NTNU - Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet
Ansvarlig redaktør: Informasjonsdirektør
Anne Katharine Dahl

Tore Oksholen

Teknisk ansvarlig: 
Kenneth Aar


Stewart's Corner

Spørsmål angående engelsk kan stilles til språkrådgiver Stewart Clark, Studieavdelingen, e-post: stewart.clark@adm.ntnu.no, tlf. 73 59 52 45 eller faks: 73 59 52 37


«Translation» of degrees

What is a dr. ing., siv. ing. or cand. mag. degree called in English? The answer is that the Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs has stated that there is not to be any translation of degrees. Consequently, the name of Norwegian degrees is also to be used in English and other languages. This is logical as the content, structure and level of degrees vary around the world. This column looks at how to
handle Norwegian degrees in English.

Doctoral degree, PhD, dr. art., dr. ing.

A doctoral degree is the highest university degree. The most normal type at universities in or based on the UK/US higher education systems is the Doctor of Philosophy (usually abbreviated PhD in British English (BE) and Ph.D. in American English (AE)). This degree is from any faculty apart from law, medicine and sometimes theology. Although PhD is equivalent to the highest degrees awarded by Norwegian universities (such as: dr. art., dr. ing., dr. scient., dr. med.), it is not recommended that you «translate» your dr. art. or dr. ing. to PhD, as no two degrees are identical. A business card or a CV must have the name of the degree you have and NTNU does not award the PhD degree. No one is going to misunderstand dr. ing. If a specification is required, write Ole Olsen, dr. ing. (Doctorate in Chemical Engineering). Some students at NTNU call themselves «PhD student» which is misleading as there is no such degree at NTNU. The term «Doctoral student» would be more accurate.

Master's degree, MA, MSc

A master's degree is the second or further degree from a university or equivalent institution. The most normal types at universities in or based on the UK/US higher education systems are Master of Arts (usually abbreviated MA in BE and M.A. in AE) and Master of Science (abbreviated MSc in BE and M.S. in AE). This degree is roughly equivalent to second or professional degrees from Norwegian universities. Once again, it is not recommended to «translate» cand. philol. to MAor sivilingeniør to MSc. In a CV or on a business card, use the title of the degree you have and, if you need to explain it, write Ole Olsen, cand. philol. (graduate degree in modern languages), Ole Olsen, siv. ing. (graduate degree in telecommunications). Another reason why such translations are misleading is that Norwegian universities now offer two-year masters-level degrees that are taught in English. Thus, an MSc in Hydropower Development at NTNU means a two-year degree designed for students that already have a BSc degree. Another complication is that some British universities award a first degree called MA in some honours degree courses. An example is Edinburgh whereMA (Hons.)is the first degree in the Arts andM Littis the second degree.

Bachelor's degree, BA, BSc

A bachelor's degree is the first degree from a university or equivalent institution. The most normal types at universities in or based on the UK/US higher education systems are Bachelor of Arts (usually abbreviated BA in BE and B.A. in AE) and Bachelor of Science (abbreviated BSc in BE and B.S. in AE). This degree is roughly equivalent to first degrees in Norwegian universities, but do not «translate» cand. mag. to BA or BSc. Use the title of the degree you have. If you want to give an explanation, write Ole Olsen, cand. mag. (undergraduate degree in social sciences).

Tricky words

Defective, deficient

Defective (Norw. defekt) refers to things that do not function, such as defective software meaning software that does not work. It is old fashioned and offensive to use defective for someone with a mental illness. A suitable alternative is learning difficulty, which is now the official term in Britain.

Deficient (Norw. mangelfull) means insufficient. Deficient software means software that is not good enough for a task.

Enlightening English

«The cand. philol. degree» becomes «the canned phalli degree» in the automatic spelling correction option in Word.

«He took a doctorate in unclear physics.»

«We apologize for the error in last week's paper in which we stated that Mr Arnold Dogbody was a defective in the police force. We meant, of course, that Mr Dogbody is a detective in the police farce.» (Correction in the Ely Standard, an English local newspaper.)