I am looking for a translation to the Greek "επι πτυχίω" or "στο πτυχίο". The meaning of the phrase is that an undergraduate student has completed the necessary semesters in order to graduate but might still need to pass a number of courses (note that the number of courses might be between "one" and "every course in the curriculum") or to present the thesis. Is there a phrase in English to convey that meaning? If there is not one, is there a phrase to mean that only the presentation of the thesis is needed?

The phrase I am translating is: The student is currently >>στο πτυχίο<< (9th semester, winter) of the academic year 2018-2019.

I was thinking "upon graduation" or "awaiting graduation" but I believe this means that all the necessary courses have been passed and the thesis has been defended.

Edit: I am interested in an English term that will convey the meaning to a Swedish reader.

  • 1
    At least in the US systems I'm familiar with, normal undergraduate instruction consists of 4 years, each of 2 semesters. That timespan is used as a frame to decide the coursework for a given track (major and liberal arts). It is then the coursework, not the time, which is used to determine graduation. Most students complete the coursework in 4 years; some do not. Students are measured, and graduation predicated upon the completion of the coursework, not the amount of time they've been enrolled. So there is no special term for "has been here 4 years but hasn't completed coursework".
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 13:50
  • @DanBron Thank you for your comment! Is there a phrase to describe that everything but the thesis defence has been completed?
    – phan801
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 14:00
  • 2
    Undergraduates in the US don't have "overall theses". They might have a thesis for a specific class, or in lieu of that a term project (like build a compiler for a CS course), or a term paper. But there is no "submit a thesis on your undergraduate coursework" as a whole. In postgraduate studies, you have "ABD" (all but dissertation for PhD candidates).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 14:11
  • @1006a Thank you, I edited accordingly.
    – phan801
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 14:49
  • Just to clarify - you are looking for an expression to indicate someone whose stage of completion in terms of exams and coursework is less than the expected number for the time he has spent on the Degree course?
    – microenzo
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


To summarize what has only been noted in comments, educational systems vary by locale, so what is familiar in England may not be applicable in Scotland, what applies in New Zealand may not in Australia, and so on and so forth.

In the U.S., one typically needs to pass 120–130 semester units of coursework over four years to earn a baccalaureate, but you cannot arbitrarily pick those courses. For a typical example, undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley, must complete four sets of requirements: those set by the University of California system, those set by the Berkeley campus, those set by their college/faculty/school, and those set by the department or its major/concentration program. These requirements are not necessarily academic; Colgate requires two units of physical education, Bryn Mawr requires a swim test, and Cornell requires both.

Therefore, it is possible for someone to have passed enough credit hours to earn a degree, but not have fulfilled all the requirements to graduate from the institution

Most programs are designed so that a traditional student can complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree in four years, graduating after your fourth year. In the U.S., the fourth year of university enrollment is your senior year, and so someone who is still a student after four years may be called a super senior, or fifth-year senior, sixth-year senior, etc. This term is informal, although there are a few examples of official usage, and can carry negative connotations of poor academic performance or a lack of discipline. I would employ it with great caution.

Some may draw a distinction between super seniors (those who have not completed a four-year program in four years) and fifth-year seniors (or simply fifth-year students, especially if the institution does not use the traditional freshman, sophomore, et al terminology), those in the final year of a program designed to be five years long, such as the B.Arch, or programs with a co-op year, or if the career is deliberately extended to play sports for the university through a process called redshirting.


For what is worth, in Italian there is the expression "studente fuori corso" which is exactly what you describe. I have never come across an equivalent expression in British English: the system does not allow for the situation to arise, hence the lack of an equivalent expression.

I wondered if "off-track" might be used in this context - and a quick search led me to this:


It doesn't seem to completely match, but it seems close enough.

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