WHAT IS CREDENTIAL EVALUATION?
Credential evaluation is a process that compares academic credentials earned anywhere in the world to those awarded in the U.S. An evaluation allows U.S. academic institutions, professional bodies and employers to understand the level and content of foreign education in terms that are familiar to them and decide whether (and to what degree) to recognize the foreign credential as meeting their requirements.
By submitting foreign credentials for evaluation, an individual can get credit for foreign education and not “start over.” Evaluations can be used to help immigrants gain admission or receive transfer credit in an academic program, become a licensed professional or qualify for employment.
How Are Foreign Degrees Recognized in the U.S.?
There are well-established systems and methods for recognizing foreign academic credentials in the United States. However, the process is generally not well-understood.
- The steps to achieving recognition of foreign credentials can vary tremendously in different circumstances.
- Careful research is required so that an individual can successfully navigate this process.
Unlike in some countries where there is a Ministry of Education, there is no single authority that governs the recognition of foreign qualifications in the U.S. Instead, three types of authorities are involved in evaluating and recognizing foreign credentials: institutions of higher education, employers, and state boards of professional licensing.
- Within these broad categories, each individual institution, employer or board is free to establish its own standards and procedures for credential recognition.
- Some of these authorities conduct their own evaluations.
Most rely instead on external, independent credential evaluation agencies, such as World Education Services (WES), that specialize in analyzing a foreign credential and comparing it to a similar qualification in the U.S.
Recommendations from external agencies are always advisory: the final decision to “recognize” a foreign credential rests with the recipient institutions that will make the admissions, licensing or hiring decision.