In my country, we have an official list of academic words and phrases translated into English. One of these phrases is apply for the award of a qualification, which is supposed to mean 'send in an application in order to get one's qualification/degree'. Now I'm wondering if this phrase – apply for the award of a qualification – really is idiomatic/makes sense to native speakers of English? If not, what would be appropriate to use instead?

  • 2
    Not at all idiomatic. I imagine the idiomatic phrase depends on the specific process. But beyond that, the process you describe sounds kind of unfamiliar - you seem to be describing a process by which someone receives a qualification or a degree primarily on the basis of a mailed application.
    – cruthers
    Nov 8, 2021 at 23:23
  • 1
    Maybe "applied for a qualification". The words *the award of..." seem unnecessary. Nov 9, 2021 at 2:02
  • Is the phrase being used to describe the process by which a person may obtain evidence that they are qualified, or is it a disparaging statement suggesting that the qualification is so arbitrary that all one needs to do is apply and it will be awarded? Nov 9, 2021 at 4:28
  • @cruthers Thank you! My thoughts exactly :) As for the process, a student needs to formally apply for their degree once they've completed their studies in order to get a degree certificate; their results are recorded in a national database either way, but in order to get the certificate, they need to apply for it.
    – Helen
    Nov 9, 2021 at 12:47
  • @JackO'Flaherty Right, thanks! That makes sense :)
    – Helen
    Nov 9, 2021 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


Based on the comments, it seems like you already fully understand the issues here, but to sum up my views:

  1. "Award of" is superfluous in any case.
  2. "Apply" is a bit of a strong word choice, as that word usually implies that there is some question as to whether the applicant will actually receive the thing applied for. When the person receiving the "application" materials simply provides the requested thing more or less automatically, the form is more of a "request" or even an "order" than an application.
  3. A "degree" or "qualification" exists in an abstract sense to me, in that these are both conferred after a series of efforts and exist apart from any piece of paper stating that they have been earned (which most would just view as proof/evidence of the degree/qualification). So it's not really the degree/qualification that is being requested by mail in this case - it is rather the paper certificate that shows that the degree/qualification has been earned.

I would therefore suggest "requesting the degree/qualification certificate" or "sending away for the certificate" or the like. However, "applying for a degree" doesn't sound too bad, and any confusion can be cleared up with an explanation such as the one you've provided.

  • Excellent! Thank you!!
    – Helen
    Nov 9, 2021 at 16:32

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