I'm looking for the English word for the French "équivalence", in an academic context. It is used when one has followed a course with material that is sufficient for another course, and as such, the school hands out an équivalence and you don't need to do the other course.

Here is a less abstract example. John has a bachelor's degree in computer science. He then decides to change field and go into law. In the law program, there might be a course like "Computers 101" where he is taught MS Word and such. Since this stuff is trivial for John, and given his previous education, he can ask for an équivalence and not have to do that course.

Is there such a word in English?

  • Too Localised. Expressions like "O-Level equivalent" are normal English. We don't have a special word for "the process of recognising academic equivalence" because it's taken for granted that any acceptable equivalent qualification will be be automatically recognised as such wherever appropriate. There's no need to name and request special recognition, so we have no word for such bureaucratic procedures. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 21:16
  • Actually, we do. Before it got too old, I could have carried over the three completed years of my four-year first-degree course into some other course it was relevant for. But I would have had to request that credit transfer.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 21:24
  • @Andrew Leach: Okay, I agree in some circumstances you might need to actually ask for a "credit transfer". But normally the equivalence is automatically recognised - the establishment you're applying to already knows what it will accept as "equivalent", and so do you or you wouldn't be applying in the first place. So you just say what you've got, and they treat it as what they want. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 21:59
  • @FumbleFingers: At least in the US, that isn't true at all. Credit transfers between colleges or universities are an elaborate, complicated process, and somewhat unpredictable process, and schools routinely make case by case decisions.
    – Henry
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 2:44
  • @Henry: On paying more attention, I suspect OP isn't exactly asking about that. He just wants to know if John can be excused from attending classes to learn something he obviously already knows. Not at all the same thing as "I've already got this mail-order PhD in Advanced Calculus. Is that enough to get me in to your college to study for a degree in Statistical Analysis?". In the UK we mainly just use one set of qualifications up to 18. Degrees vary hugely in value depending on where you got them, and in what subject - not to mention actual "grades" (first, upper second, with honours). Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 3:27

3 Answers 3


This is known as course equivalency. I've seen the équivalence itself called the "equivalent course" or "transferable credit".


ODO says recognised qualification.

Credit transfer is also used in the UK.


There are multiple ways to refer to this.

One can 'get credit' for a class taken in another curriculum.

One can 'test out of' a class (by taking a test).

One can 'have a requirement fulfilled' by taking a class in another institution or program.

Or one can even say (without a specific phrase for it) that one did not have to take that class.

In American English, one doesn't use the term 'equivalency' though with context it should be understood. One might use the phrasing 'I had an equivalent class in another program' but that's not what one would call the situation usually.

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