I know that to describe which year you're in, with American English, people usually use words like:

  • Freshmen - 1st year college/university student
  • Sophomore - 2nd year
  • Junior - 3rd year
  • Senior - 4th year

However, since the British universities usually have three years in total, are there any equivalent words to these American expressions?

Or Does British people just say "I'm a third-year" instead of "I'm a junior"?

  • 2
    NB: Those terms also apply to high school — and occasionally also to other institutions as well.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 14:04
  • 1
    @tchrist Thx I'm aware of that :-) Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 14:15
  • So, what would someone in Britain write instead of this: "If you’re coming upon your sophomore novel, this isn’t meant to discourage you. ... Here are a few tips for overcoming the sophomore slump:" [ kayepublicity.com/avoiding-the-sophomore-slump ]
    – GEdgar
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 18:42
  • 1
    @GEdgar - they'd use the word 'second'. If you're thinking of "sophomore slump", the nearest equivalent would be "Difficult Second Novel/Album"
    – JHCL
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


As you suggest, British English tends to just go by year number for University level students:

  • Freshmen - 1st year student or 1st year undergrad
  • Sophomore - 2nd year student or 2nd year undergrad

And so on until the final year (3rd year for Bachelor's Degree students and 4th year for Master's Degree students), the students of which are referred to as final year students.

Students who have completed their degree and are attempting to achieve a PhD typically do not use year numbering at all, and are merely referred to as post-graduates, which contrasts with students who complete their degree but do not go on to further education and are normally referred to as graduates.

British English never uses the terms Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior etc (in any educational context). Use of those terms is not well understood in Britain, and most British English speakers would not understand what the term means.

  • fresher — first-year student within the first few weeks
  • first year
  • second year
  • third year or final year — three-year courses
  • fourth year or final year — four-year courses
  • finalists — for those taking their final exams (or just last year)
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    I've never heard the term "finalists" used to refer to university students. It's normally used to refer to people who get to the last round in a competition.
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 15:21
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    @Matt That it is. I would not expect a student to describe themselves like this, but it is fairly common for teaching staff to refer to them this way.
    – Lucas
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 15:38
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    I'm currently a final year student and while it's not used much at my university I've heard the term used a few times here and there. Having said that, I think the majority of people don't know the term
    – HXCaine
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 20:33

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