I didn't graduate from a university, so this question is more on behalf of friends of mine who have had the experience of waiting for seemingly ridiculous(in my opinion) periods of time for an official transcript to be processed. It has been particularly frustrating recently for a friend of mine who didn't realize that a background check from a new employer would require her school to produce an official transcript. The school didn't return calls to the background check firm until my friend got in touch with the school through a different channel, only to be told that the transcript would be produced in two weeks and the process could not be expedited(no exceptions).

The frustration is beside the point though. Why must it take this long to produce an official transcript? From what I can tell, an official transcript is one signed by the registrar of the school and is not a photocopy. I could see it taking a few days for a graduate, but weeks? It seems like a common enough thing that I'm wondering what the explanation could be.

  • I disagree with the close votes as too specific. This is so common across different universities that there can be an underlying common reason.
    – Davidmh
    Jul 13, 2016 at 6:21
  • 2
    It probably doesn't take long to produce one transcript, but if you have to produce thousands (it's a common thing, after all), there is likely a huge backlog (especially if one person has to sign all of them, among their other duties). Two weeks is actually not that long for something involving several levels of administration. Jul 13, 2016 at 7:14
  • @Davidmh I voted to close for two reasons: one is too specific and the other one is unclear (the OP did not say whether two weeks is for paper mail or electronic mail). To me, two weeks is perfectly reasonable if it's paper mail.
    – Nobody
    Jul 13, 2016 at 8:28
  • @scaahu I'm talking about paper mail. I don't think that an official transcript can even be sent through email or fax in most cases, though I don't know that for sure. Jul 13, 2016 at 17:31
  • I agree with @ChristianClason - you seem to have several misconceptions. First, there is not somebody sitting around with nothing to do, waiting for a transcript request to come in. Second, of course the transcript has to be requested by the student (certainly in the US) - the university can't give out a transcript to anybody who asks - it has to be authorized by the student. My daughter's university does not send grades to the parents - we have to ask her. Federal law and all...
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 13, 2016 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


The simple answer is that an official transcript is a legal document and hence the bureaucratic procedures that are implemented to get them to students favor making sure they are above suspicion rather than expediency. That underlying rationale can be the cause of such a variety of specific reasons for it to take so long that I don't think any more specificity would apply universally.

  • 2
    This is a non-answer. It can be summarized as "there are procedures that take time". Okay, what are these procedures? What is taking the university so long to "make sure they are above suspicion"?
    – user9646
    Jul 16, 2016 at 7:43
  • It is a non-answer only to the degree that it is a poor question (ie, too general in order to be answered as specifically as you'd apparently like). As to what the procedures are, I literally addressed that explicitly: it is impossible to say because it's likely different at every university. To say anything else is slightly conspiratorial.
    – Evans
    Jul 20, 2016 at 4:28

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