The United States does not have a single group that recognizes the foreign degrees and other qualifications that you may bring in order to obtain a degree in the United States. International agreements and practice recognizes the admitting school or higher education institution for those who are looking to attend a university in the United States.
What Qualifications Do I Need?
In order to be accepted to a university in the United States, you must have a secondary school diploma or the equivalent at the very least. Then, there are a variety of factors that they look at, including the grades that you had and any relevant test scores. In many cases, the university will have to figure out your home country’s equivalent to those standard requirements.
Because every country’s educational system is so different, some universities may have a hard time making this determination. Many times, the admitting university will turn to what are called credential evaluation services. Sometimes your international studies office will tell you what you need to know in order to be admitted to the university, but they will end up turning to these services as well. These services are independent groups that perform analyses of qualifications and credentials and tell the university what those are equivalent to.
If the higher education institution recommends a particular credential evaluation service, then go with that one. Sometimes, you may not have to do anything and the university will take care of that part. If they just tell you that you have to find an evaluation service, then you need to be very careful; there are a number of them out there, but there is no federal or state regulation of these services.
Choosing a Credential Evaluation Service
How can you know which credential evaluation services are legitimate? You cannot go wrong if you use one of the credential services that are involved in either (or both) of these two associations:
- National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) – 19 credential evaluation services that have admission standards and an enforced code of good practice.
- Association of International Credentials Evaluators (AICE) – 10 credential evaluation services are members of this association; they have a board of advisors and an enforced code of ethics.
What do Credential Evaluation Services Need From Me?
Here are some of the things that the credential evaluation service will need from you in order to process your request for an evaluation.
- Fees. The cost of the evaluation will differ on what information you have available.
- English translations. If you have anything that is in the native language of your home country, see if you can obtain a certified English translation of the documents.
- The program you are studying. Your acceptance to a university program may be based on what program you are studying; certain programs may have different requirements for admission.
- More is better. If you have any information related to your education in your home country, no matter what it is, give it to them. Grade averages, degrees, diplomas, certificates, test scores, and whatever else you may have should be given to the credential evaluation service so they can have as much information as possible to evaluate your case. The more information you provide, the more likely it will be that you will accepted.
The credential evaluation service will then evaluate your case. There are many factors included in the evaluation process, and the service will look at your case individually. This is how evaluations are done for U.S. Citizens as well; we talk about that more in our section on Applications. You may be evaluated differently depending on what university you are seeking to attend as well.
If you disagree with an evaluation, they do have appeal processes available. The international studies office at the university you wish to attend can help you go through the appeals process without a lot of hassle. Going through the appeals process may take a while, and you may not have a favorable outcome, but it is worth a try if you wish to attend that university badly enough.
The qualifications that you need to attend university in the United States will be determined by the university and the credential evaluation service(s) that the university and/or you use. The international studies office at your desired university will assist you with any of the questions or concerns that may come up during the process of applying to university. Do not get discouraged and make sure to communicate regularly. Good luck with all of your applications!