Foreign Education Evaluation Guide: Choosing a Credential Evaluation Service

Posted on Oct 17, 2022 by SpanTran

It’s Admission Season: what type of evaluation is needed?

Currently, students around the world are applying to universities, hoping to be admitted to the program of their choice. As part of the admissions process, applicants may be asked to submit a foreign credential evaluation. Since there are different types of evaluations, applicants can often become confused and frustrated by this requirement. Don’t worry! We’ll walk you through the options, discuss their benefits, explain why they might be needed, and help you understand the process so you can decide what kind of evaluation you need.

Why do I need to submit a foreign credential evaluation?

There are many reasons why U.S. colleges, universities, and even high schools may require a credential evaluation. Colleges and universities want to ensure that they are evaluating applicants fairly and not allowing bias to creep into the process. If an admissions officer or members of the Admissions Committee are not familiar with an academic system, its schools, or universities, they may assume the system is not as strong as a system or a university that they are familiar with and rank that applicant lower. A foreign credential evaluation is completed by a neutral party; they are not part of the admissions process and evaluate academic credentials based on quality research and objective measures. When all applicants who studied outside the U.S. submit an evaluation, the Admissions Committee can make decisions based on objective, accurate information. There is less chance for bias to influence the process.

U.S. colleges and universities also ask applicants for credential evaluations because they don’t have the time, the staff, or the expertise to evaluate the millions of documents from the thousands of applicants of different countries that are submitted. Admissions officers can instead focus their time on assisting applicants, answering questions, and making admission recommendations. Having an evaluation completed by credential evaluators allows admissions professionals to focus on what they do best.

Receiving credential evaluations also avoids bottlenecks in the process. Credential evaluation professionals can more easily identify if important information is missing. This ensures that the applicant’s academic history is available to the Admissions Committee when they first meet, and applicants aren’t asked for additional information later. Being asked for additional information months after the application deadline is stressful and worrying to applicants. Applicants want to know their admission decision as soon as possible and foreign credential evaluations by evaluation professionals provide timely, accurate and unbiased evaluations that help move the process forward.

What are the different types of evaluations – and which is best for my situation?

General Analysis evaluations are most often requested for employment purposes, but you might be asked to submit this type of evaluation to a college or university to confirm that you earned a specific degree, like a high school diploma. This might even be requested by colleges and universities prior to enrollment, even if they didn’t request a foreign credential evaluation as part of the admissions process.

The most common type of evaluation for the admissions process is a Course Analysis or “course by course” evaluation. This type of evaluation includes a calculated Grade Point Average (GPA) for all courses taken (separated by level – secondary school, university, etc.), a summary of the number of credits taken, and equates them to the U.S. system. This type of evaluation provides the information needed to make an admissions decision. 

Some universities may ask you to submit a Divisional Course Analysis. Like the Course Analysis, the Divisional Course Analysis also indicates the level of each course. This may be particularly helpful for admission to programs that require applicants to demonstrate completion of specific higher level or divisional prerequisite courses.  Many graduate (masters and doctoral (PhD) programs will ask for a Divisional Course Analysis so they can determine which applicants are best prepared – and most competitive – for admission. Transfer applicants may be asked to submit a Divisional Course Analysis to assist in the transfer credit process and to assist with advising for degree completion.

A Nursing Course Analysis is a specialized evaluation for foreign-educated nurses who want to continue nursing education or apply for nursing licensure in the United States. It includes the same information as a Divisional Course Analysis, but also includes a breakdown of clinical experience.

Applicants to engineering programs may be asked to submit an evaluation that confirms their previous studies met ABET program requirements. The Engineering Course Analysis is the evaluation they need. This type of evaluation may also be requested by state engineering licensure boards.

Regardless of the type of credential evaluation you need to submit, the evaluation will include a description of the degrees earned and their equivalencies in the U.S. system. All foreign credential evaluations are sent securely to the recipient and SpanTran evaluations include copies of the original documents submitted and any translations requested for the evaluation. 

The college or university where you apply will likely tell you exactly what type of evaluation is needed. Be sure to request that type of evaluation. The admissions process is stressful enough without needing to request a new evaluation! Regardless of the type of credential evaluation needed, be sure you are choosing a credential evaluation service that will be completed by a knowledgeable and professional agency like SpanTran!