It's a strange thing to get used to at first,
seeing those three little letters everywhere
before every name. Well, almost every
name — the names that deserve it. The
names that have earned it:
It's an abbreviation for "magister," and it appears
before the names of all people who have completed the basic,
five-year Polish university education. What it would be translated
to in English is a little tricky, though.
Technically, it's a Master's Degree. But in many ways, it's
more like a Bachelor's Degree. The main differences are the
time-frame (five years as opposed to four), the course work
(i.e., the total number of hours, though I'm not convinced
a mgr equals a BA + MA as far as total course hours goes),
and a required thesis. Of course most universities in the
States don't require a thesis for a BA and don't require five
years of study; on the other hand, the entire fifth year is
more or less spent writing the thesis, so a Polish university
education is four years of course work, just as an American
The major difference, I would say, comes after completion
of the degree. That annoying title, "mgr," prefaces
names in every conceivable context. And when you think
about it, it's a little ludicrous, at least for an egalitarian
American like me.
Imagine the American equivalent: Gary Scott, MA. Or worse: Gary
Scott, BA. I tell myself that even if I had a doctorate, I
wouldn't want "PhD" appended to my name all over
the place. But at least I concede that a doctorate is deserving
of that recognition and honor. But a Master's Degree?
It's especially annoying when one considers the fact that a
"magister" degree here is the basic university level
education. So in that way, it's most decidedly not like the
American MA, which is a step above the basic university education.
I want to scream sometimes when I see a line of "mgr's"
in a list of personnel, "Jeez people, you completed your
country's basic university education! Stop bragging about
xyz pzc hba Gary Scott
If you do complete graduate studies in Poland, you get to include
even more initials before your name! Below are a sampling
||After seven semesters,
you get an "engineering" degree. Three
more semesters and successful defense of your thesis
gets you the magic three letters: "mgr"
degree — eight more semesters
||A bit of a mystery, it
seems. You have to defend additional research and
you become "habilitated."
| prof. dr hab
|prof. dr hab inz
||Tenured professorship if
you happened to get the "inz." first.
RIP xyz pzc hba Gary Scott
are one thing in life. At the very least, they show the relative
qualifications of an individual to speak on a given topic.
In death, they're certainly seem to be empty vanity. But, nonetheless,
at least one grave I've seen includes the "mgr"