In Brazilian Portuguese, there are two kinds of graduate courses: "Licenciatura" for those who will work as high school teachers, and "Bacharelado" for those who will work in research. Looking for an English translation, I've found only "Bachelor's degree" for both.

How can I say "Licenciatura" (the name of the course) and "Licenciado/Licenciada" (one who's concluded this course)?

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    If there's no direct or near equivalent, you will have to use the BP term (in italics) with an explanation of how it is used. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 16 '18 at 13:56
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    I think you can't find an accurate translation because the academic system in English-speaking countries (US, UK, Australia, SA, etc) do not have an analogous distinction between degrees. All 4-year undergraduate courses in the US, for example, result in Bachelors. To be a HS teacher, you need a Masters (in teaching, not in the subject material) and to be a college professor OR researcher, you need a PhD. – Dan Bron Apr 16 '18 at 13:57
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    "Licenciate" and "Diploma" (course) diplomate/ diploma-holder (one who has obtained a diploma) can work for "Licenciatura" -- "Licenciate" is used both for the course as well as the person awarded the certificate on completion. These are neither standard terms nor correspond across different parts of the world. – Kris Apr 16 '18 at 14:04
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    In the US, teachers do generally need to be licensed, but that is in addition to their degree (typically a bachelor's is the required degree, even for high school teachers, but many teachers also obtain a master's or even a PhD). Licensing/certification may require additional steps beyond the degree, like testing and passing a background check. – 1006a Apr 16 '18 at 14:55
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    I'm now voting to close this question as off-topic because it asks for a translation of a specific Brazilian Portuguese term. There doesn't seem to be agreement on an exact equivalent, so possibly one doesn't exist. BEd and BSc + PGCE say may come close, but you could well fall foul of authorities if you suggest an equivalence. You need to contact the relevant authorities to see what they're happy with. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 16 '18 at 19:22

Up to the 1980s many teachers in the UK qualified with a Certificate of Education or Cert Ed which was referred to informally as a "Teaching Certificate". There has been a Batchelor of Education degree available for many years, even when the Cert Ed was available but this has always been a higher level qualification than a Cert Ed.

Teachers in the UK now have to be graduates but holders of degrees in subjects other than education can gain a Postgraduate Certificate of Education {PGCE} which is a teaching qualification but not a second degree.

The Licenciatura seems to be the equivalent of the Old Cert Ed so could be referred to as a "Teaching Certificate" in the UK.

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In Brazil, there are two types of degree the OP is asking about.

1) The Licenciatura is for those who want to teach and allows the degree holder to teach through high school. It also has majors based on the subjects encountered in schools (geography, math, etc.).

2) The Bacharelado is a non-teaching, bachelor of arts degree basically, with similar choices of major as in the US system.

These can be handled two ways in terms of translation:

1) Bachelor's Degree in Education (Licenciatura)


Licenciatura (Bachelor's Degree in Education)

2) Bachelor's Degree (Bacharelado)


Bachelerado (Bachelor's Degree).

Reference for translation: myself. I have translated many a degree from Brazil. The terms in Portuguese should be italicized in the English text. I am using a standard translation of these terms and a standard way of presenting them in a text. [Unfortunately, I can't get bold and italics to work for me.]

Definitions in Portuguese

As for the licenciado, licenciada: a university or college graduate; but there is no specific term for saying an university graduate with a teaching degree, other than that.

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  • These are degrees, not institutions. If you are getting round to the idea of a "teacher's college", it's not applicable. But that does not change the translation. In Brazil, you choose what is essentially a track: www5.usp.br/ensino/graduacao/cursos-oferecidos/… – Lambie Apr 16 '18 at 19:51
  • You can make italics by enclosing the word or phrase with single asterisks. Same idea for bold except two asterisks. – aparente001 Apr 22 '18 at 0:56

A "Licenciatura" in Brazilian Portuguese sounds to me as if it is analogous or equivalent to either a Teacher's Certificate, License, or Diploma, and a "Bachalerado" is a BA/BS/etc.

That being the case, in the United States at least, there are different academic distinctions for "4-year" degrees, all of which are Baccalaureate, or, "bachelor", degrees. The word "Bachelor" actually applies to the person holding the baccalaureate degree as a personal distinction or title, and can be most commonly either a Bachelor of Arts if the course of study focuses on the practice of the subject, or a Bachelor of Science if it focuses on the theory of the subject using a scientific approach. There are other such distinctions, such as Bachelor of Music, when the course focuses on the performance of music.

"Licenciatura" in B.P. (likely "Teaching Certificate [specifically in Secondary Education, maybe?]") is not to be confused with Spanish's use of "Licenciatura" which is more or less equivalent to a Bachelor's Degree (also B.P.'s "Bachalerado"); it is a false cognate between Spanish and Portuguese. So is "Bachalerado" a false cognate with Spanish -- the corresponding term "Bachiller" in Spanish (and subsequently "Bachillerato" for the course of study) refers to "High School".

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In deciding how to render foreign degrees, credentials, titles, etc. in an English context, a great deal depends on the purpose of the communication. If one is translating a literary work, or if one is casually conversing at a party, one may choose a term that best brings out the aspects of the original that are relevant to the context, even if it is not quite accurate as to its other aspects. Thus, if one has a Licenciatura in, say, mathematics, and one’s ability to teach is not relevant to the context, in a casual conversation one may simply one say that one has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. On the other hand, if the casual conversation revolves around teaching, one may say that one has a bachelor’s degree in education, or that one’s first degree is in the teaching of mathematics, or that one is licensed to teach mathematics in Brazil.

Things are, however, quite different when one has an obligation to represent one’s qualifications with complete accuracy, as is the case when one is applying for a job or for further education. In such a case, the question is not what is the correct translation of this or that word, but what is the equivalent of the foreign credential in the country in which one seeks to use it. The equivalence is not a question of language, but of substantive academic judgment, and, in some cases, of the law. It is determined by the authorities that govern the field in which one intends to use the qualification. Sometimes these authorities are governmental, sometimes they are private professional organizations that are generally trusted in the relevant field. If one’s foreign degrees have been found by such an authority to be equivalent to such-and-such degrees, one may say that one has the latter, without worrying that one will be accused of cheating. However, if there has been no formal finding of the equivalence, the only proper thing is to leave the name of the degree untranslated (as has been suggested by Mr. Ashworth in the comments), or to translate it literally, and then explain its nature. The explanation may include saying that one believes it to be approximately equivalent to a particular degree, as long as one makes it clear that one is not claiming to actually have the latter.


A month after this question, an essentially equivalent one was asked on the Workplace Stack Exchange; anybody reading this page will find it instructive to also read the answers that are provided there. The answers to a related question on the Academia Stack Exchange are likely to be illuminating as well.

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  • One would say a teaching degree, and then, add or not add, for teaching math. And I see a red flag in your answer: One would never say one is licensed to teach math. That is simply nonsense. The equivalence is very often decided by a translator who then certifies the translation. Some ed. institution require a rip-off org. in NYC to do the translation and they charge a lot of money, and even they are not "official". A translation is only as good as the translator.... – Lambie Apr 16 '18 at 22:06
  • @Lambie Here you say that 'The equivalence is very often decided by a translator'. However, in your response to Mr. Ashworth, only a few minutes later, you say 'But a translator does not give the equivalence for the degree.' Please help us understand how these two sentences are consistent with each other. – jsw29 Apr 16 '18 at 22:59
  • I meant the equivalent meaning for the translation. Not the academic equivalence of the degree. Sorry, I explained it badly. Those two things are not the same. That's why anyone applying in the US from abroad has to also submit transcripts. – Lambie Apr 16 '18 at 23:01

Simply put, you cannot reliably do that in US or British English. The nearest thing might be in the following example statements in English:

You need a BSc in Physics to get a job as a Physics teacher.

To be a Physics teacher you need to be a Physics graduate.

So the "BSc" looks like the "Licenciatura" and then "graduate" looks like the "Licenciado/Licenciada".

But in normal English, outside the education system, you can say "I'm a graduate" or "I've got a Bachelor's" and it means the same thing.

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  • I think the statement that "You need a BSc in Physics to get a job as a Physics teacher" is not true in the US, taking "teacher" to mean "HS teacher or otherwise not teaching in a college or university". To be a secondary school teacher, typically you need a Masters in Education, which entitles them to teach a range of subjects. Often a science teacher will be required to have a BSc of some sort (as opposed to a BA), but e.g. someone who majored in Biology might be asked to teach Physics, or vice versa. – Dan Bron Apr 16 '18 at 16:34
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    @danbron It really depends on the state. Even nowadays I think it's still typical to need a teaching certificate, not necessarily a full masters degree. – choster Apr 16 '18 at 17:10
  • Guys. This question has nothing to do with what qualifications you might need to be a teacher in the US or anywhere else. Read the question. – Aethelbald Apr 16 '18 at 21:22

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