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What are Academic Transcripts?

Academic transcripts are more detailed documents that show what a student has studied and what their academic achievement or qualification was at different stages of the course they were enrolled in. It is typical for someone applying for a job or further education to be asked to provide an academic transcript of all their higher education in addition to a certificate or degree. It is also commonplace for an academic transcript to be translated into another language if the person who holds the qualifications is applying for a job or course in a country where the language is different.

Why are academic transcripts needed?

The main reason why an academic transcript is requested as presentation of a certificate, diploma or degree by itself doesn’t provide enough information about what the qualification was for or how it was achieved. Normally, when applying for a job, or a college or university course in another country, the admissions board or its equivalent will ask to see an academic transcript, or a translation of it if necessary, so that the holder’s progress and performance can be assessed and compared to the criteria necessary for admission.

What is the difference between an official and an unofficial academic transcript?

An unofficial transcript is one that may not meet the exacting criteria for acceptance by an admission board or employer. It is an incomplete description of a course with standards or marks achieved noticed at different stages, but the official stamp or seal of the issuing authority may be missing even if a senior educator or authority at the educational institution has signed their name at the bottom of the transcript. It can be hard for foreign bodies to be able to know whether someone’s educational qualifications are genuine or not unless the academic transcript provided comes in an approved format which is recognised by that authority. This is what would be called an official academic transcript. The official document will have some authentication marked on it which confirms that all the information provided is genuine and accurate according to the records of that institution.

What information does an academic transcript include?

The actual information included on a transcript depends on the course and qualification that the holder has undertaken. It will normally be broken up into the different subsections of the course followed and the marks or standard reached at different stages of that course as well as a description of the knowledge, skills and experience assessed for those marks or standards. If there was a practical component, e.g. as would be normal in a technical, teaching or nursing course, then the practical and theory components must be listed separately.

What’s the difference between an academic transcript and a certificate or degree?

The certificate or degree is the final qualification achieved, but will not have any other detailed information on the document apart from the standard reached and the subject, whereas the transcript is much more detailed.

Academic transcripts are often required by a university’s admissions committee because they show proof of education. It offers the selection committee some help when assessing the academic performance of an applicant. This is a document which must be presented when applying for a place in a foreign university.


It’s important to make sure you obtain an academic transcript for each of your main qualifications if you intend applying for a course or job overseas. If you need to get the transcript and other documents translated, make sure you choose a professional academic document translation agency to do the translation for you.