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Today, I've heard my lecturer who turned to us by the word: "sophomores". This the is the first time that I was exposed to this word in the meaning of "student of 2nd year".

My question if there are other names for the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. and if all these appellations are common in use?

  • In the BrE, first-year students are called "freshmen". We don't use "sophomore". "Final-year students" are called just that. – Mick Nov 14 '16 at 20:04
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The standard usage for 4-year schools in the United States (either high school or undergraduate university) is

  • 1st year: freshman
  • 2nd year: sophomore
  • 3rd year: junior
  • 4th year: senior

As far as I know, these are not in general usage in other English-speaking countries. And there are a few universities in the United States that do not use these terms, usually for historic or traditional reasons.

  • So I can conclude from your answer that these terms (includes sophomore) are in using for the universities students in the most of US universities? Did I get you well? – Judicious Allure Nov 14 '16 at 21:46
  • @Industrious: Yes, that is correct. We don't use these terms in British English ('fresher' is used, but it means a student in their first month or two). – TonyK Nov 14 '16 at 22:08
  • @Industrious Yes, you've got it. – John Feltz Nov 14 '16 at 23:58
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In American English, the common terms are as follows:

  1. Freshman
  2. Sophomore
  3. Junior
  4. Senior

These are used for two sets of students: college students (undergraduate university) and highschool students (grades 9-12). You might say "she's a college freshman" or "he's a senior in highschool" for example.

I would say that in the US, these terms are more common than "1st year" etc.

There is not a common term for fifth year of study. I've heard the term "super Senior", but my guess is that it's local slang and 5th year is the best option.

  • "super senior" yes is more slang, but implies someone who is in their 5yr of a 4th year program. You wouldn't hear it for a student doing a combined Bachelor's/Master's program where the 5th year may be graduate work – eques Nov 14 '16 at 20:13
  • It's worth noting that these designations are not universal. At the military academies, for example, first-years are fourth class, second-years are third class, and so on. And there are fifth-year seniors in 5-year programs (e.g. BArch, BFA) and even fourth-year juniors, in the case of redshirting juniors. – choster Nov 14 '16 at 21:22
  • So I can conclude from your answer that these terms (includes sophomore) are not used (anywhere) for the universities students but it's just for pupils up to 18 years old. Did I get you well? – Judicious Allure Nov 14 '16 at 21:44
  • I've updated the answer. It's used two cases: high school and college. I gave the age range as an attempt to clarify what these two terms referred two, as I believe they are also specific to the US. College in the US refers to the first 4-5 of university education before graduate degree work begins. – AlannaRose Nov 14 '16 at 23:00
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The word "sophomore" is principally an American English term. Most countries speaking English will have their own terms for years, for example:

England

Pre-school education is "nursery." Primary education is Year 1 (from age 4 or 5) to Year 6 (age 10/11). Secondary is Year 7 through 13, with the last two years often called "sixth form."

Scotland

Pre-school education is "nursery." Primary eduction is Primary 1 (age 4/5) to Primary 7 (age 11/12). Secondary is S1 through S6, with students typically being able to leave at the end of S4 (when they turn 16).

America

K-12 (kindergarten to 12) is pre-school ("kindergarten"), followed by elementary (1st to 4th grade), middle school or junior high (5th to 8th/9th grade), followed by high school (9th/10th to 12th grade).

For high school and university ("college" in the US), the four years are named:

  • Freshman for 9th grade or the first year of college,
  • Sophomore for 10th grade or the second year of college,
  • Junior for 11th grade or the third year of college,
  • Senior for 12th grade or the fourth year of college.

As far as I know, this isn't replicated in any other English dialect.


One key difference is that, in England and Scotland, "college" is typically for education below degree level, and university is for degree-level education and research. In the US, "college" is often used instead of the term "university."

  • So I can conclude from your answer that these terms (includes sophomore) are not used (anywhere) for the universities students but it's just for pupils up to 18 years old. Did I get you well? – Judicious Allure Nov 14 '16 at 21:43
  • @Industrious: Freshman/sophomore/junior/senior are used for university students and for high school students. However, in American English it's more common to call a university student a "college student." – LMS Nov 14 '16 at 22:02

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