Recognition of Foreign Qualifications

In the United States, the competent authorities for recognizing previous education and qualifications are the following:

  • Employers (for those seeking employment)
  • State-Level Licensing Agencies (for those needing professional licensure)
  • Universities and Other Education Institutions (for those planning to study)

In some instances, the entities mentioned above will evaluate foreign credentials themselves. However, in most instances, they will request that you obtain a credential evaluation to determine how your credentials compare with U.S. credentials. Such evaluations are carried out by private, non-governmental entities for a fee.

Note: The U.S. Department of Education does not evaluate foreign qualifications or degrees. Please do not submit evaluation requests or related documentation to the Department.

To Study

When seeking admission to an educational institution, the competent authority for recognizing previous education and qualifications is the U.S. school or higher education institution in which you seek to enroll. Contact the admissions office for instructions. Many institutions and schools evaluate credentials themselves, but some will refer you to a credential evaluation service.

To Work

When seeking employment, the competent authority for recognizing previous education and qualifications is the employer. For instructions regarding credential evaluation, contact the human resources office of the prospective employer. Most employers will refer you to a credential evaluation service, and some will recommend or require that you use a specific credential evaluation service. If no service is recommended, then you can select a credential evaluation service yourself. (The U.S. Department of Education does not recommend any individual credential service.)

To Practice a Licensed Profession

Regulated professions in the United States are licensed at the state level, and the competent authority for recognizing previous education and qualifications is the appropriate state licensing authority in the jurisdiction where you intend to work. In some states, licensing boards have specific procedures for evaluating and recognizing foreign qualifications.

Depending on the state licensing board and the profession, the evaluation of foreign credentials will be done by the board, by a general credential evaluation service or by a specialized credential evaluation service that focuses on a specific profession. The authoritative source of information regarding how one’s credential should be evaluated is the relevant state-level licensing board.

For additional information about licensed professions, including links to state licensing boards and professional associations, see Professional Licensure.

Important Notes Regarding Credential Evaluation

There is no federal or state regulation of credential evaluation services. The U.S. Department of Education does not endorse or recommend any individual credential evaluation service.

Credential evaluations are not free. The cost will vary according to the complexity of the case and the amount of documentation you can provide.

Obtain English translations of any non-English documents, preferably notarized, prior to submitting any documents to a credential evaluation service. For details regarding requirements, consult with the entity that will evaluate your credentials.

Credential evaluations are done on an individual, case-by-case basis and take into consideration various factors.  You can expect that different institutions and credential evaluation services might evaluate your credentials differently, according to their criteria.

Credential evaluation services provide procedures to appeal their recommendations. If necessary, make use of the procedure provided by the credential evaluation service and the institution to which you are seeking admission. (The U.S. federal government has no role in credential evaluation appeals.)