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I am confused in a lot of applications for academic jobs, such as assistant professor, lecturer, instructor, at academic institutions. Many of them ask for a "copy of transcript," but I am unsure about what this means. Does this mean I need to get my official sealed transcript, open it, and copy it, or does it mean I can use the unofficial transcript?

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To know for sure, the easiest thing is to email the application contact person for a given job and ask.

My impression is that in many cases, the committee reviewing the transcripts does not really care whether they are official or unofficial, photocopied or not, whatever. All contain the same information. If you reach a later stage of the application process, they may require an official transcript to satisfy bureaucratic requirements.

As W88's answer says, every printed version of your transcript is "a copy of your transcript". "A copy of your transcript" doesn't necessarily mean a photocopy, it just means "a piece of paper with your transcript printed on it". If you receive a sealed transcript from your school, that is "a copy of your transcript" and you can send it in as-is.

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May I ask what you mean when you say official and unofficial?

If it helps, the copies issued from the institution where you graduated are all considered official. The original document you receive is also a copy called the original copy. You can also have multiple original copies.

So when they ask for an official copy of your transcript, as long as it has the signature of your registrar or equivalent, it is official; whether it is the original or the photocopy is a different matter.

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    An official transcript comes sealed with official signatures. The unofficial transcript is a copy that I can access online without signatures, and since I can print it out, is not sealed. – Felix Y. Dec 12 '14 at 4:34
  • The lack of clarity in the applications is that some ask for a "copy of a transcript," not worded as "copy of official transcript." Some applications specifically say a "copy of official transcript," or "copy of unofficial transcript," so in these cases, it is clear. – Felix Y. Dec 12 '14 at 4:35
  • If I were in your place, I would have copies of my official transcript prepared; unofficial copies are always available so it would be a non-issue for me. My next step would be to ask the employers for clarification whether they need an official copy or not. In short, the best course of action may be to just ask the ones who posted the job offerings. – W88 Dec 12 '14 at 4:43
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    I've often encountered simple photocopies of unofficial transcripts in applications. If we're sufficiently interested in a candidate to invite them to interview, we'd ask the candidate to have official transcripts (with the university seal, etc.) sent before interviewing on campus or making an offer. – Brian Borchers Dec 12 '14 at 6:40

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