Do I really need to submit an “official” and an unofficial transcript? What exactly is an official transcript? Should I mail or email the transcript to your office?

Yes, you must submit with your application both an unofficial copy of your transcript AND an official copy of your transcript for each undergraduate and graduate school you graduated from or will graduate from.

An official copy of your transcript is one that is delivered to the PiAf office in a format that is certified, sealed and unopened. You can order an official copy of your transcript at your university’s registrar’s office. Many applicants will only have the option of ordering a hard copy of your official transcript to have delivered to the PiAf office by mail in a signed, sealed envelope. Some applicants’ universities may provide digital official transcripts which are delivered to the PiAf office via email in an electronic pdf format. These electronic pdf transcripts are considered official documents and can be validated because they have been digitally signed and certified by your institution. If your school provides electronic copies of official transcripts, you may have the registrar email it to Please note, you cannot forward an electronic official transcript to PiAf, the transcript must be received from your Registrar’s office directly to Princeton in Africa.

In order to submit the application, you will need to upload an unofficial copy of your transcript to the online application. This unofficial copy is merely a scan of your official transcript once it has been removed from the official envelope provided by your university’s registrar’s office (remember that once the transcript is unsealed it becomes unofficial). If you are submitting one transcript to PiAf with your application, you will need to order two copies of the transcript from your registrar’s office (one to open, scan and upload to the online form and one that will remain sealed for you to mail to the PiAf office). If you receive your unofficial transcript as an electronic version, please be sure that the PDF is not digitally sealed or coded in a way that it will expire or not be visible to multiple users. Some electronic official transcripts will have expiration coding; it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that your unofficial transcript will remain available to the Review Panel during the entire application process.

Important Note: If your school delivers your official transcript to you, please do not open the envelope before sending the transcript to us. (It is no longer official if the seal on the envelope is broken.)

We highly recommend contacting your Registrar’s office and discussing with them the best way to acquire your official and unofficial transcripts as each university has its own system.

Posted in: The Application