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What Are the Limitations of the Adobe Student & Teacher Versions?

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The Adobe Student and Teacher Editions look like a great deal. They offer big discounts, as much as 70% off normal prices. They’re available for most of Adobe’s most popular products, including the Creative Cloud (CC), Creative Suite 6, Lightroom 5, Acrobat XI, and Elements 13.  They can be purchased by anyone who qualifies – primary, middle, and secondary school students, homeschoolers, college or university students, faculty, teachers, and administrators.  Even part-time students or teachers can be eligible, and there is no maximum age limitation. They’re available pretty much worldwide in many languages on both Windows and Mac OS, and you don’t need any kind of coupon or promotion code to get the deep discounts.

So what’s the catch? Is the Academic software different or limited somehow? Is there any sort of time restriction, time limit, or time out – do the perpetual Adobe Student Editions expire? Or are they unusable for commercial purposes or paid work?

The answer to all of these questions is fortunately no: the Education products are identical in features and functionality in every respect to their standard counterparts – the only differ­ences are the prices and some of the licensing terms… The prices, as mentioned, can be a real bargain – for example, instead of US$999 for 2012’s Photoshop CS6 Extended, the price is only $349; instead of $1,899 for CS6 Design & Web Premium (the popular suite containing seven creative tools including Photoshop CS6 Extended), you get it for $599.

And for the Creative Cloud – Adobe’s current all-inclusive offering which contains the entire “Master Collection” plus much more, essentially the latest-and-greatest versions of every major industry-leading tool that they make – there is also a Student & Teacher Edition available that costs only $19.99 a month (instead of $50) which means you’re getting it for less than half the regular price for your first year. So this CC option becomes more affordable for students than the traditional educational versions, plus you get to use every­thing based on an annual membership that includes ongoing upgrades.

Install now: Get all new Creative Cloud 2021 direct download links and free trials.

So What’s Different with the Adobe Education Versions?

Since Creative Suite 5, all Student and Teacher Editions can be utilized for personal as well as commercial use, for all academic customers worldwide. So yes, you can sell your services or anything you create, or use these products in developing a side business or online venture. And after graduation or completion of coursework, you can continue to use any perpetual software on your personal systems; there is no usage expiration and those tools will continue to work.

Generally speaking, you can also install the student/teacher versions on up to two computers (desktops and laptops), and move the software between different machines when necessary.

But it’s true there are some limitations as compared to the regular versions… though happily they are all fairly minor.  Here are the notable differences between the education editions vs. the normal (professional/commercial) versions:

  • Each eligible person may purchase only one copy of each academic product per platform per year.  Fortunately, each tool and suite and release are considered different products.  So Photoshop and Dreamweaver (for example) are different titles, as are CS6 and CC, and each suite is a different title, so you could buy these all within one year if you wanted.
  • Student & Teacher Edition software may be used on your privately-owned computer only.
  • This software is not transferrable, meaning it may not be resold or given to others.
  • You validate your status with a copy of your school ID card, transcript, report card, tuition bill, or other suitable document that’s dated within the last six months.  Or, if you just provide a school-issued email during purchase (like ending in “.edu”), then you will be instantly verified.
  • The traditional student editions cannot be upgraded to other (future) education editions – but they are entitled to receive Adobe’s discounted upgrade pricing to all regular commercial versions, –or– you can purchase another student edition if you still qualify.  However the student price on a newer release is often lower than the commercial upgrade price anyway, so you can just choose whichever is the least expensive option for you. Bottom line, this is another savings and benefit of having these editions.

So why take your chances on the risks and malware in a pirated or bootleg version when you can do the right thing instead and get the real deal – legitimate, supported, and completely safe – for up to 70% off, direct via instant download from Adobe?

Get it now

Special: Legally download dozens of free Adobe books for a limited time!

Finally, here’s a very helpful Student & Teacher Eligibility Guide & FAQ that should answer all other questions you may have, including documentation requirements…  Importantly, note that any verification documents dated within the last six months are considered current.

See Also

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800 thoughts on “What Are the Limitations of the Adobe Student & Teacher Versions?”

    • Thank you Electric for posting that. Amazon Prime is great for free shipping and that’s quite a nice offer to make it free for students.

      Amazon is good for a lot of items but they don’t give any real discount off the Adobe Student Editions, probably because the student prices are so heavily reduced already… Also you have to wait to get your software in a box – you can’t download your purchase instantly like on

      One way to look at it is free shipping becomes less helpful if you don’t need shipping because you can download the authentic item directly from the source.

      Thanks again for sharing that.

  1. Ah, thank you for outlining these minor differences. I’m a student who is planning on using the software for commercial design, and I was wondering if there were any restrictions – I’m very glad to find that there aren’t. Also, it’s worth knowing that you can install it on TWO computers, they just can’t be running at the same time.

  2. Hi James, glad it helped out and thank you for the kind words… And good luck with your projects – if you’re a student who can get CS5 at the education price while already doing paid work for business, you’re really ahead of the game!

  3. Hi @Brandon, thanks for your question.

    No, Amazon Prime is just a program that gives free shipping on something you buy there, that’s all.

    Adobe CS5 Student Editions can be purchased on Amazon, but are only a few dollars different from the prices at Adobe Education – and on Amazon you can’t get your product instantly with a direct download like you can at Adobe. Sorry for any confusion.

    At Adobe you can actually do both if you want – order the box for delivery but get started right away with an immediate and authentic product download. Hope this helps.

  4. Great info! I wish Adobe had this information clearly stated. I don’t suppose you know what the restrictions are on the other (non-‘student & teacher’) versions that are still discounted through the education store?? Are they eligible for upgrade?

    My biggest concern with the restrictions is this: I’m on Windows now, but I want to upgrade to a Mac in the next year or two. I have a mac I can use for now, so I am leaning towards investing in the Mac version of the software…but then will I be able to transfer to a new Mac when I get one? I also wanted to get the Design Suite, because although I only need Photoshop for right now, I want to better learn the other software, such as Illustrator and Dreamweaver, as I progress in the next year or two, and I’d like to have it ready to go (not to mention that the current Mac is pretty weak on storage right now, so it might only be able to handle one program…and that’s if I’m lucky!). The Design package is too good a deal to just get Photoshop for now, but I don’t want it to go to waste, either.

    Thanks for your help!! Much appreciated!

    • Hi Heather, thanks for your comment. You’re right the layout of Adobe’s site could be a bit clearer, although the info is all there in various places, especially in their excellent FAQ. We just tried to put together all the key “need-to-know” aspects on one page.

      To answer your good question about the regular Adobe Education versions versus the Student and Teacher Editions, there is no real difference on restrictions or upgrade options… See here and here for more.

      Finally, on later switching your CS5 license from PC to Mac, you’re in luck – it’s possible, and we just wrote a new article about it:

      How to Move Adobe CS5 Between Computers, or from PC to Mac

  5. Thanks for the great information and hoping you can provide clarity to the following FAQ on the Adobe site

    “Can I upgrade my Adobe Student and Teacher Edition software?

    Adobe Student and Teacher Edition software can be upgraded to a commercial version when the user is no longer a student or teacher. ”

    Does this mean that you will need to purchase the full edition upgrade or simply an update upgrade when you want to go to the commercial version?

    • Hi Bob, thanks for your question. This is one of the great advantages of Adobe’s education editions – even though they cannot be upgraded to other education versions, they can be upgraded to the regular commercial versions once you are no longer a student or teacher…

      So once you’re in the door with a purchased academic product, you’ll get the discounted upgrade price for moving to the next commercial version (e.g., Adobe CS6, Lightroom 4, Acrobat 10, etc) when it comes out.

      Here’s a quick example using Photoshop CS5 Extended

        Commercial full price: $999 (if you don’t own a prior version)
        Commercial upgrade price: $199 (80% off)
        Student and Teacher Edition: $199 as well

      So if you buy the academic version today for $199 and then you graduate, when Photoshop CS6 comes out you could upgrade for the commercial upgrade price of $199 instead of paying the full price of $999.

      For CS5 Design Premium, you’d get it for the Student price today of $449 instead of the normal price of $1,899, and then in the future if you wanted you could get CS6 Design Premium at the upgrade price of $599.

      So in essence you can save a lot of money twice – once now and again later if/when you upgrade, both versions at a discount. Hope this helps answer your question.

    • Hello Isaac, sorry if that wasn’t completely clear… You can definitely continue to use the Adobe Student Edition products after graduation (or completion of your coursework) – and that includes all of CS5, Lightroom, Acrobat, etc. There is no time limit or expiration or sudden restriction, and nothing will stop working.

      The upgrade discussion is that when the next release comes out (CS6, Acrobat 10, Elements 9, etc), then you would receive Adobe’s discounted commercial upgrade price if you wish to move to the next version, which is a big savings. But you don’t have to upgrade if you don’t want to; you can just keep and continue using the Student Edition you’ve already purchased.

  6. Thank you again for clarifying all of this information. When I contacted Adobe education sales, they told me that the regular education discounted version is for the schools to purchase, but the “Student & Teacher” version is discounted even further for… students and teachers. I purchased the CS5 Design Premium Student & Teacher version, along with Lightroom 3, and I couldn’t be happier! Thanks again!

    • That’s great Heather and you’re very welcome! Glad it’s all worked out for you and the article helped… spread the word so more folks know the scoop and how to take advantage of it.

  7. Hi,
    I just purchased the Student & Teacher Edition of CS5 Design Premium and was just wondering if I start a project at home on my own computer and then saved it on to a flash drive and open it at school on CS4 to finish it, will it work?

  8. From Adobe’s FAQ, an eligible student can purchase the “Student and Teacher” version of CS5 Master Collection from a valid educational institution and use the software for class and later commercially on a private computer (priced at my college @ $999); but it can’t be sold or given away for free.

    However, I’m unclear about the licensing terms per CS5 Master Collection when it’s purchased as a “Student And Teacher Licensing” product (priced at my college @ $599)—-can this lower-priced version be used commercially like the “Student and Teacher” version???

    If so, can you provide me an Adobe link that specifically clarifies this license???

    • Hi AC, you’re probably talking about this program. Adobe has a number of different programs for academic software, but as far as we are aware, the CS5 licensing terms outlined above are the same for all Adobe educational end-users. Hope this helps.

      Because it can be confusing, Adobe’s “regular” Education versions are sold to anyone with proof of being almost any level of student or an education employee, and have a serial number included. The Adobe Student & Teacher editions are only for higher education, and the serial number is obtained by submission of proof to a third-party service. The discounts for both are excellent, and both of these can be purchased online. All of the software is the same – just the activation key process is different.

  9. Hi,
    Can I use the student teacher edition software to produce a site from which I can make a profit or will I need the full version? The site I have in mind of creating is a gambling site. Thanks

    • Greetings Luke, this is the subject of some confusion because before CS5, commercial use of Adobe academic software was not always allowed…
      However our understanding is that all commercial uses of validly-purchased Adobe CS5 education versions are now permitted.

      You should see this reflected in the Student and Teacher Edition FAQ for your region, under “How can I use my software – during and after school?” Thanks for helping clarify this.

  10. Hi PD,

    I have a question concerning student & teacher versions as it concerns updates to the adobe software.

    For instance, Adobe has just updated LR3 to 3.2, but the student & teacher edition available through a retailer, such as amazon, only says that it is LR3 (i.e., 3.0). Will I be able to update my v3.0 to v3.2? Or do I need to wait for the retailers to carry a LR3.2 student & teacher edition.

    Or can you point me to a relevant adobe link concerning such educational versions and mid-cycle updates.


    • Hello TC, thanks for your question, which is a good and frequent one… The answer is good news: all Adobe educational software is eligible for free mid-cycle updates; in other words it works just the same as with the standard releases.

      In your example, if you purchased Lightroom 3 through Adobe’s Education Store or anywhere else, you could update it for free to version 3.2 via Adobe’s Product Updates page – where the files are free to download for all, but will work only when you own the relevant product. Hope this helps.

  11. Hi there, thanks for all the info.

    I just wanted to check one thing about upgrading in future. Say, for example, I buy the CS5 extended design standard package (comprising of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat), will I only be allowed to upgrade the whole package? Or will I be allowed to simply purchase the upgrade to Photoshop when CS6 comes out? I know that might sound odd, but my point is that upgrading Photoshop alone would (I suspect) be cheaper than upgrading the whole design package. Basically, in future I think the only thing I will ever want to upgrade is Photoshop.

    And, just for the sake of curiosity, what about the opposite scenario … i.e. what if i only bought Photoshop CS5 extended now, but decided in a few years that I wanted to upgrade to a full design package when CS6 comes out. Is such an upgrade available? Or would I have to pay full price for the whole design package?

    Thanks very much

    • Hey there Jonny, the short answers to your questions are: no to the first one and yes to the second. Adobe does not offer upgrade pricing for customers wishing to move from a suite edition to an individual CS component. However, for the other direction (standalone to suite, or suite to suite) – yes, definitely, that’s where the discounted upgrade pricing really kicks in.

      The best thing to do is just run the CS5 Upgrade Tool – and punch in the product you want, and then what you’ve already got – and it will give you the reduced price to download the upgrade instantly. (And if you don’t see a particular upgrade path offered there, then it’s not available/possible.)

  12. Hi, I’ve got another quick question, if that’s not too much hassle – this one is about eligibility for student purchases.

    I read in the FAQs that student and teacher packages are only available to “University and college students — students enrolled at a higher education institution defined as an accredited public or private university or college (including community, junior, or vocational college) that grants degrees requiring not less than the equivalent of two years of full-time study.”

    Does that mean that I must be studying towards a degree requiring not less than two years of full-time study, or does it mean that the institution must be one that merely has the capacity to grant such qualifications for some of it’s courses? The wording seems ambiguous, but this point is fairly critical for me. I’m a student on a one-year part-time Postgraduate course at University in England. Am I eligible?


    • Hello again Jonny, and that’s another good question that a lot of people wonder about… It’s the latter. In other words, the school must grant those degrees but you don’t necessarily have to be studying towards one. In fact, just being enrolled for one course at an accredited college or university is typically enough to qualify for Adobe’s generous student pricing.

      You’re right the wording could be read either way – but it’s really just there to make sure it’s a “real” school. Whatever your situation, if you want to make sure or have any questions about qualification, you may just want to double-check with Adobe first. But that’s our understanding of the rules so hope it helps.

  13. Hi, I’ve got a quick question. If I purchase the student edition, can I use it commercially when I travel internationally and working from outside North America?

  14. Hello, This is a cool price for educational software.

    In the limitation of this educational version says that “The software is not transferrable, and may not be resold or given to others”. If i have a problem with my computer Operating System, and i want to reinstall again on my Computer or Same Computer. Can I reactivate this educational version again?? Thanks

  15. Hi, is it possible to order a student edition of photoshop and install it on my personal work computer? I think my computer at home doesn’t have enough space.


    • Greetings AR, thank you for your question… Per Adobe’s FAQ, “Student and Teacher Edition software may be used on your own private computer only.”

      If you need to make more space on your computer for the installation, here and here are a couple of pages with some tips. And here’s an article about how to upgrade or add a hard drive, which are amazingly cheap these days, whether internal or external (USB plug-and-play).

  16. thank you, so if I install it on my own private computer can i then remove it and install it on a new computer if I get one?


  17. I recently took a class that allowed me to purchase the student edition of CS5 Design Premium (full version). I currently have CS4 Design Standard (commercial). I have heard it is better to install a full version as opposed to an upgrade. Is this true? I am better off installing the CS5 Design Premium Student Edition instead of the CS5 Upgrade Commercial? If so, should I remove CS4 from my OS and how do I remove it?


    • Hi Sully, thanks for posting your questions. You would end up at the same place in terms of product function and features regardless of whether you installed a full or an upgrade version of CS5. The major difference with the upgrade is it requires the serial key from your previous version to properly install itself… However you don’t need to have that previous version installed anywhere if you don’t want to – see this information.

      If you want to uninstall any version of Creative Suite, just deactivate the software and then use the operating system’s uninstall command. Run the Creative Suite Cleaner Tool when you’re done if you like, and reboot. Then your computer would be “clean” for whatever you want to do with it.

      All that being said, you don’t actually need to uninstall CS4 when you install CS5. You can (and many people do) run both versions on the same computer side-by-side, without interference.

      Thanks again for your comment.

  18. You see extremely helpful! My question is this…if I want to install the education photoshop onto more than one personal computer, am I able to get two serial keys? or can I only install it on one? I have one that I usually use at work and one at home, and I’d rather not have to bring them back and forth. Any suggestions?

  19. i’m buying CS5 Design Premium for my daughter as one of her Christmas Gifts (not knowing how costly it is) and i have had a lot of questions. ive spent days researching, chatting online with adobe and looking for cheaper prices. you have answered every single question and some i didnt know to ask, more than adobe itself. i have never wrote on one of these things, but i just had to take the time to say as a mom THANKS you are soooo good. i was so confused on so many things and not able to ask my daughter since it’s a surprise. thanks to you i know just what to do. P.S. you explain things very well and clear.

    • Dear Ms. Tammy, thank you very much for your lovely comment, it is much appreciated and so glad we could help!

      We hope your daughter loves her thoughtful gift, and please feel free to come back anytime and post any other questions you may have.

      Merry Christmas!

  20. Can you tell me if Heidelberg University in Tiffin Ohio is an accredited college to use the student edition of the CS5 Design Standard?


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