I am applying for graduate school. I have a very good profile, except for a very bad exchange semester, in which, due to unfortunate circumstances, I got two Fs (and two A+).

One of the universities I am applying to asks for transcripts from all universities I have attended. However, they mention that exchange education should not be declared (in the education listing section). Then there is another section where I can upload transcripts, with only two slots, each for one diploma. In my case I am studying for two bachelor degrees, with different transcripts; theoretically, I have to put the transcripts separately.

Should I put my exchange transcript? I have not validated the courses I approved there in my home university. It's as if I took a sabbatical semester. I know that the exchange transcripts should be there, in theory. I do not know why the university has provided limited slots for transcript submission. Ethically, I know it is wrong to not present them, and it feels bad.

What would you do?

  • Is it a requirement to present them or not? I don't see any unethical in not presenting them (assuming they do not require all transcripts - this is how I understand your case)
    – user111388
    Dec 10, 2023 at 22:17
  • Well, in the official page of the MSc it says it is. But in the application site it is very confusing. I don’t want to get in problems though so I might put it, unless someone with more experience than me in these topics reassures me it’s not a big deal. Dec 11, 2023 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


As a general rule, you should present all academic records in an application. Doing otherwise usually will run afoul of the rules/requirements and, if your found out, could land you in hot water. It wouldn't be the first time someone had an acceptance rescinded for lying...

It sounds like the university you mention is basically saying you don't need to list exchange programs separately, with the understanding that those courses are listed on your home institutions transcripts. I don't think they are saying "pretend the exchange program didn't happen".

I would assume that someone at some point from your home institution will expect you to submit those grades, and they will then appear on your transcript - undergraduate students don't take "sabbaticals" and if you are still enrolled as a student, that time will need to be accounted for. I don't know if you are US based, but generally there are specific requirements for maintaining student status. You can't just not enroll in courses, presumably you were approved to take a semester abroad or something. There will certainly be a paper trail. Please correct me if my understanding of the situation is wrong.

Anyway, even if you don't submit the grades and no-one asks, how will you explain a semester gap in your education? It will certainly raise questions (unless you lie again here, which is not a great idea).

And then, if you don't validate them through the university it won't count as an exchange program and you'd be expected to submit those grades separately, as if it was any other transcript from any other university - the number of slots they give you doesn't really matter...

So this was a long-winded way of saying that you shouldn't try to hide this. It isn't worth it. And frankly, I think if you did try to hide it, it would come out fairly quickly. A blank semester will look suspicious without a good explanation. Assuming you've done well otherwise, I suspect most people will be somewhat more forgiving of a few bad study-abroad grades. You may want to specifically address it somewhere though.

  • 2
    No I am not US based. My university does not require me to be enrolled as a full time student, I can take as many courses as I want. Also, my university does not require me to validate the exchange courses. And during my time of exchange I worked online at a company from my country. Dec 10, 2023 at 12:05
  • Ethically I know it is wrong, and I don't want to omit information if it is against the rules. However, I was genuinely confused by the istructions. Them saying exchanges should not be listed and only providing transcript slots that should be followed by a diploma made me think that perhaps exchanges were not part of the requirements. Dec 10, 2023 at 12:09
  • The rest of my profile is good (I could provide more detail if needed). But I think the context of the grades is important. The two F's corresponded to courses I did not have the pre-requisites for. Therefore, I asked the registrar's office to register me as an audit, which they agreed upon. Later in the semester, I found out this was not done because of univ. policies. As a result I missed some deadlines and could not unenroll/change the courses. Since then, I have done everything to revert the situation (retook the courses at home getting A, relevant work exp, online courses, and research). Dec 10, 2023 at 12:13
  • Back then I did not know I had to upload the transcripts in graduate applications, so I was not concerned. Now that I know this I have been extremely worried for over a year now. I think it is worth saying that I have a letter from the university that briefly states what happened. But overall, I do not know how bad an effect this will have. Dec 10, 2023 at 12:16
  • 1
    I think you have nothing to worry about. I doubt anyone will give you a hard time about this. It was a mistake (no fault of yours) and you've done more than enough to make up for it.
    – sErISaNo
    Dec 12, 2023 at 6:56

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