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It is understandable if considering the educational record (where s/he has studied and how is his/her transcript) of an applicant applied for junior academic positions such as postdoctoral fellow or assistant professor. BUT, for senior academics, the factors for judging a potential full professor is his/her research, teaching, publications, and other academic achievements.

I read in a few job ads for full professors in Europe (mainly Scandinavia), one of the application materials is unofficial transcripts. It seems that the initial review is substantially based on the applicant education achievements two decades ago.

I wonder how much the education of an applicant affects his/her chance to be appointed as a full professor? Does a bad education (having low GPA at PhD level) always affects someone's academic career, even at highest levels?

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    I've never been asked for transcripts when applying for a postdoctoral position. – user102 Sep 26 '13 at 15:06
  • @CharlesMorisset of course, it is not critical for postdoctoral, as it is normally hired by principal investigator rather then the institute. However, my question is about the cases where applicant is asked for transcript. It is not always the case. – Googlebot Sep 26 '13 at 15:12
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    @Ali, let me rephrase: I've never seen a postdoctoral or assistant professor position application where transcripts were asked. Publications, recommendation letters, teaching, academic responsibilities, were the main factors, I don't see a recruiter asking me what was my grade in a particular class. – user102 Sep 26 '13 at 15:23
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    @CharlesMorisset: As a counterpoint, when I was applying for postdocs and tenure-track jobs in the US (in mathematics), probably about a third of postings required an unofficial transcript with the application, and I believe almost all require a copy as a condition of employment. Specific grades and classes never came up in interviews, though. I don't think it carried a lot of weight; I expect it is mainly to make sure you actually have the degrees you claim to. – Nate Eldredge Sep 26 '13 at 16:18
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    @CharlesMorisset: In the US, the diploma is just a fancy piece of paper that you can frame and hang on the wall. They aren't normally used as an official academic record. The transcript serves this purpose instead. An official transcript is mailed directly from the university, in a sealed envelope, on tamper-proof paper. There's usually a fee involved, so unofficial copies are generally accepted in early rounds. But there is the understanding that if hired, you'd be asked for an official transcript, and it had better match. – Nate Eldredge Sep 26 '13 at 16:33
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From a European perspective: the only time I was ever asked for transcripts was for PhD admission. After that, nobody every asked me for transcripts.

  • Administrative people asked me for a proof of my degree (a copy of the degree itself, without grades, is what I gave). They only wanted to check I was eligible for the position's formal requirements (having a PhD to become post-doc or assistant professor).
  • Scientists asked me for my publications, my thesis, the list of topics I had taught, etc. They did not care the least about my grades in undergrad or graduate education.

So, I think the ads you saw asking for transcripts, especially for senior positions, are by far a minority. Once you have a PhD, most people won't care about your earlier educational record, since it is not a good predictor of how awesome you will be as a researcher.

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Combining the various comments that this question has elicited:

In some countries and at some institutions, the transcript is the official record certifying completion of the degree. When an institution asks for an unofficial transcript, they are really asking for verification that you earned the degree you said you did. Unfortunately, certain events make some institutions feel justified in asking for proof. You cannot very well mail your diploma! Unofficial copies of your transcript are easy to come by in the digital age.

  • they are really asking for verification that you earned the degree you said you did. — But then why don't they just ask for an official transcript? After all, transcripts can be faked, too. – JeffE Sep 27 '13 at 3:12
  • From Nate Eldridge's comments - An official transcript is mailed directly from the university, in a sealed envelope, on tamper-proof paper. There's usually a fee involved, so unofficial copies are generally accepted in early rounds. But there is the understanding that if hired, you'd be asked for an official transcript, and it had better match. – Ben Norris Sep 27 '13 at 10:49

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