Is there a Term to describe the relationship between two people when they share an Alma Mater?

For example; Neil Armstrong is an alumnus of Purdue University. I am an alumnus of Purdue University. Both Neil and I are alumni of Purdue University, which is to say we share an alma mater. So, I'm looking for a term to describe my relationship to to Neil with out needing to explicitly reference the university. Is co-alumni a real term? Is it appropriate to say that Neil and I are co-alumni? Is there something better? Further, is there a way to specifically describe the relationship between two people from the same graduating class?

Thank You in advance!

  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/59031/can-i-say-co-student
    – user66974
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 15:48
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    Granfalloon. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 18:36
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    I mostly hear people use their school's nickname/mascot for this. In your case, you'd say you're both Boilermakers or that Armstrong is a fellow Boilermaker. That might be too close to referencing the university for you, though.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 19:23
  • In British English you would usually name the institution, and the adjective "old" is used for former students at some public schools (which are actually private schools, not "public" in the US sense). E,g. "we are/were both old Etonians", or "we were both at Oxford/Cambridge/Manchester" etc. "Alumni" is used in BrE, but not used much in casual conversation.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 6:47
  • @alephzero - In my experience the British English "old ###ians" only applies to school, not university.
    – AndyT
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 9:21

3 Answers 3


In this situation I've always heard "fellow alumnus" to describe someone who has graduated from the same university as somebody else.

Fellow adjective
belonging to the same class or group; united by the same occupation, interests, etc.; being in the same condition

Alumnus noun
a graduate or former student of a specific school, college, or university.


"Fellow alumnus" and "Fellow alumni" get 51100 and 402000 google hits respectively, so they're not completely uncommon phrases. I found it difficult to find a decent definition of the phrase though. It is possible that some people would interpret "fellow alumnus" to mean someone who graduated from the same class in the same year, rather than just the same university in any year.

Note: "alumnus" is the male singular, "alumna" is the female singular, "alumni" is the male/mixed plural, and "alumnae" is the female plural. Informally "alum" and "alums" are sometimes used as gender neutral alternatives.

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    Worth noting that alumnus is the masculine term, and alumna is the feminine.
    – wchargin
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 23:17
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    @wchargin ... and if you are being really pedantic alumni is the masculine plural, and alumnae is the feminine plural. I am a graduate of the University of Cambridge, and the ?annual? magazine is careful to refer to "alumni and alumnae". I don't know how much longer that will last - there will be furious letters to the editor when it does though. Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 8:06
  • This is a good answer, except it sounds unusual to just say "John Doe and I are fellow alumni" and stop there. I believe it makes more sense when we mention the name of the institution as well, like "John Doe and I are fellow alumni of Purdue University". In which case one would rather say "John Doe and I are alumni of Purdue University". In that sense this answer does not address the OP's requirement of "without needing to explicitly reference the university". Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 10:36
  • For extra confusion "alumni" in English is often pronounced how "alumnae" would be in Classical Latin
    – eques
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 17:54

People who went to the same school as you, even during a different year, are often described as "fellow alumni". A couple of uses:

How to find and reach out to fellow alumni:

We all know that our fellow alumni can be great networking resources. After all, you’ve already got a built-in connection with these folks, no matter what year they graduated.

Alumni networking rules:

If you’ve never met someone before and they’re a high-ranking officer where you want to work, then simply being a fellow alum is way too much of a stretch to be calling on them...

For "someone who graduated the same year as someone else", I would use classmate in North American English. From the OED:

classmate, n. A fellow member of a class at school, college, or university; (N. Amer.) a member of the same graduation class.

Note that this usage is somewhat ambiguous, as one can also be a "classmate" by taking a class with someone. Usually this ambiguity can be resolved by context, since (IMO) it is unusual to call someone a "classmate" in sense of "someone who took a class with me" after that class is over. If someone says "We were classmates at Brown", it usually implies the "same graduating class" sense of the word.

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    Note that "alum" is an informal abbreviation only used in American English. In British English, the full word "alumnus" is always used. See dictionary.com/browse/alum
    – Jules
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 0:42

Technically speaking, this relationship is described by "schoolmate", which is defined by oxforddictionaries.com as

A person who attends or attended the same school as oneself

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    While technically speaking that might be true, I think there's a very strong implication that you both attended at the same time and knew each other personally. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 16:57
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    'Neil Armstrong is an alumnus of Purdue University. I am an alumnus of Purdue University.' does not mean that they were necessarily schoolmates. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 17:35

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