What is an Academic Transcript? Why is it Needed and How to Get it?

By Neha Kumari Updated On - Mar 28, 2022 11:34 AM

Know by many names, Academic Transcripts or Academic Records are a set of documents with records of all the subjects you've studied, grades obtained, subject-wise marks, degrees and awards given by the institution of study.

During admission processes, applicants are usually asked to submit Transcript of Records (ToR) or Academic Transcripts as part of their application. These transcripts or documents aid the higher educational institutions in gauging the abilities, qualifications and understanding of the candidate for a particular course.

What is a Transcript?

Transcripts are a set of documents to show the student’s records of studies like the courses completed, grades obtained, subject wise marks, degrees and awards. It is an official document awarded to students by schools, colleges and universities. It is popularly known as mark sheet and pass certificate in India and is also referred to as academic record, school transcripts, college transcripts etc. 

The official academic documents are printed and have the valid signature of the counsellors, registrar or principal and have a stamp of the academic institution.

Each academic transcript contains the following details of students:

  • Students identification details like the Student's Name, Parents' /Guardians' Name, Date of Birth, Year of Passing etc.

  • Institutions identification details like Name of the Institution, Address etc.

  • Course Details like Degree, Title of the Course, Duration, etc.

  • Other details like Start Date of the Course, Date of Receipt of Degree, Percentage, Subject-wise marks etc.

Importance of Academic Transcripts

Academic transcripts are among the most important documents needed to apply for admissions in colleges/institutions/universities for higher education both internationally and nationally.

An official transcript is the source to authenticate the academic background of the students like their previous qualifications, grades and the institution from where the previous studies have been completed. Thus, every student must maintain and preserve the academic transcripts for any future enterprises.

While filling in the application form for admissions at higher education institutions, students are required to upload/ send some mandatory documents and an Academic Transcript is one of them. Without an official academic document, none of the higher education institutions offers admissions to a candidate. 

Also Read: Statement of Purpose (SOP): Format, Writing Tips and Requirements

Academic transcripts are only a part of the whole study abroad application process. There is so much more to it, and some, like SOP and LORs, might even need you to have writing skills and much more! Consult our resident experts to help you with your application process and approach your dream of studying abroad confidently and prepared. Learn more with our Experts

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Official vs Unofficial Academic Transcript

Official documents are printed and duly signed by an authorized official of schools/colleges/universities. Universities across the globe, only accept official documents for admission purposes. However, there can be times when the schools/colleges take some time to release the official transcripts. In such cases, students can use unofficial academic transcripts while filling out application forms and submit official documents as and when the official documents have been received.

Unofficial academic transcripts are nothing but photocopies or digital copies of the official academic records. In cases where unofficial academic transcripts can be used to complete the application form at an institution, students can send the downloaded copies, photocopies or fax copies of the transcripts to the institution. The unofficial academic transcripts contain all the details of the students except the official signature and stamps.

How to Receive Transcripts?

The academic transcripts are released by the academic institution from where the student has completed their studies. In other words, school certificates as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degree certificates (if completed), are counted as academic transcripts of Transcripts of Record.

To collect official academic transcripts, students or graduates will be required to connect with their respective schools/universities and request for the same. In most cases, schools and universities offer official academic transcripts around the time of graduation ceremonies. While some universities accept soft copies of academic transcripts for admission purposes, it is important to collect hard copies of the academic transcripts as many universities still require applicants to submit hard copies of the relevant academic transcripts.

Those who are in the final year of their studies or whose results are awaited may request provisional transcripts from the institutions and submit them with the application. It will be needed as proof of completion of studies while applying for higher education. 

Also Read: What is Grade Point Average (GPA) & How is it Calculated?

When to Request an Academic Transcript?

As stated above, applicants need academic transcripts for the purpose of admissions to universities abroad. However, depending on the current situation of the applicant, i.e. whether they are studying at an institution at the time of submitting the application form or have cleared and passed out of an institution, the need for requesting an academic transcript will differ.

In most cases, study abroad aspirants have been found to be in the final year of their schooling, undergraduate or graduate courses. In these cases, applicants must request for provisional/unofficial academic transcripts that they will need to submit when applying to a university abroad. However, if the candidate applying to study abroad has already graduated from their school/college/university, they need not request for an academic transcript, as usually, universities would have sent out the academic transcripts by the time the applications need to be submitted.

However, there are certain academic transcripts, like a backlog certificate, wherein an applicant will be required to prove that they have cleared all the subjects at their previous academic institution. Students will be required to ask their previous institution to offer a backlog certificate, validating that the applicant has indeed passed all their exams.

Nevertheless, to answer the question, "when to request an academic transcript?", the ideal time to request for the appropriate academic transcript to study abroad should be at least 1-2 weeks before needing to submit the application form.

Acceptable Formats of an Academic Transcript

The following academic transcript formats are usually accepted by universities while assessing international applications. However, this may vary from one university to another;

  • A scanned version of an official transcript: This will include a signature or stamp to certify it. It should be readable but watermarks caused by scanning or copying may be acceptable;

  • An official e-transcript obtained from a third-party electronic system: You can also share an official transcript if you have access to an electronic system like Digitary. The same will then be added to the rest of your application;

  • An electronic copy of a provisional or interim transcript provided by your institution: In case you are not able to provide an official transcript because you are still enrolled or currently studying and final results have not been released, you may submit an interim academic transcript;

  • Screenshot images: This will be allowed if you are unable to obtain a transcript document;

  • A Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) certificate;

  • A Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).

Difference Between a Degree, Diploma and Academic Transcript

Academic transcripts and degree/diploma certificates are different sets of academic documents, proving different aspects of an applicant's previous academic ventures. Transcripts are a compilation of different mark sheets and other documents proving a candidate's academic rigour, including degree/diploma certificates. It contains documents and information on Class X, Class XII, undergraduate studies, graduate studies and postgraduate studies. Marks and grades of all academic studies are compiled together to form academic transcripts.

On the other hand, a degree/diploma certificate is a single document that is offered to a student in India who completes a degree programme at a higher educaiton level, i.e. undergraduate or postgraduate level. While a student may have multiple mark sheets of different years of studies and subjects, a degree certificate or pass certificate is only granted to a degree holder. Both mark sheets and degree certificates are required for admissions in universities for higher education which together are referred to as academic transcripts.

Academic Transcripts: Important Things to Keep in Mind

Academic Transcripts are one among the many documents that a student needs to submit at the academic institution while planning to study abroad

While different countries have varied education and grading systems, the institutes either convert or ask the applicants to convert their grades/marks into an acceptable format for the purpose of admissions. In a bid to ensure uniform and fair selection process, students will be asked to follow certain guidelines for submitting the correct academic transcripts.

There are certain pointers that students must keep in mind while submitting academic transcripts at any college or university abroad which have been listed below:

  • All academic transcripts must be clear and readable.

  • The information printed on the academic transcript must be in English or any other acceptable language defined by the institution of your choice. If the academic transcript is in a language not recognised or accepted by the institution of choice, the student must get it translated into the acceptable language/s. It should be noted that some universities may lay down rules about translation, which could include requiring the document translation to be done by a verified and authorised body.

  • While provisional/unofficial academic transcripts can be submitted at the time of submitting your application form, the final academic transcript submitted at the institution must be official.

  • Ensure that the academic transcript, whether official or unofficial, is void of all grammatical or spelling mistakes.

  • Ensure that all information mentioned in the transcript is correct. It is advisable to cross-check all the details when collecting the transcript.

  • For admissions to undergraduate courses, the academic transcripts will include their Secondary School reports, i.e. Class 12 report, or, if applicable, a Pre-University Education or Undergraduate Diploma.

  • For graduate studies, the academic transcripts will include academic reports of the undergraduate (Bachelor's) courses.

  • If you are studying in the final year of course, i.e. Class 12 or the final year of your bachelor's or master's degree, request your school/university/department to offer you provisional transcripts in compliance with the rules stipulated for your admissions.

  • When applying to any university abroad, find out the document checklist for admissions and see if you are required to submit a backlog certificate. Several popular universities across the globe require its applicants to provide a backlog certificate to ensure that they have no backlogs at the previous academic programme or institution.

To know more about the study abroad admission process and queries, write to us at abroad@collegedekho.com. One of our counsellors will help you with all your questions and doubts. 

Still Have Doubts About Academic Transcripts?

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