How to ask properly about the stage of a student at the university? Are the following ways considered natural?

In which /what course are you?

(meaning about the year. 1st course, 2nd course, 3rd course etc. this is the way it's used in eastern Europe, but I'm not sure it's correct for the native English speaker ears)

In which / what year are you?

  • To improve the question: do you have any examples from your research; what do you think the answer might be? (Please Edit and add details.) Details Please. Sep 24, 2019 at 9:47

1 Answer 1


The answer to this depends more on how university years are organised in your region. University years are not uniformly structured across the English-speaking world.

A fairly generic approach might be:

How far along are you in your university programme?

What year (of university) are you in?

In much of the Commonwealth (including Canada), the answer will likely include year of the programme a student is in. There might be a reference to the school semester or term.

  • Winter (usually January-April)
  • Summer (usually May-August and sometimes a part-time/wrap-up period at many schools)
  • Fall (usually September-December)

Example answers:

I am just finishing up my second year this Summer.

I will start my final year this Fall.

Americans often use "freshman", "sophomore", "junior" or "senior" to refer to first, second, third or fourth year respectively. This is true for both high school and college/university in the US. These terms are not commonly used outside the US.

Wikipedia has a long article on university terms across the world, but some of the information may be generalised.

  • Whereas in the UK, those words are hardly used at all: they are recognised from their use in US fiction, but I suspect most British people would not know the answer to "which year is referred to as one's junior year?" ("Freshman" is used, but it means "new student", not "student at any point in the first year"). Also, most courses at most universities in England and Wales (not Scotland) are three years rather than four. But "course" cannot mean "year of study" - anywhere in the Anglosphere as far as I know.
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 23, 2019 at 21:11
  • Maybe the reason it means so in eastern Europe, is because Russian language has a word which pronounce the same as the word course and means 'year of study'. Sep 23, 2019 at 21:46

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