Should we translate names of degrees (superior courses) and courses?
Thread poster: isabel faria

isabel faria
Local time: 15:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Mar 12, 2014


I am a technical translator and I never translate CVs, but a friend asked me to translate his CV to PT, so I need some help here:

Should I leave the degrees and names of courses in the source language or should I translate it?

For example:

Chartered Landscape Architect
B.Sc. (Hons) Environmental Earth Science
Ph.D. Environmental Sciences (Environmental Systems Technology)



marisa pacilio
Local time: 16:01
German to Italian
+ ...
degrees and courses Mar 12, 2014

I always write down thw title and all details in the original language, then look for an equivalent in the target language if there isn't any give a short illustration (level, content, certification....) the relevanceo the reader can understand the relevance


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:01
English to Polish
+ ...
Depends Mar 12, 2014

Depends on the context. The more technical it gets, the less you want to translate it. In any case you probably want to keep generic references to popular types and tiers like BA/MS/LLM/MBA etc. Things like MBA might even not need translating. Established patterns and customs will different from one language or country to the next.


Woodstock  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:01
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
In my experience Mar 12, 2014

Having translated loads of CVs in the past, I don't know of any standardized way of doing this (yet), but I can write about how I handled it. The EU has begun unifying and standardizing degree classifications as stipulated in the Bologna Accords, but even years later the implementation is far from complete. The problem with CVs for job applications is that a Human Resources Manager might not have the necessary understanding of academic or vocational qualifications from another country, whereas a department head might, but these are assumptions, not facts. Because of this uncertainty, it would be safer to translate them as much as possible.

What I did in the past... (I'm writing this more for other translators who may have the same question, not necessarily for the topic starter):

I wrote the degree in the original, and translated it in brackets, like this:
[≈ Master's degree in Environmental Science], the "approximately equal sign" being pretty important where there is no true equivalent. The square brackets also make it clear that it is an editorial addition to the text that is not in the original (usually).

My 2 cents, which I hope you find helpful. Perhaps other translators deal with this differently.


Maria Amorim (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:01
Swedish to Portuguese
+ ...
Translate between brackets Mar 12, 2014

Hello Isabel!

I would keep the degrees and names of courses in the source language followed by their translation between brackets. This is the common practice in official translations.

Even if a certain degree doesn´t exist in the target language – for example a chemical engineer in Sweden is a civil engineer in chemical technology – it is easier to the employer /the one that is going to evaluate the CV to get a better approach of the specialization.

On the other side, it is not a translator´s task to find/inform the equivalent title in the country for a certain degree (unless already stated in an official document from the competent authority).


Paweł Hamerski
Local time: 16:01
English to Polish
+ ...
International (EU?) regulations forbid such translation Mar 12, 2014

You leave the degrees in original (unless you loosely translating some stories). I will be more specifiic if you are really interested.


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
FORBID such translation??? Mar 12, 2014

FORBIDS??? So therefore why does it go to a translator in the first place. In the second place, if someone wishes to reference the original version, there is no need to do anything as confusing as putting it in brackets, thus causing a tremendous space problem in an already crowded document. The reader can always look at the original.

I really fail to understand.


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:01
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
With Henry Mar 13, 2014

You translate for the target audience. If you're applying to a company in Portugal, you need to make sure that the probably Portuguese HRD can understand your CV. If you assume that they speak your native tongue, it may come across as being arrogant as well as failing to communicate important information.

As for forbidding translation, it's probably the quickest route to insuring that the stuff will be translated.
To wit: Félix Houphouët-Boigny, first president of Ivory Coast, ruled that the name of the country was to be the same in all languages. I've yet to meet a person who doesn't speak the language the name is supposed to be in who can tell me the official name without looking it up.


isabel faria
Local time: 15:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
THANK YOU ALL!!! Mar 17, 2014

First of all, thank you for your opinions, which contributed to being able to form my own opinion - for YHIS case

There is the space limit,

also the lack of correspondence of degrees as this is a project for Africa with specialists being from differents countries and with specializations taken on other countries...

and in some countries there are Honours that, added to a degree, give equivalence to the following degree...

and the need that the person who is going to evaluate the project understands that the specialists have knowledge on the disciplines that matter...

I did this:

I did NOT translate the titles but I translated the Name of the course so the subjects are understandable.

icon_smile.gif Many heads think better than just one (a PT popular saying)


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