bachelor/bachelors/bachelor's degree (and same for masters)?

How do you refer to academic degrees collectively, i.e. bachelor or masters?

For example:
Candidates must have a masters degree in order to...
Candidates should obtain a bachelor degree before...

I've been all over the internet and have found just about every variation on these two terms: with and without s, and with and without apostrophes, and with apostrophes before and after the s.

Does anyone have the conclusive answer?
My "hunch" says: masters degree but bachelor's degree, but put next to each other, that doesn't look right either!!

Thanks so much for your help


  • Think of the degree as the property of the bachelor, with the apostrophe-s indicating possession: It is a bachelor's degree. The same is true for a master: He or she earns a master's degree.

  • i'm having a similar discussion about greengrocer being a person, not a place, with the place being the greengrocer's. then the OED goes and gives the example "East Greenwich is desperately in need of a proper greengrocers". even the dictionary seems to get it wrong

  • Hi @nwells85 @skhaliq80 @Sakhalingirl

    That's a good point you all raised there, and an interesting discussion.
    About the example sentence from the OED mentioned by @skhaliq80:

    Our dictionaries are not prescriptive - we don't create or impose senses for words or expressions, nor do we create the example sentences which are presented with the words.
    Instead, it records the way people use words and phrases.
    So the example sentence you saw there was taken from a real instance of people using 'greengrocers' without an apostrophe.

    As languages change and evolve all the time, sometimes a use that was originally considered wrong becomes accepted as it is progressively adopted over time.
    I am not saying that this is already the case with 'greengrocers', but the example sentence just reflects the way people are already using it.

  • I for one unreservedly accept the spelling a greengrocers.

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