Kerry had a cumulative average of 76 and got four Ds his freshman year - in geology, two history courses and political science, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.
His grades improved with time, and he averaged an 81 his senior year and earned an 89 - his highest grade - in political science as a senior.
"I always told my dad that D stood for distinction," Kerry said in a written response to reporters' questions. He said he has previously acknowledged focusing more on learning to fly than studying.
Under Yale's grading system in effect at the time, grades between 90 and 100 equaled an A, 80-89 a B, 70-79 a C, 60 to 69 a D, and anything below that was a failing grade.
In 1999, The New Yorker magazine published a transcript showing Bush had a cumulative grade average of 77 his first three years at Yale, and a similar average under a non-numerical rating system his senior year.
Bush's highest grade at Yale was an 88 in anthropology, history and philosophy. He received one D in his four years, a 69 in astronomy, and improved his grades after his freshman year, the transcript showed.
Kerry, a Democrat, previously declined to release the transcript, which was included in his Navy records. He gave the Navy permission to release the documents last month, the Globe reported.
Kerry graduated from Yale in 1966, Bush in 1968.