If you are educated outside the U.S. or Canada, a credential evaluation will help university and college admissions officers understand your previous education and academic achievements. Evaluating your previous education is one of the first steps toward pursuing your education and professional goals.
Below are the steps you need to take to successfully obtain and use your credential evaluation for education purposes.
Become Familiar with the Credential Evaluation Process
There is no federal agency that governs the recognition of foreign credentials in the U.S. Each institution sets its own rules regarding recognition and acceptance of credentials earned abroad.
Colleges and universities have their own process for evaluating credentials—some prefer to evaluate credentials themselves but others refer prospective students to professional evaluation organizations.
Check with the Academic Institution for Their Requirements
Check with the institution you would like to attend to learn their process and requirements for credential evaluations. Generally, you can find information about foreign credential evaluation on a school’s website. If the information is not available on the website, contact the admissions office about their requirements.
While researching requirements, keep the following questions in mind:
- Does the university perform its own evaluations or do they rely on external evaluation services?
- If they rely on external evaluation services, which service(s) do they accept?
- Do they offer a list of approved agencies?
- What type of evaluation report do you need?
- What is the deadline to submit your application to the academic institution, and must the credential evaluation be complete before this deadline?
- Is the credential evaluation used to award transfer credit or advanced standing?
Choose a Credential Evaluation Service
If the institution you are applying to does not perform its own evaluations, you have to choose an evaluation agency. There are unreliable or fraudulent evaluation services, so be sure to choose an evaluation service that is accepted or recommended by the academic institution. If they don’t recommend an agency, select one that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). NACES sets professional standards for all member evaluation agencies.
Check the credential evaluation fees and read the procedures and timelines before deciding on a credential evaluation agency. Most universities require a course-by-course evaluation, which is a detailed course analysis that includes transcript verification and evaluation of courses and grades. Be sure the evaluation agency offers the type of evaluation required by the school you want to attend.
Submit Your Application for Credential Evaluation
After you have chosen a credential evaluation agency, start the evaluation process as early as possible.
Make sure you know the following:
- The application deadline of the school to which you are applying
- The time it takes to obtain your documents, transcripts, and translations
- The time it takes for the evaluation agency to complete the evaluation (processing time) once your documents have been received. This can vary from a week to several months.
Some agencies and schools allow you to track the process of your evaluation online. You can always contact the evaluation agency you chose regarding the status of your evaluation.