I have recently had my diploma stating that I have Bachelor degree in maths translated into French. (for those, who speak Russian диплом бакалавра по математике). I have got this diploma in Ukraine. The translating agency that made the translation wrote “bachelier”.

As “bachelier” corresponds to secondary education in France, I think I'll have problems with such a translation, when trying to get a grant from the French government. Am I right?

There are other possibilities to translate my diploma in French:

  • License

  • Baccalauréat

  • Diplôme de Bachelor

  • Diplôme de Bakalavre

Which of them is the most appropriate and corresponds to the standards of translation Ukrainian (Russian) diplomas in French?

P.S. As I have got an answer, but it isn't what I need, I think I must clarify the question a bit.

There is equivalence and translation, and these are two absolutely different things.

We can speak about the equivalence only if there is a convention between two countries about diploma recognition. Translators do not have the right to translate according to the equivalence. So my diploma can't be translated as “diplôme de master” or “diplôme de maîtrise”.

Translation doesn't require any recognition. It is supposed to make clear to a speaker of a l2 the conception expressed in a l1.

I have contacted another translating agency and they propose to translate my diploma as “diplôme de bakalavre”.

My final question for the moment is: Which is less confusing for a French speaker “diplôme de bachelier” or “diplôme de bakalavre”?

P.P.S. If it is easier to answer in French, please do, I understand French.

  • 3
    "diplôme de bachelier" is confusing for a french audience. "diplôme de bakalavre" is probably a less confusing translation, but you'll probably have to explain it (with the equivalence) to most of french speaker ;) Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 9:40
  • If you are translating and not aiming for an equivalent, as you claim, then I would think that the only reasonable thing to do would be to leave the degree title untranslated. Anything else would be misleading, I think. Certainly translating using faux amis (e.g. maîtrise <--> masters) is not legitimate. An expression such as diplôme de bachelier is meaningless, and diplôme de bakalavre is all the more so.
    – Drew
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 2:00
  • You might want to give more context about your degree in the American education system to help people find a French equivalent among DUT informatique, BTS informatique, Bac STG, or Bac pro SEN...
    – GAM PUB
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 7:23
  • You failed to provide basic information: If this is a university-level degree, how many years did you study? Three or four? Is it a four-year degree? Also, what is the degree you get at the END of secondary school called in your country (translated)? Until you answer my questions, I cannot help you. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:23
  • 1
    @Papa Poule Yes, that's right. And I get so tired having to fight that fallacy. It's very simple: Un Bac te donne deux ans de fac aux Etats Unis, et un BA américaine te donne deux ans d'équivalence et te mettrais en année de License en France.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 21:48

9 Answers 9


Diplôme de bakalavre will not be understood by any French speaker unless they also happen to speak Ukrainian or they have encountered Ukrainian diploma before. This is not a translation, it's a transliterated but untranslated foreign word. Use this word if you want to be precise and you don't care that the reader understands what is meant. This is necessary when translating the diploma itself, because this is a legal document where being precise is more important than being understood, but you should provide an explanation in a separate document.

Translation is not always exact. If two countries have different educational systems, the only way to fully convey the meaning of a foreign diploma is to explain the other country's educational system in detail. Failing that, you will need to resort to an approximation.

If an equivalence exists, it would be the best translation in this context. However the equivalence is likely to be dependent on the university you're applying to (and they may be somewhat flexible as their policies can't possibly cover all cases), so you probably can't use that.

(This paragraph applies to France specifically, other French-speaking countries may use different terms and Québec in particular is very different.) In your CV, write bakalavre and provide a short explanation. Counting the number of years of post-secondary education is common in France. France itself has some complex educational subsystems that are not well-known, so it's not uncommon to have to explain a French diploma to a French person (this is slowly changing as France is moving towards a 3/5/8 Bachelor/Master/PhD system). The idiom for this is « Bac +N », for example a license is a « diplôme bac+3 », a maîtrise (discontinued) is a « diplôme bac+4 », a master is a « diplôme bac+5 ». Since you have 4 years of post-secondary study, you should probably write « bakalavre (bac+4) ».

Do not use bachelier at all in that context in France. Everyone will think that you haven't been to university yet.

  • Thank you for the answer. I think I'll send the variation with bakalavre to the embassy. The idea of bac+n sounds reasonable, but as far as I know, for some specialties (like economic or philology) there is a loss of a year, so it's also tricky.
    – May
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 9:21

According to the wikipedia page about Bachelor, the russian bachelor would be (for France) an equivalent of the master degree (5 years at university).

Here are the list of french degrees (levels could be different in other countries) :

  • You gain the ability to study at university level when you obtain the baccalauréat, you become a bachelier
  • After 3 years of study at university level, you will gain a License
  • After 4 years of study at university level, you will gain a Maitrise
  • After 5 years of study at university level, you will gain a Master
  • After >7 years of study at university level (and a thesis), you will gain a Doctorat
  • Thank you for the answer. I got my degree after 4 years of study. But translators do not have the right to translate according to the equivalence, because for some specialities there is a loss of a year, when entering a French University.
    – May
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 10:01
  • 5
    While I'm sure this is accurate for France and thus what the OP wanted, it might be worth mentioning that things do differ country to country and this would not be applicable, say, in French Canada, where a baccalauréat is a university degree.
    – Kareen
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 15:06
  • @Kareen : right, I added some precisions about that... France only :) Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 16:05
  • 2
    @Kareen actually, the french baccalauréat is the first university degree :-)
    – Benoît
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 6:31
  • 2
    @Benoît In any case, what I basically mean is that a Canadian baccalauréat is actually a Bachelor's degree and is obtained after 3 or 4 years of university.
    – Kareen
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 15:10

The Baccalauréat in France (or Bac) is an exam you take before going to university (at the end of 12th grade). You shouldn't use that.

The terminology depends on how many years you've studied, starting when you join your university. Licence is three years, Master is 5 years and Doctorat is 8 years. (See here)

From what I've understood, a bachelor's degree can take different amounts of time depending on your school, but I guess if you had a master's degree you would have said so, so I recommend you use "Licence en informatique".

But studies are never completely equivalent, so that's just to give an idea of what your diploma is to a French. Only see this as an approximation. I would add the original name of the degree, like this:

Diplome : Licence en Informatique (Bachelor's degree in Computer Science) - School XXX, Year.


Hmmm - I do not think that "Baccalauréat Informatique" exists (I could be wrong).

In any case, a US Bachelor's degree would correspond more to a French Licence (en/d'informatique), if we go by the number of years of study after high-school: the French Licence takes three years after graduating from high-school. I would go with Licence d'Informatique as a close equivalent of "Bachelor's degree in computer science". If you studied for four years after high-school, then the French equivalent would be a "Maîtrise". Five years would be a "Mastère".

Note that the French "Baccalauréat" is awarded upon graduation from high-school, so it is not equivalent to a US "Bachelor's degree" at all, although the root for these two words in Latin is the same.

A copy of an official document from the French Consulate in Boston with current (2017) information on that topic:

enter image description here

This site also has official, current information: CIEP.

  • "Licence en informatique" rather than "Licence d'informatique"
    – sapienz
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 8:35
  • @sapienz - check out this link: books.google.com/ngrams/… - both are found?
    – Frank
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 15:20
  • A BA is usually given a DEUG as an equivalence, they won't give you a License. How do I know? I got one for a four-year BA. Then, I got a French License, one more year, in France.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 19:27
  • From the French Consulate in Boston: consulfrance-boston.org/…
    – Frank
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 21:06
  • 1
    @sapienz No, “licence d'informatique” is a lot more common, it wouldn't come to my mind to say “licence en informatique”. I'd never realized that some subjects use en and I wonder why. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 21:59

French native here,

"Diplome du baccalauréat" is a diploma you pass at the end of your high school years, in France it is worth mentioning what was your speciality (S (science), L (literature), ES (economic and social))

A bachelor degree, is equivalent to a "License, bac +3" bac +3 stand for the 3 years you studied to get your degree.

Hope this can help you or someone else in need.

  • First of all, one doesn't pass a diploma in English and secondly, a bac is not equivalent to a high school diploma.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 16:42

There aren't equivalence between Franch diploma and American diploma. A Bachelor Degree in Maths it's approximately a "Lincence Mathématiques" in France (after 3 years in university). So, if you need to study in France after a Bachelor Degree, maybe you will be in Maîtrise (Master 1).

  • This is Ukraine.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 16:43

You cannot base the equivalence on the number of years at the University, because in France the lycée usually lasts until you are 18 years old whereas College in NA ends at your 19. By the way, that extra year prevents you from joining NA Universities right after the french baccalauréat.

A bachelor degree is usually recognized as something between a License and a Master. It depends of your field of study and if the entity that delivers the diploma in your country has some sort of deal with the same French entity.

As an example, I am preparing a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering at Montréal, Québec, CANADA, in a school allowed to deliver an "engineering diploma" by the Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ).

In France, the same entity is the Commission des Titres d'Ingénieur (CTI) and it delivers a Diplôme d'Ingénieur.

The OIQ and the CTI made some sort of deal to make sure both country recognize the diploma delivered by the other.

Thus, my Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering would be the equivalent of a French Diplôme d'Ingénieur, which is slightly higher than a Master (here again, a Master in France and a Diplôme d'Ingénieur are both 5 years at the University but the former is above the latter).

You could try to find information about your country on this website.


En France, les différents diplômes courants et utiles sont les suivants :

  • Bac (en fin de lycée avec des spécialisations)
  • DUT ou BTS (Bac +2, ce sont des diplômes particuliers centrés sur les aspects métiers et moins sur la théorie. Il sont enseignés dans des établissements dédiés. De nombreuses personnes ont ces diplômes mais une réforme vas les faire disparaitre. Le DEUG n'est déjà plus utilisé.)
  • Licence (Bac +3, Licence professionnelle si elles sont plus centré sur les aspects métiers et moins sur la théorie.)
  • Master (Bac +5, Il existe également des écoles d'ingénieurs qui donnent un diplôme d'ingénieur qui est souvent mieux reconnu en France. C'est un vieil héritage qui date de l'époque napoléonienne et qui n'a pas vraiment de sens)
  • Doctorat (Bac +8, accompagné d'une thèse)

Je ne connais malheureusement pas le système de diplômes ukrainiens, mais si tu dois retenir des niveaux d'études qui seront bien compris, utilise bac si tu n'as pas fait d'études après ton équivalent du bac, Bac +2, Licence, Master et Doctorat.

Pour tous les intermédiaires juste Bac + le nombre d'années après le bac.


Diplome du baccalauréat, at least how it is in Quebec, I think it's the same in France.

EDIT: Now at home I checked Évaluation comparative des études effectuées hors du Quebec: É*tudes universitaires de premier cycle complétées (programme de quarte années de baccalauréat).* I graduated University in Russia (5 years). So, they gave me bac, not master.

  • 1
    No, as the comments on Cédric's answer discuss (and I can confirm), baccalauréat in France is the high school completion diploma, for which the normal age is 18, after which you can start university. Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 9:49
  • Thank you for the answer. I wonder why they didn't give you master?
    – May
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 9:23
  • To get bac here, you learn 3-4 years and then also 3 years go get master, so it should be 6-7 years total.
    – Alexan
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 17:17

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