Emory University Preferred Student Name Policy

Preferred Name

Emory University will begin a phased implementation of the Preferred Name Student Policy in spring 2017. The goal of the Preferred Student Name policy is to provide students a consistent preferred name experience across University systems and use of one's preferred name wherever legal name is not absolutely necessary. Emory University’s infrastructure is multi-faceted and complex, and while many systems already reflect a person's preferred name, there are still many other systems where the implementation of preferred name is forthcoming. 

Preferred Name Background

Emory University recognizes that students may wish to use a name other than their given names as recorded on official University documents.  When designed by a student, the University will use a preferred first/middle name except where use of the official name is required by University business or legal need.

Beginning in the Spring 2017 semester, the University will enable students to use a preferred student name, as described below.  Updates will be communicated to the campus community as any necessary changes are updated to support this policy.

Preferred Name Guidelines

Students may enter a preferred first name through Emory University’s Student Information System (OPUS) regardless of whether or not they have legally changed their name.  Preferred names that differ from an individual’s legal name will only be used on Emory’s campus in situations where student’s legal name is not required by University business or legal need.  All external reporting of student name must by law use legal name. 

Former students and alumni are also able to set a preferred first/middle name in OPUS, but they are encouraged to contact the Department of Alumni Relations (DAR) to verify that the preferred first/middle name will also be used in communications sent by that department.

Places Where Preferred First Name Is Used

  • OPUS Student Self Service
  • OPUS Advisor Self Service Center
  • OPUS Instructor Self Service Center
  • Class and Grade Roster
  • Instructor Name on Class Search and Student Schedule
  • Unofficial/Advising Documents
  • Adirondack/My Housing
  • Emory Online Directory (unless directory suppressed)

Places Where Legal First Name Must Be Used

  • Student Financial Accounts
  • Financial Aid
  • Emory Card
  • Responses to enrollment enquiries such as verification requests
  • Official transcripts and diplomas
  • Student employee/payroll information
  • Emergency Responder and Enforcement Systems (Parking, Police, etc.)
  • Internal systems that require and can only accommodate Legal Name
  • All external communications and reporting

Emory University supports many systems outside of OPUS.  If students are interacting with a business unit on campus and they are not using preferred name, please contact the Office of the Registrar for assistance.

Keeping Your Identity Private

Under FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, directory information may be disclosed to the public.  At Emory, directory information includes but is not limited to, the student’s legal name and preferred name.  A student who does not want to be included in the directory can withhold directory information.

How to Add/Change Preferred Name in OPUS

Frequently Asked Questions


You may set or update your preferred name by logging into your OPUS account: Please see Preferred Name Tutorial for instructions.

No. Only you as a student with access to your OPUS account can update your preferred name.

Preferred name may be used in cases where legal name is not absolutely necessary. Examples of where your primary/legal name are necessary include, but are not limited to, financial aid documents, payroll, official transcripts, diplomas, and federal immigration documents.

Preferred Name will display on most Student Self Service Panels with the following exceptions: to do list, online admission deposit page, emergency notification, parent/guardian addresses, religious preference, health insurance waiver pages (all), Ask OPUS, and academic calendar deadlines.

Once you enter a preferred first name, within 24 hours this name will be available in MyNetlD for your use as part of your Emory email address. To use your preferred first name in your email address, you must login to MyNetlD and select it. To learn more go to mynetid.emory.edu.

If a preferred first name exists in OPUS, this name will appear in the Emory on-line directory and in the Global Address List within 24 hours. The on-line directory is available to the public and anyone doing a search on your last name will be able to view this information.

Changing your primary/legal name in University systems to a preferred name can have ripple effects throughout your day-to-day experiences. Changing your preferred name more than once can lead to confusion regarding your identity, challenges in customer service, and/or the interruption of your ability to access some University systems.

Preferred first names can be up to 30 characters in length and should only include standard European characters. Emory 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.

If you have entered a preferred name and later decide that you would prefer to use your primary/legal name everywhere on campus, simply go to Preferred Name Tutorial. Note: it may take up to 24 hours for the change to take effect.

Preferred name will display in OPUS the day after change is made.

Preferred name is for use within the university community. International students may feel free to select a preferred name for on-campus use. However, this does not apply in situations where one's legal name is required to be used. For the purpose of F-1 or J-1 student visa status, the legal name must be used on l-20s and DS-2019s. An individual's legal name is what appears on the passport.

The name of the instructor will display the professional or preferred name whichever has been defined.