Titles in English

05. february 2001

Guidelines for translation (Danish to English) of titles and degrees within the medical, academic, and health professional areas


In the International Secretariat of the Danish Medical Association (DMA) we have received regular inquiries from members and others about the translation of various medical and other titles and university degrees. Therefore, we produced these written guidelines for the use of members translating their curriculum vitae, holding presentations or publishing articles in international fora and periodicals.

The guidelines were prepared primarily for the use of the members of the DMA and designed for those working from Danish to English, although they may also be of some use in the other direction as well.

It should be borne in mind that titles and university degrees far from always correspond exactly to one another from country to country or from system to system. The following English translations have been gathered in consultation with the medical associations of the United States, Australia, England, Canada, Ireland, Israel, as well as with the British Council, the Danish Ministry of Health, the Danish Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Education, the Danish Council of Nurses and others.

Furthermore, not all countries have a single, specific title for a given function. For example, neither the United States nor England has a single title corresponding to the Danish title "administrerende overlæge" - the United States has at least two and England has at least three. In other words, this is not so much a matter of the science of translation but of tradition and practice.

It is our opinion that when a Danish physician travels outside the country, the most accessible translation of "cand. med." is "MD"
while "DMSc" is the most understandable translation of the Danish "dr. med." In other words, the name is written thus: Dagmar Hansen, MD, DMSc. If the person in question has a PhD instead of a dr. med., it can be indicated this way: Dagmar Hansen, MD, PhD. Alternatively, these titles can be shown with full stops: M.D., Ph.D.

There are some who prefer to use the Ph.D indication for "dr. med.", although the majority of those with whom we have consulted tend to use DMSc because of substantive differences between the PhD from country to country.

Finally, it is noteworthy that in Danish the abbreviation of an academic degree is used prior to the name rather than after it. In other words, in Denmark it would appear as "Ph.D. Dagmar Hansen", but in the United States or England and many other countries as "Dagmar Hansen, Ph.D."

This third edition of these guidelines are certainly not definitive, but is offered in the hope it may be of use. Our intention is to periodically update them. Comments, additions, etc. are most welcome and may be sent to the following e-mail address: sho@dadl.dk or er@dadl.dk.

Finally, these guidelines are copyright © Danish Medical Association. They may be cited in fair use with credit to the author and copyright holder, but may not be reprinted without explicit permission in writing.