Preferred Name

Washington University in St. Louis recognizes that many students prefer to use names other than their legal ones to identify themselves. As long as the use of this preferred name is not for the purposes of misrepresentation, the university acknowledges that a “preferred name” can and should be used where possible in the course of university education and communication. This policy is limited to first names and not surnames or family names. For non-U.S. citizens, the official name of record is the passport name.

Any student may choose to identify a preferred first name in addition to their official name of record. The university will attempt to display preferred first name to the university community where feasible and appropriate and make a good faith effort to update reports, documents and systems accordingly. As such, the student’s preferred first name may be used in the university directory, communications (e.g., press release to hometown newspapers), class rosters and other documents, except where the use of official name of record is required. The student’s official name of record will remain unchanged in all university-related systems and reports. Effective July 1st, 2017 campus identification cards for the Danforth Campus use only the preferred name.  Effective for the School of Medicine starting with students entering Fall 2017, ID cards will display the preferred name on the front side, with the official name of record in a smaller font on the back side.

A preferred name will not be shown on certain records, including paychecks, payroll records, transcripts, enrollment verification, medical records, financial aid documents and other records which require use of an official name of record. Students who wish to change their official name of record must submit official documentation (e.g., court order, divorce decree) directly to the Office of the University Registrar and Human Resources, if also employed.

Washington University reserves the right to deny or remove any preferred name for misuse, including but not limited to misrepresentation, attempting to avoid legal obligation, or the use of highly offensive or derogatory names, with or without notice.

Read more information for students regarding this policy, and visit WebSTAC, where students can add a preferred name to their record.

Special Note for Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSM):
WUSM will make a good faith effort to use preferred first names where feasible and appropriate. Some professional licensing requirements necessitate the official name of record be utilized. For example, ID badges produced for students doing clinical work at VA hospital locations are subject to strict federal guidelines that require use of the official name of record. In addition, all diplomas must utilize the official name of record to meet credentialing requirements.

Please contact the Office of the University Registrar with any questions regarding this policy and process.

Please Note: Under FERPA, the Family educational Rights and Privacy Act, a student’s name, including the preferred name, may be disclosed to the public as “directory information” unless the student opts not to permit such disclosure. To revoke the university’s disclosure of directory information, a student has the option of requesting privacy through WebSTAC. For more information, see the Office of the University Registrar’s FERPA & Privacy page.


Policy Definitions

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects student information.
The name legally given to an individual and documented on a birth certificate, passport, court order or certificate of naturalization.
The name of record is often the same as the legal name. However, the name of record directly refers to the name a student reports on the Admissions Application when applying to the university. This is the official name that Washington University connects to a student’s preferred name.
The office that maintains the academic records of all students and is the principal custodian of the university’s Student Information System.
A name commonly used that differs from an individual’s name of record.