I am looking for a word that would describe a person attending all the lectures of a program at some university but without seeking a degree. In the French language we call that an "Auditeur Libre" (ie. literally a "Free Auditor"), such persons are not registered as regular students. For example they are not required to take the end of term exams.

I'm struggling to find the appropriate English equivalent.

Any idea?


The word you are looking for its auditor:

a university student registered for a course without credit and without obligation to do work assigned to the class.

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    "Auditor" is (as good as) unknown in this sense in the UK. – Chris H Jan 31 '16 at 13:42
  • Indeed. If an "auditor" turned up to a class here they'd probably have been hired by the University to show up, sit in the back quietly, and report back on how well the lecturer is lecturing. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 31 '16 at 16:48
  • Extremely common in the US. At least, I've done this a number of times, and no professor has ever failed to understand what I meant when I asked if they would mind me auditing the course. Is there a UK term for this, then? – Jon Kiparsky Jan 31 '16 at 20:31

Australian universities usually refer to an audit student or a non-assessed student.

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Auditor is the word you are probably looking for. However... I find that the word 'auditor' is more often associated with someone in the accounting field. To avoid that confusion, I would refer to that student as someone who is auditing this or that course.

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    I agree that the word "auditor" usually means something else. Be careful to use it only when there is no possibility of confusion. – Steven Littman Jan 31 '16 at 14:06
  • I had the same impression ! At least if american folks are familiar with that, this will reduce the chances of confusion – tobiak777 Feb 1 '16 at 13:22

You would be a non-matriculating student. To audit a course typically means to take the course without credit. A non-matriculating student takes courses for credit without wanting a degree.

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  • I corrected what appeared to be a typo, but other than that, I concur with the answer, and the distinction it makes between auditing a course and being a non-matriculated student. A non-matriculated student may have finished a degree and found that he/she lacks certain courses for the next degree. That student signs up for the course wherever it is convenient and makes up the deficiency. – Steven Littman Jan 31 '16 at 14:05

Consider, non-degree [seeking] student

non-degree seeking (non-matriculated) student is one who is enrolled on a semester-by-semester or course-by-course basis and has not been accepted as a regular student pursuing a degree. University of Buffalo

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  • Thanks, highly relevant answer I'll go with auditor because I do not want to emphasize the fact that the person is a student, but rather emphasize the fact that the person attended certain courses. – tobiak777 Feb 1 '16 at 13:24

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