Translation Process for Academic Records: What to Look For

Application season is heating up and if you’re one of many international students interested in applying to a school in the United States, it’s important to know what universities require for international diplomas and transcripts, specifically regarding academic document translations.

While universities may have unique requirements, the majority of universities require a certified translation.  A certified translation is a translation from one language to another by a professional translator who attests that:

  • The translator is knowledgeable in both languages and capable of performing the translation
  • The translation is complete and accurate

It may be helpful to dig in a bit more on what university admissions are looking for in a certified translation and what a certified translation isn’t.

Important University Admission’s Criteria for a Certified Translation

  • A more literal translation – There are two spectrums of translation work, literal (or word-for-word) and contextual (retaining the sense of the passage).  Many universities will note that they prefer a literal translation because they want to be able to have an unbiased evaluation of transcripts and diplomas.
  • An official translation – Most admissions officers are not experts in your language and admissions offices want assurances that the translation work does not falsely portray your academic record.  Therefore, all translation work should be accompanied by certain features that increase the credibility of the translation.   Examples include:
    • Certification statement: All translation work should include a certification statement that attests to the accuracy of the translation and translator competency
    • Professional letterhead:  All translation work should come on company letterhead to reinforce that a separate professional services firm performed the translation
    • Translator Association Validation: The translator should include the Company’s or his/her American Translator Association or other professional association number.  This offers reassurance to admissions that a professional performed the translation rather than an unqualified individual.

What a Certified Translation Isn’t

  • An academic evaluation – Translators cannot certify to the academic equivalency of academic records from one country to another.  For example, certain countries use a numbering scale or measure of satisfaction to denote academic performance.  U.S. translators cannot attest to what such grades represent on the typical U.S. “A-F” scale given the lack of requisite training.  If the university requires such an equivalency, you’ll need to turn to a credential evaluation firm.  The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services lists a number of service providers on their website.

Remember, before getting a translation or evaluation, make sure to contact university admissions for the exact requirements.   Good luck to all applicants!

Guest Post Provided by FoxTranslate – Providers of academic, immigration and legal document translation.


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