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How to Select a Credential Evaluation Service in the US

college application
advice for students
By Deshan Mendis
Published on July 27, 2021

Credential evaluations are an important part of the application process for US universities and colleges. Learn more about how it works, why you need it, and more.

A female international student from Asia sits with a credential evaluation expert and goes over paperwork

When applying to a US college or university, you may be requested to compare the academic records you have earned in your home to their US equivalents. This is known as “credential evaluation.” Credential evaluation organizations apply a set of evaluation standards to translate an international student’s grades as accurately as possible, and also serve as a trustworthy third party to both international students and US universities.

So, how do you know which credential evaluation provider to choose? 

Read on to learn all about credential evaluation services, why they can be necessary, how you can have your credentials evaluated, where to evaluate international degree in the USA, the type of evaluation you need, how much it costs, how long it can take, and the documentation you need for it. 

What Is a Credential Evaluation Service?

Credential evaluation services are usually conducted by third-party organizations that specialize in transcript evaluation. As part of this service, an expert evaluator analyzes your academic and professional transcripts, certifications, and degrees you have earned in your home country and determines their US equivalents. 

They also outline other important information about your credentials, including the accreditation of the institute where you studied, the credit hours you have earned, and your overall performance.

Why Do I Need to Verify My Foreign Degree? 

The main reason for having your credentials evaluated is for US universities and colleges to verify that your academic credentials meet the institution’s application requirements. Some courses and certifications have different names in different countries, and credential evaluation helps US institutions understand if you are qualified for the program you are applying to. 

You can learn more about the requirements for certificate evaluation in USA at State.gov.

How Do I Verify a Foreign Degree In The US?

Credential evaluation services experts can verify a degree from your home country. The exact services offered by credential evaluators will differ between organizations and can address  different purposes including education, employment, or immigration. 

For example, Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) offer a general service that features a review of your academic documents and programs you have studied and lists their US equivalents. Other services help you convert your total academic performance into a US-institute recognized GPA, including a course-by-course evaluation that gives every course you have completed a US equivalent. 

To make sure you are providing what’s needed for your US university application, clarify the exact verification requirements with the universities you are applying to and that your potential credential evaluation services provider can meet those criteria. 

Which Credential Evaluation Services Organizations Are Accepted at US Universities?

The US allows certified credential evaluation organizations to carry out degree evaluation requests. Usually, these are organizations or agencies that specialize exclusively in credential evaluation services and use ethical and impartial evaluation standards.

While there is no official government body that monitors credential evaluation organizations, most agencies are affiliated with certified boards or associations, such as the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE) or National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You can learn more about each of these organizations at Aice-eval.org and Naces.org.

When searching where to evaluate an international degree in the USA, carefully research each service provider you are considering and compare their offerings to the requirements of the universities where you plan to apply. Some US universities and colleges may only accept certificate evaluation in the USA from specific associations. 

Remember, your advisor can help you learn where to evaluate an international degree in the USA and can direct you to a list of credential evaluation services that are reputable and trustworthy.

List of Credential Evaluators For International Students

Here is a list of established education evaluation services in the USA and worldwide:

American Evaluation Association (AEA)

The AEA is a large credential evaluation association in the US, made up of approximately 6,000 member organizations. These organizations represent all 50 US states and more than 80 countries around the world. The AEA hosts online educational courses about credential evaluation, annual events, historical publications, and more.

Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE)

The AICE focuses on developing and supporting best practices for credential evaluation on a global scale. The organizations they endorse are known to provide high-quality services. For organizations to join the AICE, they must go through a strict membership process to validate their evaluation services standards. Additionally, many AICE member organizations serve schools, universities, colleges, licensing boards, professional organizations, and individuals.

Association of International Educators (NAFSA)

NAFSA is a leading global association with a strong focus on supporting international education and exchange, with more than 10,000 members across 150 countries since 1948. The association focuses on training credential evaluators around the world, helping them develop higher standards in the evaluation process.

Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE)

ECE has more than 40 years experience in the credential evaluation industry, and specializes in credential evaluation for international students hoping to attend university in the US and Canada. They also provide online educational resources covering the evaluation process, including e-learning webinar training programs.

National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES)

NACES is composed of more than 15 different independent organizations that provide credential evaluation services. Association members emphasize high ethical and  professional conduct, alongside rigorous quality standards. With its Global Standards Program (GSP), NACES works with credential evaluation organizations outside the US to improve global evaluation quality. 

World Education Services (WES)

WES helps international students and immigrants begin their education and careers in the US. Since its founding in 1974, WES has conducted credential evaluations for approximately three million people in more than 200 countries. WES also offers online tools for self-directed evaluations, such as a GPA calculator, a list of US degrees and their international equivalents, required documents, and more.

Which Type of Credential Evaluation Do I Need?

The type of credential evaluation service you need depends on your personal requirements and the specific academic program where you hope to enroll. 

To find out which evaluation service you need, consider the following:  

  • Do you need it for education? Your future US university or college may ask for specific credential evaluations based on the type of program you are applying for (and requirements may be different for undergraduate and graduate applicants). These evaluations analyze your existing academic transcripts and performance, and may need to be requested in writing from the institutions where you previously studied.

  • Do you need it for a professional course or certification? If you want to enroll in a professional training or certification program in the US, the type of evaluation you need will depend on the specific profession. Certain credential evaluators may offer services only for particular industries, such as accounting or medicine.

  • Do you need it for employment? Some employers in the US may evaluate your credentials to ensure you meet their job requirements. The type of credential evaluation you need in this instance depends on the type of role you are applying for and the organization’s requirements. 

When you know exactly which credentials are required, like transcript evaluation services or to evaluate an international degree in the USA, you can narrow your search to only those providers that offer those evaluation services. 

How Much Will a Credential Evaluation Cost Me?

The cost of education evaluation services in USA depends on the evaluation organization you have selected, the policies of their governing association, the type of evaluation you need, and the requirements of your university or college in the US. 

For example, a General with GPA Credential Evaluation from the ECE — mainly used for education-related applications — can cost $130 (USD). Some organizations may charge an extra fee for additional copies of your evaluation, or for add-on services such as faster delivery.

If you need additional support with finding the costs related to credential evaluation, your advisor can assist you. They can also help you learn more about how to study in the US and can direct you to valuable student resources, including scholarly advisory services, visa assistance, career development, academic support, and more.

How Long Does it Take to Process an Evaluation?

Each organization will have its own timeline for degree evaluation, and this depends on the number of documents being evaluated, any additional services, and the type of evaluation. 

Typically, transcript evaluation can take approximately three to four weeks. For evaluations with fewer documents, it can take one week. Additionally, some organizations affiliated with evaluation associations, such as ECE, offer credential evaluation reports in five business days. 

When choosing the organization for your evaluation, remember to carefully research the time it takes for your report to arrive, including delivery. This is important to make sure you can provide the evaluation to your institution before the application deadline. 

What Type of Documents Do I Need for a Credential Evaluation Report?

Your required documents will vary depending on what your university or employer requests, the type of evaluation service you need, and the organization you plan to hire. 

When you contact an evaluation organization for their services, they usually inform you of the documents they require from you to conduct the evaluation. The documents required can include certified copies of all your academic records, including diplomas, certificates, and any other transcripts of previous education. 

If an English translation for your documents is available, you can submit these as well. Some organizations may provide a service to translate your documents into English if you do not have them already. 

Can I Order an Extra Copy Of My Credential Report?

Yes, you can! Most credential evaluation organizations offer an optional service to provide you with an extra copy of your report for an additional fee. This fee is usually less expensive than the full cost of the report. For reference, ECE and WES both charge $30 (USD) for a copy of a credential evaluation report. 

Researching where to evaluate an international degree in the USA can take time and effort, but it is important to choose the right organization for your evaluation needs. Your Shorelight advisor can help you throughout the credential evaluation process, including comparing evaluators and finding required documents. 

Speak to a Shorelight advisor today to learn more about credential evaluation >>