All Your Transcript Questions, Answered

Ordering transcripts is a key part of the college application process, but one that you might forget in the rush to get your application done. Whether undergraduate, graduate, certificate or doctoral,  most programs require official transcripts be submitted with your application, so we’ve collected the most frequently asked questions about transcripts to help you through this step. 

Why do I need to order a transcript?

In ordered to be considered for enrollment at most colleges and universities, they need to know if you qualify. Along with your application, your past performance will play a part in a school’s admissions decision. 

For example, if you are an aspiring dentist, your prospective dental school will want to know that you are able to handle the coursework. If you repeatedly get As in the required science classes, it is a good indicator that you will excel in their program. If, however, you repeatedly failed their required prerequisite classes, you should consider a different health care career.

How do I order a transcript?

Your first step is to check with your registrar’s office, because your school may have a variety of ways to order a transcript. You may need to fill out a form, pay a fee and then have to wait a stretch of time before it can be released. Each institution will have their own process, so you will want to contact the registrar of each school that you’ve attended.

How long will it take for an institution to receive my transcript?

It depends how far your school is from your prospective institution and how they are able to receive it. If the school accepts electronic transcripts, it may take 24 to 48 hours. If a hard copy is required, it can take a few days to be received. If the schools are on each coast, it could take over a week. 

Students should also consider how long it may take your program to confirm receipt of your transcript. Schools can receive hundreds of transcripts each day. No matter how they receive it, they may not be able to confirm receipt for almost a month. Consider getting tracking if it is offered.

What is the difference between an unofficial and official transcript?

An official transcript includes a seal and signature of the registrar as well as all of your coursework and degree information. Schools tend to charge for these transcripts to be processed. 

The term “unofficial” in this case usually means that your transcript is an online version with just a list of credits and grades. There is no signature, seal or information on your full degree.

Your prospective health care program may accept either type of transcript or only one type, so be sure to confirm the details with each of your schools of interest. 

What can keep me from getting my transcript?

There are a few roadblocks you could face when ordering your transcript for the following reasons:

  • You owe money to your school. If you have missed any payments, universities can hold your official transcript. Consider these creative options to get your education back on track. 
  • Your school has been closed down. If your previous school has shut down, your transcript still exists! Whenever a university or college closes, the state collects any and all transcript information from students to be stored. If the time for them to locate and send your transcript is taking longer than expected, you can always work out a plan with your program director.

Why does my school make me pay for a transcript?

This may not be the case for every school, but a majority of schools do charge students for ordering their transcript. It sounds unfair, until you factor in the staff who have to process and mail your transcript to the document to the correct place. Administration fees differ from school to school, so make sure to research the cost before ordering too many copies.

What does it mean when my school says I have a narrative transcript?

Instead of just inputting a course code, course title, credits and grades for each course, narrative transcripts offer deeper insight into your performance. Professors or advisors assess a student’s performance with tasks and projects for their specific class. Grades and credits are sometimes not even included. All universities should be able to accept both general transcripts and narrative transcripts.

Can you send a digital copy of your transcript?

This depends on the individual school requirements and whether or not your application will accept it. While Liaison’s Centralized Application Services (CAS™) can take electronic transcripts via services like Parchment and Credential Solutions, some applications will only take hard copies mailed to their offices.

What are my options as an international student?

If you are an international student, consider sending a digital copy if your program will accept it.

Your school may want more documentation from you, though. Many health care programs require that applicants obtain and provide a foreign evaluation.  SOPHAS (Schools of Public Health Application Service), for example, requires that students with international education backgrounds provide a foreign evaluation for their public health programs.

A foreign evaluation is when an accredited service translates and standardize an international transcript into one that best matches what it would be comparable to in the United States. WES (World Education Services) and ECE (Educational Credential Evaluators) are two popular services who can confirm an applicant’s credentials and determine if their official transcript is legitimate.


Hello Yesenia,

It’s dependent on your registrar’s office. We suggest calling or emailing your registrar’s office to see what information they include/do not include on the unofficial transcript.

Unofficial transcript may have wrong calculation? I have unofficial transcript from college in 2007. Because the school was closed, my one unofficial transcript is only one my academic record. But this transcript is wrong calculation of quality credit points. I want to know if it is possible? I need proof it may happen in certain circumstances. Please let me know this is possible or not.

Hello Namsik,

Unfortunately, we’re not able to speak to your unofficial transcript’s calculation. If your school is closed, you may want to contact the Division of Higher Education – Higher Education Commission of the state the school was housed.They will be able to provide you the ways to get an official transcript with your official grades/credit points.

I am currently attending two colleges, one college for Fall/Spring semesters and another for Summer semesters.
How often should I be sending my updated coursework between the two institutions?

When I applied for U of M Dearborn I put in all 3 schools I attended (elementary, middle, and high schools). My question is, do I need all 3 transcripts or just my high school transcript??

Hello Misa,

It depends on what your program requires for admission. Most programs will required just a high school transcript, but consider contacting an admissions counselor.

I attended college back in 2011. My grades weren’t so great back then. Will my grades from back then still be calculated into my GPA for when I apply to new schools?

It depends on how the individual school calculates your GPA. There are programs that will calculate it in, some will just calculate the newest or highest grade. Contact a school you’re interested in and see what their specific program takes into account.

Why university says that my Wes evolution not accepted.?
Admission team post msg like Transcript degree missing .I don’t get this plz reply

Hello Jay, I would contact that admissions team directly. It may be that the WES evaluation you sent was not official (like a copy, for example). They would be able to provide you with more information.

I attended an university for my freshman year, I then took 1 1/2 years off to fulfill a military obligation. I then registered for a semester but never attended the school ( never stepped foot on campus, never attended a class, never attempted coursework) I had to move states for financial reasons. I am now trying to finish my degree at another university but the previous is holding my transcript until i pay for a semester i never attend. I have asked the school for a retro-unenrollment or any thing else possible so I wouldn’t have to pay the 6k for the semester I didn’t attend. Is there anything i can do to get my transcript?

Hello Joseph,

Unfortunately, it would be a matter you would have to work out with the registrar. Otherwise, you can speak to the university you intend on going to about the matter and see if they would be willing to work with an unofficial transcript.

Hello Juliana,

Transcripts can vary based on the amount of coursework you completed at school. If you took a few semesters worth, it may be one page, but if you were at a school for several years it can be 3 or 4 pages.

I owed the college I attended money for a semester I dropped in a bridge program. They wouldn’t release my transcripts when I wanted to get my B.A. Now that college is closed. Can I get my transcript, or another college, from the TN Dept. of Education?

You will have to contact the TN Dept. of Education about releasing your transcript to you, as they now house it. Note that it may take weeks to have it provided.

Hi Jessica. We suggest calling or emailing your registrar’s office to see what information they include/do not include on the transcript.

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