The United States is one of the biggest education markets in the world and receives a massive inflow of international students. The diversity of applicants and their respective education systems requires a common ground for evaluating educational credentials.
That being said, how does a school recognize the credentials of a foreign student? That is where credential evaluators come in. Credential evaluators play a crucial and very important role in this educational transition for students planning to study overseas. Credential evaluators work on a well-formulated ethical standard and serve people who have completed part or all of their education outside their host country and who are seeking further education abroad (or even professional licensure or employment).
There are predominantly 3 types of evaluations that credential evaluators offer:
- Course by Course Credential Evaluation– The course by course credential evaluation report identifies and describes each diploma/certificate and provides an equivalency for each document. It indicates a description of periods of education, courses, credit hours, grades and degrees, as well as overall academic performance in terms of the educational system in the United States (or your host country). The United States typically uses semester credits and a grade point average, or GPA, on a 4.0 scale.This type of report is generally required for college admissions, determining transfer credits or when applying for an advanced degree, as well as for professional licensing and certification matters.Documents required in this case include, but are not limited to, originals or certified copies of school transcripts (mark sheets) showing subjects studied, grades and credit hours earned for each course of study.
- Educational Credential Evaluation (document by document) – The document by document credential evaluation report describes and lists the educational institution(s) attended and the education credential(s) earned in a foreign country and states their U.S. equivalence (e.g. Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, etc.). This type of credential evaluation is most common for use in employment, immigration matters and university admission when transfer credit is not expected.The documents required in this case include (but are not limited to) originals or certified copies of all original academic documentation – diplomas, certificates and/or transcripts (indicating graduation date and major) with English translations if necessary.
- Professional Work Experience Evaluation – The professional work experience credential evaluation is provided for immigration purposes most commonly for those applying for H-1B visas in the United States. This credential evaluation report evaluates both an individual’s professional work history and educational credentials in order to establish a Bachelor’s degree equivalency. This type of credential evaluation cannot be used for educational or licensure purposes.The documents required in this case include, but are not limited to, certified copies of all original academic documentation – diplomas, degree, certificates and/or transcript (indicating graduation date and major) with English translations, a detailed resume indicating each position held, with a description of job duties and responsibilities, start and end date of each position and project, including tools and skills used and employer’s name and geographical location. Also, reference letters of employment from each employer, indicating job title, start date, end date, and job descriptions (basically attesting to the basic facts of the employment summary).Many credential evaluation agencies also provide professional resume writing services.
Some credential evaluators may also have a CPA Board Evaluation for those applying for state Certified Public Accounting exams, amongst other evaluations.
Forged or altered documents are handled very seriously by U.S. credential evaluator since establishing the validity of academic credentials is the most important purpose of the evaluation process. Credential evaluators communicate any doubt to the institution that issued the document to verify it. If the institution confirms that the document is not authentic, the receiving U.S. institution may be notified along with it being entered into various records.
Most acclaimed credential evaluation agencies have a rigorous application procedure with excruciatingly detailed document requirements. This only further reinforces the credibility of the credential evaluator and also that of the applicant.
There is no government agency that specially monitors these foreign credential evaluation services and therefore most of them are affiliated with various associations. Affiliation with a selective association is an important indication of the quality of work accomplished by a credential evaluation service and an assurance that the evaluations it performs will be reliable.