Monday, March 9, 2015

What International Students Should Know About Credential Evaluations

By Sangeetha Shanmugham
World Education Services

Credential evaluations enable international students to pursue higher education or seek employment in the U.S. After you apply to have your transcript evaluated, you will receive a report that includes information about your credentials and their U.S. equivalency. The report helps U.S. colleges and universities – and employers – to understand the quality of the education you received in your home country, and how you performed academically.

Here’s an example of a credential evaluation report:

What is the benefit of a credential evaluation?
Education systems around the world vary significantly, so an accurate and objective analysis of a foreign transcript can be very beneficial to American schools and employers. The admissions staff at a U.S. college or university may not be familiar with the school you attended back home, or the grading scale they used; a credential evaluation helps them to better understand your educational background and achievements. If you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in your education, then you want your accomplishments to be interpreted and recognized correctly

Who performs credential evaluations?
In the United States there is no single agency or authority responsible for foreign credential evaluations. Some organizations (employers, licensing boards, universities) do their own evaluations, but most rely on an independent credential evaluation service, like World Education Services, to provide them with a report.

What are the different kinds of evaluation reports?
In general, an individual can request a basic credential evaluation that describes their credentials, or a detailed report (sometimes called “course-by-course”) that provides additional analysis of grades, credit hours and/or course content. Evaluators consider the value of a transcript in the context of a country’s education system: whether the university is accredited, entrance requirements, program length, major/specialization, and date of award. The evaluation report includes all of this information about the original credential, along with the U.S. equivalency.

For an additional cost, a detailed analysis 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 assessing 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 with certain prerequisites.

How does the evaluator determine equivalency?
Agencies use a variety of research tools and resources to determine the status of foreign academic institutions and to assess individual academic achievements against the U.S. system and standards of education.

Are these credential evaluation reports recognized by everyone?
No Evaluation reports are advisory and not binding for any institution. Ultimately, only the institution receiving the credentials has the authority to make the final decision on whether and how to recognize the credentials; schools are not bound by the opinions or recommendations of an evaluation service, even if a school requires or recommends that service to prospective international students.

Are you considering getting a credential evaluation report? If so, start the process early, as it will take time for your home institution to send documents to the credential evaluation agency. You can start the process now by visiting Also, check out our two free tools to estimate the U.S. equivalency for your GPA and degree certificate:

1. WES Degree Equivalency Tool
This tool includes most degrees awarded by recognized degree granting institutions. Not all degrees and institutions may be available.

2. WES GPA calculator
Obtain a U.S. GPA calculated on a 4.0 scale. Did we mention it’s completely free?

Finally, to all our readers from India and Nigeria, you can find country-specific requirements in the following posts:

Nigerian Students – Why and How to Get Your Credentials Evaluated

Indian Students – How U.S. Universities Evaluate Your 3-year Indian Bachelor’s Degree

So that’s credential evaluations in a nutshell. Do you plan to get one before you apply to schools in the U.S.? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!

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