometimes see the term MBA used as a suffix to people’s names,” wrote Castricone, who got an MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver in 2009.  “Why? It’s a college degree, not a license. And don’t get me started on certifications. I’ve never seen this with any other degree.”

The question sparked a spirited online discussion, largely from MBAs who in fact make few apologies for including those three coveted letters behind their names. Few disagreed and no one trotted out the conventional argument that doing so suggests that the MBA who tacks on the degree to his or her name can be thought of as an insecure loser.

Consider David Vargha, a sales manager and trainer for Verizon at APR Consulting. He is clearly proud of the MBA he was awarded in May of last year from the University of Texas at Tyler. Vargha lists the degree under both “experience” and “education” on his LinkedIn profile, along with his 4.0 GPA. His reason for including it as a suffix: “Simply because it is a differentiator, that’s all. It allows somebody the opportunity see in two seconds that you have an MBA without having to dig through a profile.”

Or Barry Brinegar, a sales representative for Medtronic in Lexington, Kty., who insists he has “earned the right to self promote my degree” from Midway College. Says Brinegar, “I have knowledge specific to business and health and use the suffix as a measurement of achievement. I try to look at the positive in all things and apologize if MBA behind my name makes you think negatively about me or my qualifications.”

Fair enough.

Laura Starrett takes the whole idea up a few notches. How? She deploys a surfeit of acronyms behind her name: BS, MBA, PMP, CSM, ITIL. The director of programs at the Project Management Institute in New Hampshire, Starrett lists her MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. “I see it as one more tag that can bring appropriate business relationships to the surface faster,” she wrote in the forum. “Nothing more, nothing less. I use it for that purpose.”

Another commenter argues for more selective use. Lidia Tarzynski, finance director at a Chicago-based wholesaler of wood products, says “the only time I use my MBA suffix is on my business cards and e-mails for business. I don’t think there is any other appropriate use (beside the obvious, on a resume). While it does not exemplify the level of my experience, it is an introduction to my level of education and interest in my work.” Her MBA is from DePaul University.

Then, there is the dig from Stephen Patterson, a commercial manager at Resource in Ireland, who proudly lists his MBA from “The Open University” as a suffix.

”Peter,” he lectured, “it is a lot better to have MBA after your name when clients are looking at your profile than a cheesy photo of you holding a jacket over your shoulder trying to look cool.”

Peter took the jibe in jest. “Stephen,” he shot back, “thanks for the laugh. I like that pic! I think for now I will not use MBA after my name. I don’t even use the term architect as a suffix and I definitely earned that privilege.”

What do you think?

Air Time - Comments
  • tristan the great

    Two MBA or not to MBA behind your name, that is the question.
    My two cents worth
    Cent one. There seems to be a trend amongst those against the practice in which their arguments are based upon fallacious thinking. First, there is the ad hominem, “they are insecure” or “it’s a signifier of a second tier business school”. Then there is the anecdotal, “I know lots of MBA’s that were incompetent, got fired, blah blah blah”
    The irony to this is that if one has to tout their B school, or criticize where another went, then perhaps they are the insecure ones. I mean they did spend about $100k for the same degree that another at a state school spent a half or a third on the same thing.
    At any rate, there is no real evidence to support these claims.
    Cent two. I submit that it would depend that it depends upon the situation. Your business card or LinkedIn profile serve the same purpose as your resume, they are short summations of your qualifications and are used to get attention or create an impression. In that context, an MBA behind ones name could be appropriate.
    Conversely, for work emails within the organization, or for intra-agency communications within a group where the MBA is the norm, then it may not be appropriate. As in everything else, situation dictates.
    Tristan the Great, MBA.

  • K

    They? Talking about one person and you include “they”…stupid.

  • Beth

    I just received my MBA and am trying to decide whether to use it after my name. I feel slightly uncomfortable by doing so even though I am proud of managing to work full time and take care of my children while I earned the degree. I agree that the degree is not to be something taken lightly, It is not only expensive to achieve, it is a lot of work and many people begin the degree but don’t complete it.
    It looks like the discussion is going 50-50 on whether to use it. But with Forbes saying don’t do it — I am leaning to not listing it as a suffix. I will probably just put it in the education area of my LinkedIn account.
    You know, I have done a lot of hiring over the years and I remember being taken aback by the one or two people who listed the MBA after their names. (I didn’t have the MBA at the time) It appeared to me to be an overboard effort at trying to prove they have the skills/knowledge to do the work because they really didn’t have that much applicable experience. That was my “Blink” response (I am sure many of you have read that book). On the other hand I was optimistic in that the candidates with MBAs had additional knowledge that would/could be useful to the company.

  • xiromisho

    it certainly gives you the ins and outs of it – but Experience trumps all on a resume. Best way to get that experience as a fresh faced MBA grad? Start your own business or volunteer as a community leader for a non-profit.

    Those are your best bets.

  • xiromisho

    “The capability” sure- the funding, business sense, and know-how? Not so much…

    Fresh out of college you need experience, and as an MBA grad I know that. It’s why I did my MBA while working.. hard? Yes. Look great on a resume? Even better… but will I put it at the end of my name? I think I’ll skip it.

  • xiromisho

    if Forbes has it, then that’s good enough for me. One of my favorite publications and my go-to for up-to date fiance and IT news: If Forbes says I shouldn’t use it, then I’m going to be confident enough in not using “MBA” in my title going forward.

    Thanks guys!

  • AlCowpwn

    Run into (not run across)
    Look up the word irony. I have an MBA from a top-tier school and I believe it’s silly to put the three letters after one’s name but you sound like an idiot. You get a pit in your stomach? Grow up, drama queen.

  • Aldan

    Do you seriously believe that having MBA means that you have the capability to run any business or organization? LOL

  • jadkins1980

    You proved the point of those that DON’T have an MBA are the people that complain. It’s a personal decision and I don’t think it’s any persons business.

  • DeShun Parker, MBA

    Who cares about you all pet peeves. If you have a degree, you earned it, so it’s your perrogative whether you want to show the world your accomplishment or not.

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