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I will apply for a Ph.D. position, and the university is asking for an English version of my transcript record and diploma.

My diploma/transcripts records are in French and the cost of a certified translation is enormous.

Is it possible to send non-certified translations? I would, of course, precise that they can ask for a certified one if necessary

  • 4
    Have you tried asking the university? I feel like the answer to your question will be far too specific to an institution to answer here. – Jeff Feb 24 at 15:09
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    Had to deal with French officialdom once... they spent an hour arguing that the stamp should be in the bottom right corner, not the top right. I asked if it changed the information :) and they gave up in the end... – Solar Mike Feb 24 at 19:00
  • Is it a European university? – Vladimir F Feb 25 at 7:13
  • If you look the other way round, you may find that the university may accept what is sometimes (often) accepted in France, a declaration on your honor (déclaration sur l'honneur). You basically translate yourself, and state that the content is accurate. – WoJ Feb 25 at 7:45
  • In my experience two different institutions in two different countries "did the job" themselves. In one case I provided a translation and declared it conform to the original, too. Europe in all cases. – Alchimista Feb 25 at 9:14
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Only they can answer the question as it is their rules that apply. But I think you propose a good solution. Send them a "faithful" translation that you can prepare at little cost. Offer to send a certified copy if necessary, but mention that the cost of such a translation is high.

But you might also be able to have your university provide an English language translation or even to assure the recipient that your translation is accurate.

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    I'll second the recommendation to connect to your university - it may be much simpler for them to issue an official document in English (most likely you're not the first person in their history with such a need, they may have a clear process for this) than to translate the documents you have. – Peteris Feb 24 at 22:32
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    When I applied for Cambridge University, I translated my diploma and transcripts to English. I asked the international office of my home university to certify that my translation is correct, which they did. Cambridge University accepted the documents. – J. Fabian Meier Feb 25 at 10:55
  • My university in Italy had a special office which provided official translations of diplomas. The quality of the translation was appalling, but it was free and "official", so good enough for phD application requirements (I provided a different document with the explanation of all unclear details) – Denis Nardin Feb 25 at 12:08
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Each program has its own rules and requirements, so the only way to know is to ask them what is required exactly. It could be the case that a certified translation is only needed at a later stage, or not at all.

If your degree is from a French University and relatively recent, you should be able to request a Diploma Supplement which carries information in English about your degree. This could satisfy some requirements better than a non-certified translation (but again, you should ask).

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You are entitled to receive your degree certificate in English directly from your university.

Graduates in all countries taking part in the Bologna Process have the right to receive the Diploma Supplement automatically, free of charge and in any major European language.

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/education/diploma-supplement_en

  • This works.well, but often comes too late. Both of my graduations (where I received the diploma + supplement) came several months after I started first my PhD, later the postdoc. But the uni had no problem to create an English letter stating I have finished my degree. – Vladimir F Feb 25 at 7:17
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My experience is that if a certified translation is required, it will be stated explicitly. In other words, asking for a translation is not the same as asking for a certified translation.

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If you're on good terms with someone in the admin in the French university, you could

  1. do you own translation; follow the format of the French documents.
  2. take the translations to the admin person, and ask them to put an "official stamp" on your translations.
  3. Have them also stamp a few blank pages, in case you need them later.

Don't ask me how I know this.

(My experience is that French universities have lots of stamps, and that US universities (if that's where you're applying) are just looking for something that appears official.)

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