There is no single policy or authority that regulates foreign diploma validation. Instead, the entity requiring the validation determines an acceptable validation practice and authority. Many employers and education institutions in the United States recognize foreign diploma validation when completed by a trusted, independent credential validation or evaluation service, according to the U.S. Department of Education, or DOE. Job applicants often need the validation of a college degree or of the credentials required for professional licensing in regulated jobs.
Choose a Validation Service
If your employer does not perform credential validation on its own, or provide the name of a service you should use, choose an accredited validation service. The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services and the Association of International Credentials Evaluators provide credential validation services that meet their standards for membership. Both accreditation organizations provide membership lists on their websites. Some credential validation services specialize in specific professions. For instance, individuals holding foreign medical degrees should contact the American Medical Association or the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. Credential validation services charge fees that are usually paid by the job seeker. Fees vary based on the documents available for analyses and the type of evaluation requested.
Arrange to have your foreign diploma or credentials translated into English, if necessary. The documents must be translated before the validation process can begin. Many credential validation services offer translation services, for which they charge an additional fee based on the original document language. You can also hire a translation service and ask the translator to notarize the translated documents, as recommended by the DOE.
Ask the potential employer or licensing board about the type of evaluation or validation needed. Credential validation services offer more than one level of evaluation. For instance, a low-level general validation provides only a recommendation about educational equivalency. This validation service examines foreign courses and degrees to determine if the foreign work can be recommended as equivalent to similar U.S. coursework. The next level might be a general validation that includes an estimate of grade point average based on U.S. standards. A full validation results in a detailed equivalency recommendation that includes conversion of all coursework and grades to the format used by the U.S. educational system.
Credential validation services require completion of an application form and submission of the foreign diploma or other credentials. Often, a certification document from the foreign education institution is required. Visit the service’s website to download forms and instructions or to complete the forms online. The credential validation service compares the foreign coursework to equivalent coursework in the United States, and lists comparable courses, credits and grades based on its analyses and comparison. The service also determines if foreign coursework meets U.S. standards for undergraduate or graduate study.
Recommendations and Appeals
The validation service certifies your credentials and provides a report that recommends the highest education level or academic degree the credentials represent according to U.S. education system standards. Make sure the recommendation is provided directly to the employer, if required. Sometimes, the degree holder or the employer disputes some aspect of the recommendation, such as refusal to accept the foreign education institution's accreditation or to recognize coursework as graduate level. If you disagree with the recommendation of the credential validation service, ask the service about its appeal process. Also, contact the employer or licensing board to ask about an appeal process.
- U.S. Department of Education: Recognition of Foreign Qualifications
- U.S. Department of Education: Recognition of Foreign Qualifications: Information for Individuals Seeking to Work in the United States
- American Medical Association: ECFMG Certification Information
- SDR Educational Consultants: Translation
- SDR Educational Consultants: Evaluation
- Educational Records Evaluation Service: Evaluation Service
Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.