International Students: External Credential Evaluation Services

Many universities request that students who have studied outside of the U.S. submit a credential evaluation or course-by-course evaluation from an external credential evaluation service. While these evaluations are expensive they can be beneficial, especially if you are transfer student.

Education systems vary throughout the world and in some countries the grading scales vary from university to university. Most university admissions offices have a trained foreign credential evaluator on staff who can determine international course and degree equivalencies. If you are requesting that courses from your home institution be transferred to a U.S. institution, this will require a good deal of background knowledge and research on the part of the foreign credential evaluator. International university information is not always easily available in English and it is also very difficult to ascertain the number of hours you studied and the academic content of the course to determine if it is equivalent to any coursework available at a U.S. institution.

Universities generally do not award transfer credit if there is any doubt that the course may not be equivalent to the course offered at their school. A credential evaluation service can help clear up any doubts by doing the necessary research and providing a course-by-course evaluation with information and a recommendation on how the university should proceed with awarding credit. The final decision rests with the university.

If you are asked to submit an outside evaluation, be sure to confirm with the university if they recommend or require any particular service or if they have a list of approved services.

While there are many certified evaluation agencies, here are links to three of the most widely recognized:

World Education Services
Educational Credential Evaluators
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO)


One Response

  1. I don’t think Emily made it clear enough to international applicants that it is pointless for them to pay the several hundreds dollars required for a private credential assessment letter if they intend to apply only to universities that have the capability of doing their own assessments, and who would see a WES, ECE or AACRAO letter of assessment as a waste of time and money – just another piece of paper to clutter up the applicant’s file. They should first check with the universities to which they intend to apply and ask whether or not a private credential assessment agency’s letter is required or would be considered useful, and if so, which agency and which type of letter.

    Universities that do not develop the capability to do their own assessments, instead relying upon equivalency letters from private agencies should appreciate that they may be handicapping themselves in the recruitment race for international students – through delays, extra expense, additional documentation rules and requirements, lack of flexibility, and an ever-growing lack of expertise to be able to speak authoritatively to potential applicants about their educational background and chances for admission, etc.

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