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Transcript vs. Degree Certificate — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on November 13, 2023
Transcript is a detailed record of a student's courses and grades, while Degree Certificate is a document proving one's completion of a specific academic program.
Transcript vs. Degree Certificate — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Transcript and Degree Certificate


Key Differences

A Transcript is an official document that gives a detailed account of a student's academic performance. It lists the courses taken, the grades achieved, credits earned, and may also include other academic-related information. A transcript is dynamic in nature, changing as students progress through their studies, adding new grades and courses over time. On the other hand, the Degree Certificate is a static document, presented once and doesn't change.
The Degree Certificate, also known as a diploma, is a formal document that certifies that a student has successfully completed a particular course of study or academic program. It's a recognition of the hard work, commitment, and achievement of the student. Conversely, a Transcript serves as an evidence of the journey, displaying every twist, turn, success, and setback in a student's academic path.
While the Transcript is often used for purposes like transferring schools, applying for graduate programs, or for some job applications to show one's academic history, the Degree Certificate is predominantly used to show that a specific academic level was achieved. Many employers or institutions might ask for both, the Transcript to see specifics of academic performance, and the Degree Certificate to validate completion.
Another distinguishing feature is the frequency of issuance. A student can request multiple Transcripts throughout their academic career, especially when applying for various programs or positions. The Degree Certificate, however, is typically issued only once upon graduation.
Lastly, in terms of design, a Degree Certificate is generally more ornate, bearing the institution's seal, and is meant for display. The Transcript, though official, is more utilitarian in appearance and is meant for functional use.

Comparison Chart


Detailed record of courses & grades
Proof of program completion

Frequency of Issuance

Multiple times
Once (upon graduation)

Use Case

Transferring schools, graduate applications
Verification of academic level


Ornate, with institution's seal


Dynamic (updates with courses & grades)
Static (doesn't change post-issuance)

Compare with Definitions


A document used for transferring schools or graduate applications.
The university asked her to submit her Transcript along with her application.

Degree Certificate

A recognition of academic achievement.
He received his Degree Certificate in Electrical Engineering.


A detailed list of courses taken and grades earned.
His Transcript showcased a strong background in science courses.

Degree Certificate

A document certifying completion of an academic program.
She proudly displayed her Degree Certificate on her office wall.


Something transcribed, especially a written, typewritten, or printed copy
The transcript of court testimony.

Degree Certificate

Issued once upon graduation.
She eagerly awaited the day she would hold her Degree Certificate in her hands.


A record of a student's academic performance issued by an institution of learning.

Degree Certificate

An ornate document bearing the institution's seal.
Her Degree Certificate from Harvard was framed and placed in the living room.


(Biology) A sequence of RNA produced by transcription.

Degree Certificate

Proof of a specific academic level achieved.
Employers often request a copy of the Degree Certificate during the hiring process.


Something which has been transcribed; a writing or composition consisting of the same words as the original; a written copy.


A copy of any kind; an imitation.


A written version of what was said orally
The transcript of a trial


(genetics) A molecule of RNA produced by transcription


(education) An inventory of the courses taken and grades earned of a student alleged throughout a course.


(rare) To write a transcript; to transcribe.


That which has been transcribed; a writing or composition consisting of the same words as the original; a written copy.
The decalogue of Moses was but a transcript.


A copy of any kind; an imitation.
The Grecian learning was but a transcript of the Chaldean and Egyptian.


A written version of what was said orally; as, a transcript of a trial.


Something that has been transcribed; a written record (usually typewritten) of dictated or recorded speech;
He read a transcript of the interrogation
You can obtain a transcript of this radio program by sending a self-addressed envelope to the station


A reproduction of a written record (e.g. of a legal or school record)


An official record of student academic performance.
She requested her college Transcript to apply for a Master's program.


Evidence of one's academic journey.
The Transcript displayed both her strengths and areas she struggled in.


A periodically updated record of academic history.
After completing her summer courses, she updated her Transcript.

Common Curiosities

What is a Transcript?

A Transcript is an official record detailing a student's courses and grades.

Is a Transcript the same as a Degree Certificate?

No, a Transcript lists academic performance, while a Degree Certificate proves program completion.

What if there's an error on my Transcript?

You should contact your academic institution's registrar to rectify errors on a Transcript.

How often can I request a Transcript?

You can request a Transcript multiple times, as needed.

Can I use my Transcript to apply to graduate school?

Yes, many graduate schools require a Transcript as part of the application.

Can I use a Degree Certificate as proof of my grades?

No, a Degree Certificate shows program completion. For grades, you'd need a Transcript.

What happens if I lose my Degree Certificate?

You can request a duplicate from your academic institution, often for a fee.

Do I need to show my Degree Certificate for job applications?

Some employers may request it, especially for positions requiring specific qualifications.

Can I get a job without a Degree Certificate?

It depends on the job. Some may require proof of education, while others might not.

Is the Degree Certificate issued more than once?

Typically, it's issued once upon graduation, but duplicates can be requested if lost.

How is a Transcript updated?

As you complete courses and earn grades, your academic institution updates your Transcript.

Do both the Transcript and Degree Certificate have the institution's seal?

While both are official, usually only the Degree Certificate is ornately designed with the institution's seal.

Which is more detailed, a Transcript or Degree Certificate?

A Transcript is more detailed, listing courses, grades, and credits, whereas a Degree Certificate confirms completion of a program.

Can anyone request my Transcript or Degree Certificate?

No, due to privacy laws, you or authorized individuals can request them.

Is a Transcript needed for transferring colleges?

Yes, most colleges require a Transcript to evaluate transfer credits.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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