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Dealing with international transcripts

The moment you encounter a transcript that is not from Canada or the USA, immediately look for both a transcript key and a country guide on the International Degree Equivalency pages.  You may also search the website of the issuing institution for information on their grading system. If the student was assessed for admission to your department, you should have this information already in the student record.

If you are dealing with an unknown system (with no qualitative information provided with the transcript) and have consulted all of these resources and still have difficulties deciding how to record information, contact Graduate Admissions.

The information indicated by a 1 (in the photo to the right) explains the differences between undergraduate work and graduate work, according to McGill. This should help you determine if certain grades or transcripts should be regarded as part of a graduate or undergraduate record.

The grid indicated by a 2 shows a grade-by-grade equivalency. There are alpha grades, numeric, grades, verbal descriptions, and grade points.  This grid will show you how to assign an alpha grade or grade point to the type of information that is typically shown on that country’s transcript.

The number 3 indicates a paragraph that exists for some countries (examples include France, UK, Germany, India, Hong Kong).  If this paragraph exists, it says: “In this system overall standings are reported in lieu of an average. Therefore the CGPA is determined on the basis of annual or overall standings as reported on the transcript or degree certificate.”  This means that you do not convert the transcript grade-by-grade. You should look for an overall standing of the year, or in the case of overall CGPAs, the overall standing of the degree certificate.  This is actually a nice short-cut to finding the grade.  Please refer to earlier examples of how this can be clearly shown on the GPA sheet.

At the undergraduate level, credit values of 12 or 24 can be assigned to terms or full years that appear to be full-time study. In a Graduate Study Period, credit numbers are not a determinate of inclusion, but a Master’s degree of approximately 3-6 terms can be assigned a weight of 45 credits, since that is the average weight of a Master's degree at McGill.

It is important to follow the country guide instructions exactly. If you have a strong disagreement with the way in which the student grades are being interpreted, you may consult with GPS. However, in most cases we will ask for this point to be addressed in the departmental recommendation remarks. 

Please ensure you include all the information about the transcript that can be used for a professor on the review panel to be able to understand the student’s achievement. Some academics will have an excellent understanding of the original-languages transcript, others will require the French or English translation. Both the original transcript and the translated copy must be included in the submission package.

Calculating GPAs That Combine Different Credit Weight Systems

Some North American universities show grades in percentages, on a GPA system based on 4.3 rather than 4.0, or use an alternate credit weighting system.  In most of those cases, the transcript key will be provided.

With overseas transcripts there can be great variation on grading and credits, not to mention that they are not always written in English or French.  Please remember that we require an official translation in either English or French if that is not the language of the original transcript. Both the original language document and the translation should be included in the application.

If the credit weighting seems unusual against the McGill system, please convert them to the nearest McGill equivalent.  First, consult the transcript key. Secondly, take a moment to read the transcript and see what passes for a regular, full-time term (12 credits at McGill) and see if you can find the best pattern.  

Example: A one-term course with 3 lecture hours per week is a half-credit at University of Toronto, whereas it would be 3 credits at McGill. Therefore, 1 credit would equal 6 at McGill, etc.  It is important that you complete these process, as it will take several years of study to add up to a full-year of 24 credits, if you do not.

If in doubt, please contact Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' Fellowships unit.  They will try to help find a reasonable equivalent. If you’re unsure, it’s better to contact them early while the file is in your hands and changes can be made to the Fellowships Award Database (FAD), as well as your departmental ranking/review process.