What is a credential evaluation?

A credential evaluation is a document which interprets the educational credentials earned in one country in terms of the educational system of another country. Ucredo evaluates credentials earned in another country in terms of the educational system of the United States.

What is an educational system?

Each country in the world has its own educational system. Education in most cases is built like a ladder, such that higher levels of education build upon lower ones. For an illustration, see the images below illustrating the educational system in France, courtesy of Eurypedia, an online encyclopedia of European educational systems maintained by the European Commission.

French educational ladder used for credential evaluation

Glossary of French educational ladder used for credential evaluation

As the pictures show, secondary education in France is divided into two levels: lower secondary (collège) and upper secondary (lycée general or lycée professionnel). At the end upper secondary school, students usually take a national exam called the baccalauréat. In order to go to university in France, a student must have completed upper secondary school. If this same student wants to continue their education in the United States, they would have to show proof of completion of secondary school. The process of determining the equivalency between the educational attainment in France and its U.S. equivalent is the primary benefit of a credential evaluation.

If you want to learn more about educational systems, you can explore the in-depth country profiles maintained by the International Bureau at UNESCO.

What questions does a credential evaluation answer?

A credential evaluation should provide answers to these basic questions:

  1. What level of education did the student complete in their native country?
  2. What diploma/degree (if any) did the student earn?
  3. Did the student attend a legitimate and recognized institution?
  4. How do the student’s credentials equate in another educational system (such as the U.S. educational system)?
  5. How does the student’s grade point average translate to the other educational system?

What does a credential evaluation include?

A credential evaluation assesses the level, scope, intent, and equivalence of educational credentials. The items contained in the credential evaluation may differ depending on who is doing the evaluation. At Ucredo, we include the following in our reports:

  • Name of credential
  • Name of previous institution
  • Accreditation status of institution
  • Entrance requirements for pursued course of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Date of degree award (if any)
  • Length of program
  • Field of study
  • U.S. equivalent degree
  • U.S. equivalent grade point average (GPA)
  • U.S. equivalent semester credits

What is a credential evaluation used for?

A credential evaluation is used for many purposes. Most commonly, it is part of a university’s admission requirements. Since each country in the world has its own educational system, it is important to understand how the academic attainment in one educational system compares to that of another. This helps admission officers, registrars, faculty members, and others to determine the student’s eligibility for admission, scholarships, or transfer credits.

Credential evaluations are also used outside of higher education. Most commonly, general credential evaluations are used for employment and immigration purposes. Many U.S. employers are unfamiliar with the foreign qualifications, and require an outside agency to certify that the applicant has the equivalent degree necessary for the job. Similarly, foreign nationals applying for an H1B visa or permanent resident status may need to certify that they have the equivalent level of education in the U.S. for degrees or qualifications earned abroad.

Who can complete a credential evaluation?

Most often, credential evaluations are done by trained international education professionals at universities or by third parties specialized in the field. Unlike some countries, there is no agency in the U.S. government that handles certification and evaluation of foreign credentials.

Why use a private company to review my documents?

A private company specializing in credential evaluation employs seasoned professionals who specialize in comparative international education. These individuals have both extensive knowledge as well as access to the most up to date research/literature on the subject. These companies conform to a standard of ethics and commit themselves to delivering an unbiased assessment of a student’s previous educational history.

How much does a credential evaluation cost?

The cost of a credential evaluation varies depending on the purpose and the detail involved in the evaluation. There are considerable differences in price among providers. Most general evaluations cost $75-$150, most course by course evaluations are $150-$250. Specialized evaluations are more expensive. Please make sure to select the right evaluation for your needs by seeing a sample before ordering your own. For an idea on how an evaluation may look like, you can visit our requirements page.

How long does it take to receive a credential evaluation?

On average, most credential evaluation companies take about 2 weeks to complete a general evaluation. Most course by course evaluations take 2-3 weeks to complete. Rush services are available for an extra charge. At Ucredo, a general evaluation is done in 2-3 days. A course by course evaluation is done in 3-5 days. You should consult with the credential evaluation provider directly to get an accurate estimate for the evaluation time.