Understanding First Professional Degrees: A Guide for International Students and Workers

Posted on Feb 23, 2024 by SpanTran

Are you an international student or professional looking to study or work in the United States? Navigating the educational systems of different countries can be confusing, especially when it comes to understanding the equivalency of your foreign credentials in the U.S. Luckily, SpanTran is here to help! As a trusted member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES), SpanTran specializes in evaluating international transcripts to provide accurate assessments for individuals like you.

One key concept you may encounter during your evaluation journey is the notion of a "first professional degree." But what exactly does this mean, and how does it differ from educational systems abroad?

In the United States, a first professional degree refers to a specialized degree that is required for entry into a specific profession such as medicine, dentistry, law, pharmacy and architecture. The program of study requires rigorous academic and practical training to prepare the individual for professional practice in their chosen field.

Nearly all first professional degree programs in the U.S. require a bachelor's degree for admission and, as such, are at a graduate level of education.  Students who hold a first professional degree that was completed after a bachelor’s degree program can be considered for admission to doctoral (PhD) programs.  This is very different from educational systems where first professional degree programs begin after completion of secondary school.  First professional degrees from this type of program are considered to be at the undergraduate level and are usually not considered for admission to doctoral level programs.

For international students and professionals, this can lead to confusion when seeking recognition of their qualifications. SpanTran's evaluation services play a crucial role in providing clarity and equivalence in such cases. Our experienced evaluators carefully assess your academic credentials and provide detailed reports that clearly articulate the U.S. equivalency of your foreign academic qualifications.

The concept of a first professional degree in the U.S. educational system can be difficult to understand  for many people seeking employment, licensure or admission to a college or university in the U.S. . With the combined 50+ years of experience of our senior evaluators, you can be sure that a SpanTran evaluation is complete and accurate - opening doors to exciting opportunities in the United States.