When someone has earned a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree they are subsequently referred to as “doctor” in formal speech; the same is true of a person who is a medical doctor, psychologist, dentist or veterinarian. In formal speech that person should be referred to as “doctor.” However, the rules are different in written form when addressing someone ho is called “doctor” in formal speech. In written form the titles “Dr.” and “PhD” are not interchangeable.
Identify what type of doctor you are addressing. Doctors of medicine and psychology, doctors of dentistry, and doctors of veterinary medicine must be addressed differently in comparison to academic doctors who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy doctoral degree. Be advised that there are different types of doctoral degrees. A Doctor of Philosophy degree is just one kind of doctoral degree. There’s also, for example, a Doctor of Education (EdD) doctoral degree and a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) doctoral degree. The titles associated with the various doctoral degrees are not interchangeable. Only a person who has earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree should be addressed as PhD.
Place the title of “Dr.” before the name of a person who is a doctor of medicine or psychology, doctor of dentistry, or doctor of veterinary medicine. For example: Dr. George Ross. Always write the word “doctor” in its abbreviated form (“Dr.”) when it goes before the person’s name. Never write, for example, Doctor George Ross. Do not combine the title of “Dr.” with any other title even if the person could appropriately be addressed by a different title. Never write, for example, “Dr. George Ross, PhD,” even if the person is a medical doctor who has also earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Pick one title. Do not use the “Dr.” title when referring to someone who is solely an academic doctor.
Put a comma followed by the title “PhD” after the name of a person who has earned a Doctor of Philosophy doctoral degree. For example: Stacey Childs, PhD. Do not combine the title of “PhD” with any other title even if the person could appropriately be addressed by a different title. For instance, even if the person being addressed is a doctor of medicine who has also earned a PhD, never write, for example, Dr. Stacey Childs, PhD. Pick one title. Do not use the “PhD” title when referring to someone who not earned a Doctor of Philosophy doctoral degree.
- Pamela Follett/Demand Media