Does the term "graduate applicant" mean "a person who applies to get graduated" or "a graduate who applies for something"? If it is the second one, what can we call a person who applies for a graduation program?

3 Answers 3


As Kosmonaut said, the phrase is probably ambiguous as it stands, though the context will probably determine which is meant. To avoid confusion, I would suggest using the following:

Someone who is in the process of graduating is known as a "graduand". That's what you are referred to as on your graduation day.

Someone applying to a graduate programme could be a "graduate school applicant"

And perhaps "graduate job applicant" to refer to a graduate, applying for something else...

  • What do you base these conclusions on?
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 15:35
  • 1
    The first one is based on first hand experience of graduations. The second and third are suggestions for how to avoid the ambiguity.
    – Seamus
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 16:51
  • I just don't think that "graduate applicant" would unambiguously refer to a graduate applying for something, if the context was uncertain. If you have a page where you have info both for people applying for grad school and for graduates applying for other things, I don't think "graduate school applicant" and "graduate applicant" would be sufficient as the two designations. On the other hand, if the page is referring exclusively to one or the other, then "graduate applicant" is probably sufficient.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 17:07
  • I see your point. I've amended my answer to accommodate.
    – Seamus
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 17:14
  • That sounds good.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 17:27

My initial assumption on hearing the phrase was equivalent "graduate school applicant."

I would call someone currently matriculated who is applying for their degree a "bachelor's degree candidate" or "PhD candidate," etc.

I would find it confusing as "a graduate who applies for something" unless it was in a very specific context. What did this applicant graduate from? With what degree? It's too vague to be useful unless the context provides more information.

But this is admittedly based solely on my own usage (Northeastern United States).


By rights the phrase "graduate applicant" ought to mean an applicant [for anything] who is a graduate, that is, who holds at least a bachelor's degree. This is very different from an applicant for graduation, but would include grad school applicant as a subset.

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