USA college equivalence and credits

College equivalence and credits for Trinity participants in the USA

Trinity candidates may apply to an approved international credential agency in the USA to have their certificates and diplomas assessed to receive credit equivalence towards college.  The applicant will receive a letter of determination from this agency certifying the academic equivalent to their Trinity credentials at an accredited American institution.  This letter substantially enhances the value of Trinity certificates as a credential when applying to a school, and as a basis for requesting credit or advanced standing.  Those students who are applying to colleges now are having from 2 to all 10 of the credits accepted.  There is an application fee for the evaluation.  Please be aware that the university system in US is very decentralized and, therefore, each university has its own acceptance policies.

Please note the following:

  • Students may only apply for credit evaluation at the end of the senior year of high school and only for the university at which the student is entering.  Early applications are not accepted.
  • Most universities in the United States will not recognize and award credits for Trinity exams completed in elementary and middle schools.

Equating Trinity examinations to American academic standards

Trinity College London examinations provide a worldwide, uniform standard of assessment in Music, Drama & Speech, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).  As such, they are an extraordinarily useful tool for student placement in academic programs, an internationally recognized certification of proficiency when a person is considered for a teaching or other professional position, and an assurance to students and parents that a teacher has achieved a level of professional competence in his or her subject.

Trinity College London is an awarding organisation in the United Kingdom which is recognised by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) in England, the CCEA Regulation (Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment) in Northern Ireland and by Qualification Wales.  Its regulated qualifications are regulated by these authorities through the Regulated Qualifications Framework.

Trinity provides examinations in all musical instruments including Voice, in Drama & Speech subjects including Musical Theatre, Communication Skills and Speech Communication Arts.  There are also written theory examinations in all subjects examined by Trinity.  Overseas examiners, who are rigorously trained to apply worldwide uniform standard of assessment to all candidates, examine all Trinity participants.  Currently, Trinity examines in over sixty countries.

The following table “translates” Trinity’s assessments into American equivalents.  It compares the proficiency ordinarily expected of a student progressing through the American educational system with that measured by successful completion of each level of Trinity’s graded and professional diploma examinations.  It is based on assessments actually received by all past Trinity candidates who have submitted their Trinity credentials to a credential agency for assessment:

Trinity Graded exams - level

US academic equivalent for music and drama & speech


Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3 / Foundation certificate

No generally accepted equivalent to the assessment provided by Trinity’s examinations at these levels exists in the US educational system

Grade 4

Grade 5

Reflects proficiency equivalent to that obtained by completion of a secondary school gifted and talented class or program. Equivalent to 1 High School credit in a gifted course in the subject matter.

Grade 6 / Intermediate certificate

Grade 7

Grade 8 / Advanced certificate

Equivalent up to 6 to 10 Undergraduate college credits in the examined subject. Completing Grade 8 represents achievement equivalent to substantial progress towards an undergraduate diploma or degree.  Completing Grade 8 in music theory is equivalent to completing undergraduate music theory requirements at most schools.

Trinity Professional diplomas - level

US academic equivalent for music and drama & speech

Associate of Trinity College London (1st level diploma) (ATCL)

Equivalent to an American Associate degree. 

Licentiate of Trinity College London (2nd level diploma) (LTCL)

An ATCL plus the Licentiate is equivalent to a Bachelor degree. A Bachelor degree plus the LTCL is equivalent to the Graduate Performance Diploma or 3 years of graduate studies from an American conservatory or university in the examined subject.

Fellow of Trinity College London (3rd level diploma) (FTCL)

The FTCL is equivalent to a Master's degree or an Artist Diploma in Performance from an American conservatory or university in the examined subject.

In the decentralized system of education found in the United States there is no standard admissions policy; each college determines its own.  Therefore, proper placement of Trinity participants in United States academic programs must take into account the requirement of most undergraduate degree programs that students complete classes outside their major area of study to satisfy a liberal arts requirement.  Because of this, both schools and students need to make sure application is being made for the appropriate diploma or degree, as well as that the student is placed at an appropriate level within the program.  Having said this, the table largely reflects the advanced credit actually received by candidates who have submitted their Trinity credentials to schools with an assessment from the international credential agency.

Please note that these equivalents only apply to Trinity College London's examinations.  They do not apply to examinations from other boards.

For application information regarding US evaluations of Trinity credentials contact the Trinity College London North American Coordinator, Lum Fun Lee.


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