What Is a Transcript of Records and When Do Students Need One?

by Martina Ottani

When you’re preparing for a study experience abroad, whether as an exchange student for a semester or two, or for completing a full Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, you need to go through an extensive ‘paperwork’ process. The transcript of records is one of those important documents you’ll have to take care of and make sure the information is properly filled in.

The transcript of records is closely linked with the learning agreement plan, which is an official document that specifies the courses, research and training/teaching activities you are supposed to achieve during your mobility. The learning agreement has to be signed and approved by both your home university and the host institution and any change should be agreed by all three parties (the universities and yourself).

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The Learning Agreement and the transcript of records mainly represent the academic recognition of your studies and the credits you earned during your study abroad program.

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So what exactly is a transcript of records?

The Transcript of Records is a document you will need to present, as part of the application process at your future host university from abroad. If you will be part of an exchange programme, you will also need another transcript of records at the end of your study period, completed by the university where you attended courses.

The Transcript of Records (ToR) consists basically of a list of the course units taken, the exams you have passed and the credits gained.

In the Transcript of Records, you can usually see:

  • the course unit code (basically the code the host university gives to a specific academic course),
  • the title of the courses you have attended at your host university,
  • the duration of the course (if one semester or two),
  • the local grade (your exam mark, which is very important in order to get your ECTS credits)
  • the ECTS credits you have gained by passing the exam.

In case your home university does not use the ECTS system, the transcript of records should include an explanation of the credit and grading systems used. If you’re submitting the ToR online, you can describe the grading scale used at the institution at the time of study. The description should clarify which are the highest and lowest grades.

Depending on the rules set by each university, the transcript of records can be filled by yourself or the home and/or host university, usually the International Office. Normally, the ToR is being filled once you have passed all your exams included in the Learning Agreement, and, usually, the failed courses won’t be listed, just the ones you passed.

When to request a Transcript of Records?

Because the transcript of records contains the list of the exams passed (or failed) during your exchange program, it is one of the last documents you would normally fill in or ask for.

To ensure you won’t have to wait too long for this document to be completed 100 %, once you pass an exam, you can ask your professor to write in your Transcript of Records rough copy your exam result in the “Local Grade” part, while the other parts should be filled by you with all the information needed.

When your Transcript of Records is completed, all you have to do is deliver it to your home International Office together with the rest of the required documents for application.

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What happens if I have to leave and the Transcript of Records is not ready?

This is a common situation, especially in the case of Erasmus students. Normally, the exams take place in the very last weeks of the Erasmus period and getting all the grades in a very short time makes the process for filling the transcripts a little slow. But you don’t have to worry!

Your home of host institution should be able to provide an official interim transcript showing your marks achieved to date. You can also send an e-mail to the professors telling them to send the results directly to the International Office that will fill the document with the information needed.

When your exam results have been registered, three hard copies of your transcript will be sent directly to the International Office at the university. The home university should forward one or two hard copies directly to you.

Remember to check your transcript!

Once you got your Transcript of Records, double check and see if all the required fields are completed, especially:

  • “Date”
  • “Signature of the administration officer”
  • “Stamp of the Institution”.
If the transcript of records is incomplete, it can be denied by the university.

Finally, the layout of the Transcript of Records is different from one university to another so the information provided above refer to the general one and can be found in every Transcript of Records. However, if you have any doubt about this document you have to ask both your home and your host International Offices.

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