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A Guide to Selecting a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Service

March 22, 2017

This guide asks important questions that should be answered when pursuing the services of a credentials evaluation provider.

Institutional Responsibility
Colleges and universities that admit learners with educational backgrounds from outside of the United States need to have trained admissions employees and adequate assets to evaluate foreign educational credentials accurately. While credential evaluation is normally done in-house, it is also outsourced, entirely, or an "as needed" basis.

When searching for and selecting an outside credential evaluation service provider it is important to have your institutional needs clearly defined and to seek service providers whose features match those needs. This document offers suggestions for service provider selection.

General Guidelines
In general, translation services only translate documents from one language to another without applying interpretative judgment, while credential evaluation providers apply informed judgments to the interpretation of credentials and perseverance of the equivalency of educational programs, degrees awarded, and/or grades achieved to global and/or US standards.

Choosing a foreign educational credential evaluation support is similar to choosing other professional service providers. Criteria for choosing a service provider begin with whether the provider can meet the specific needs of your institution.

Further selection criteria typically include an amount of general factors such as level of preparedness, performance and price. Intangible factors likewise incorporate their flexibility, and the convenience with which that can be done business with them.

Research Options
There currently is not any single, comprehensive source of just about all foreign credential evaluation service providers.
Seek out providers on the internet. Using lookup strings such as "foreign credential evaluation services" or "educational credential evaluators" will yield several firms and associations. Contact Best Foreign Transcript Evaluation Service and Foreign High School Transcript Evaluation.

You may be able to determine from info on their web sites what areas of expertise and knowledge a credential evaluator has and whether there might be a match with your institution's needs.
Talk to colleagues at establishments you feel would have similar institutional needs, or who have experience in working with evaluation services. Ask for recommendations.

Ask service providers for a list of customers whom you can contact. Talk to several, particularly establishments whose needs you feel might be similar to your own institution's needs.
Compare the responses and details received from each of the credential evaluation providers contacted to the needs of your institution. If anything is unclear or more information is needed, contact the service provider(s) again.
If you need an outside opinion, engage an unbiased international admission consultant or an experienced colleague to assist in the process.

Questions to Ask Providers

What kinds of evaluation providers does the provider offer?
For what purposes do they evaluate, e.g., secondary, college/university, English as a Second Language, professional licensure, and/or immigration? Do they specialize? Does the organization provide printed information about the scope of its providers, procedures used for requesting an evaluation, and evaluation policies?

How does the provider's evaluation employees get trained and stay current?
Training may include, but need not be limited to, in-house training, participation in professional conferences, participation in training and workshops programs offered by professional organizations, research on country educational systems, etc. What opportunities does the employees have for professional growth? Are evaluators knowledgeable about the credentials which the institution needs evaluated?

What reference materials and resources are available to support evaluation?
Does a library be had by the organization of standard references in international education with an emphasis on credentials evaluation? Does the library contain reference material on the countries/credentials that your institution commonly needs evaluated? How current are the assets in the library? How is the library created and maintained? How frequently are references updated? Does the organization conduct primary analysis? How and how usually?

How long will it take to get credentials evaluated?
What is the standard turn-around time required for a provider to complete an evaluation? Are there periods during the year when the processing time may be faster/slower than the standard? Does the turnaround time meet the needs of the institution?

What are the evaluation processing fees?
Are there different services/different levels of service available? How do the costs compare to the financial resources of the institution's applicants? How do the fees compare with those of other evaluation providers? How and by whom are costs to be paid? What are the terms of payment, e.g., upon receipt of invoice, 30 days, etc? If the institution needs information that is not usually part of an evaluation agency's standard evaluation record, how should the record be customized? Are there extra costs for customization?

What documents does a service provider require to complete an evaluation?
On what type of documentation is an evaluation based? Does the provider have a list of specific paperwork for specific countries/ranges of study, etc? What are the provider's plans regarding photocopies, authentic, or official credentials? How do the organization's documentation plans compare with the institution's plans on documentation required for domestic applicants

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