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Why Should International Students Get a Credential Evaluation?

Tuesday | April 8, 2014 | by Sangeetha Shanmugham

Foreign credential evaluation is a process that converts the academic credentials that you earned outside of the U.S. or Canada. At the end of the process, you’ll receive a credential evaluation report that includes information about your original credentials as well its U.S. equivalency. This report allows your education to be understood by anyone who is familiar with the education system in the U.S. The following image shows a sample Course-by-Course analysis.

What Is the Benefit of a Credential Evaluation?
Educational systems around the world vary significantly, so an accurate and objective analysis of how a foreign educational credential compares to the U.S. system can be very beneficial.

For example, a credential evaluation report can help university admissions officers make admissions decisions by taking your prior education and experience into account.The time and energy invested in education pays off when your academic credentials are understood and recognized correctly.

Who’s Responsible for Credential Evaluations?
In the United States, there’s no single agency or authority (such as a Ministry of Education) that’s responsible for foreign credential evaluation. Some organizations (for example, employers, licensing boards, universities) do their own evaluations, but most of them rely on an independent credential evaluation service such as World Education Services to provide them with an evaluation report.

What Are the Different Kinds of Evaluation Reports?
In general, an individual can request a “basic” credential evaluation that describes the credential, or a “detailed” (sometimes called “course-by-course”) report that provides additional information on the student’s grades, credit hours, and course content. Credential evaluations consider the value of the credential in the context of the country’s educational system, whether the university is recognized, credential name, entrance requirements, program length, major/specialization, and the date it was awarded. The evaluation report includes all of this information about the original credential, along with the U.S. equivalency.

For an additional cost, a detailed report will analyze each course on the transcript, and convert credit hours, grades, and course levels to their U.S. equivalents. Some agencies will calculate a Grade Point Average (GPA), which is the standard way of reporting academic achievement in the U.S. A course-by course evaluation is almost always necessary when an individual is applying for transfer credit, or a graduate degree.

How Much Does an Evaluation Cost?
The cost of an evaluation depends upon many factors—the degree of detailed analysis required for your purpose, whether or not an agency charges for each credential it evaluates, processing time, etc. Fees for “basic” reports typically range from USD $70 to $150; “detailed” reports range from $150 to $350.

How Are Foreign Credentials Evaluated into the U.S. Equivalency?
Agencies use a variety of research tools and resources to determine the status of foreign academic institutions and to assess an individual academic achievement with the U.S. system and standards of education.

Does Everyone Recognize the Results of Credential Evaluation Reports?
No. Evaluation reports are advisory and not binding on any institution. Ultimately, the institution receiving the credentials has the authority to make the final decision on how they’ll recognize the credentials and isn’t bound by the opinions and recommendations of the evaluation service – even if they require or recommend the service.

Sangeetha Shanmugham is a Content Marketing Associate at World Education Services.