The University Transcript: What Exactly is It and Why is It Important?

The transcript is an official summary of your academic performance and progress to date. It is one of the key documents you have to submit when you are applying for admission to a doctoral or master’s program of studies in an American college or university (the others are the statement of purpose, recommendation letters, a resume and of course your GRE and TOEFL scores). In order for the transcript to be acceptable to American universities as an official document, it must conform to the following specifications – it should be:

  • printed on the university or college letterhead
  • signed by the appropriate college or university authorities i.e. the college principal or registrar or the university registrar
  • in the format required by American universities (not in the ordinary mark sheet format usually provided by Indian colleges and universities)

Finally, the transcript should also be sent to the American university in a sealed envelope bearing the stamp and signature of the appropriate authorities as indicated in the illustration below.

Remember that a transcript is not merely a mark sheet, nor is it the same thing as a degree certificate. A degree certificate just says you have certain qualifications but, a transcript provides several additional details. That is, apart from the name of the course you studied, the duration of your studies, the date of completion of the course and the name of the college or university where you studied (some of which are already in the degree certificate) the transcript also gives the following:

  • information about your course of study – the examination scheme and a comprehensive mark sheet and
  • the histories and highlights of your college and your university

As you can see from this, a transcript also contains much more information than a standard mark sheet usually does. An overview of the items covered by or included in the transcript is given below:

  • a ‘bona fide certificate’
  • the examination scheme
  • the ‘mark sheet’ section
  • the highlights and history of your college or university (in brief)

For a more detailed description click here. Click here to download a sample transcript.

Having read all this, you now know:

  • the difference between a degree certificate, a mark sheet and a transcript
  • you also know the details that must be included in your transcript and
  • the specifications it must meet in order to be acceptable to American universities as an official document

You also have access to a sample transcript

Our next transcript blog will explain the various types of transcript and why these types are required.