Name of degree on diploma - translate or not?
Thread poster: Margreet Mohle

Margreet Mohle  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:59
Member (2010)
French to Dutch
+ ...
Dec 11, 2014


I've been reading a lot of posts on translations of diplomas on this forum, but have not quite found the answer to my question:

I'm translating a Dutch university diploma (though this one is titled 'getuigschrift' - 'certificate'). I'm wondering what to do about the degree itself. 'doctorandus' is equivalent to 'Master', but should I replace it by that term?

It's phrased as 'The candidate for examination has the right to use the title doctorandus (drs.)'

I've considered adding between brackets [Master, M.] - but I'm also using the [] to describe untranslatable elements like [signature]. The parentheses are already used in the original. I'm not comfortable using footnotes either, since it would seem they are a translation of a footnote in the original.

Could I simply leave out the 'doctorandus' and replace it with 'Master'? Even though the person may not officially have the right to use that title?

And what about titles used in front of names (like on this certificate in the signature: Prof. mr. X (eq. to LL M), Dr. ir. Y (PhD, M.Sc.)? Keep or translate?

Thank you for your advice.

[Edited at 2014-12-11 18:08 GMT]


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not a diploma translator, but... Dec 11, 2014

I do not specialise in this kind of documents, but the basic idea of equivalence makes me think that you should translate the type of academic level with its corresponding level in the target language. Optionally, you could follow that with the original academic level in brackets.

There is a high risk of cognates in this type of diplomas, so it is best to check each level carefully in both languages and find the right equivalence. For instance, the Dutch "doctorandus" seems to be a "M.Sc" in English, so leaving "doctorandus" in Dutch on the translation could mislead a reader to think they are dealing with a Doctor.


Ewa Olszowa  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:59
Polish to English
+ ...
Leave the original Dec 11, 2014

Leave the original; you may include the translation in bracket or not, but do not replace anything. It is not up to the translator to decide on the equivalency of the degree - there are credentials evaluation institutions for that.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
Member (2003)
Danish to English
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Of course, you have checked the university's website? Dec 11, 2014

I don't know about Dutch universities, but my guess is that you will find their degrees and qualifications listed with English equivalents.
This is certainly the case with Danish universities.

However, you may have a problem with older qualifications, if the system has been changed since the person graduated.
In Denmark, for instance, practically all university degrees used to be 5-year programmes to Master level. Bachelor degrees were introduced comparatively recently, partly to line up with other countries in the EU. So even if they are at Master level, they are technically 'First Degrees'!


Inge Luus  Identity Verified
South Africa
Local time: 00:59
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Ewa Dec 11, 2014

Agree wholeheartedly with Eva. Also, square brackets in a piece of writing denote anything that someone other than the original writer has added. So, you don't have to reserve the square brackets just for untranslatable items, but you can also add explanatory notes.

In these kind of docs I leave the original wording for the qualification and then add a translation in square brackets to help the reader, if necessary. I would be wary of equivalencies unless I had very solid info to back it up. In your specific case though, I might well add the Masters equivalence in square brackets as it would be too easy for an EN reader to assume that the qualification is actually at the doctorate level as the Dutch "doctorandus" is too close to the English "doctor".

In the end its about making the document understandable for the target audience (preferably without confusion) and yet not assuming too much (equivalency of academic degrees).

Re titles: I leave them as is. I translate from German into English and some Germans are very sensitive about their double qualifications (Prof. Dr., etc). I haven't had any complaints about that in 8 years. In any case, these titles are often conferred by law / strict regulations, so I feel its better to just leave them. But for Prof. Mr. I just say Prof. (there are some EN conventions after all).


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 16:59
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Translate Dec 12, 2014

Translate it as Master's degree. Doctorandus or drs. does not have any meaning in English and especially the abbreviation is very confusing (is it the plural of 'doctors'?). What you try to do is make the Dutch terms understandable for the reader in an English-speaking country, so you need to find the appropriate equivalent if there is one. If you still want to mention the source term, I would put that in parentheses. Many Dutch universities are now awarding bachelor's and master's degrees to make them more transferable to other countries.


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:59
Chinese to English
For a certificate, I think I would not translate Dec 12, 2014

Though Tina's point is well taken, I don't see certificates as fundamentally communicative documents. Generally we look at certificates to check that they exist; we don't try to get much information off them. For that reason, in most circumstances I'd lean towards emphasising their formal qualities: exactly what they state is certified (the doctorandus degree) and by which body, rather than what that certification means. Certificates are an exception to the rule of "always translate the meaning."

Having said that, it does depend on how special this doctorandus category is. Where the systems are similar, translation is right - the Chinese xueshi, shuoshi and boshi degrees are bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees, and it's appropriate to translate them as such. If a doctorandus is a degree typically attained in one or two years after a BA or similar, then there's no obvious reason not to translate... and so to Wikipedia:

"According to Dutch legislation, the Dutch doctorandus degree is equivalent to the MA or MSc degree in English-speaking countries..."

Given that, I might translate it to master's. If a formal equivalency has been established, it seems reasonable to make use of it.


Margreet Mohle  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:59
Member (2010)
French to Dutch
+ ...
Thank you! Dec 12, 2014

Thank you all for your input. I ended up putting M.Sc. in brackets in the text, because of the wording 'may use the title of...' It would have been easier if it had been the more common "is awarded the degree of", but I think it's clear now.

Thank you for your input on the titles, Inge. I kept them as is. 'mr.' is the title for some one with a law degree, so I kept it anyway (without caps).

Indeed, most Dutch universities have moved on to the Bachelor and Master system, but this was an older degree.

Thanks again!


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Name of degree on diploma - translate or not?

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