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Credential and Professional Work Experience Evaluations

Do you have a degree or certificate from your home country? What about professional work experience earned before coming to the U.S.? If so, you may be able to use your credential or work experience in the United States for work or schooling.

If you have a degree or certificate, a credential evaluation can be completed In a credential evaluation, a third party assesses your academic or skill-related credentials earned outside the U.S. and compares them to those earned in the U.S. If you have professional work experience, that experience can be evaluated in combination with your academic experience to see whether they meet the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. The type of evaluation needed depends on your plans and goals.

Three Common Types of Evaluations

Course-by-Course Credential Evaluation

This type of evaluation is needed for college admissions and may also be used for professional licensing and certification. This evaluation will include a description of your courses, credit hours, grades, degrees, and overall academic performance in terms of the U.S. educational system.

Educational Credential Evaluation

This is a document-by-document evaluation used in employment and immigration matters. It is also used for university admission when transfer credit is not expected. This option lists the previous institutions you’ve attended and the credentials you’ve earned including their U.S equivalent degree.

Professional Work Experience Evaluation

A professional work experience evaluation assesses your work and academic history in order to determine if it meets the bachelor’s degree equivalency. This type of evaluation is mainly for immigration purposes, most commonly for individuals applying for a H-1B visa.

Considerations Before Having a Degree Evaluated

Is credential evaluation necessary?

The value of a professional credential is highly job- and field-specific. In some fields, a credential is a basic requirement. In others, it is a “nice to have” that is not necessary for advancement. It is important to ask questions and understand which credentials are truly required in an individual’s field.

Who should I talk to before pursuing an evaluation?

You’ll want to talk to one of the following based on your plans and what you want to pursue:

  • Higher Education
    Schools have different requirements for credential evaluation. Start by talking with the school you want to attend. The school’s admissions office or international students’ office should be able to offer more information about their requirements.
  • Work
    It may not be necessary to obtain a credential evaluation. Talk to employers and people in your industry to learn more about their requirements. Make sure your resumé clearly states whether you have a credential evaluation.
  • Professional Licensing
    License requirements vary from state to state. Before you have your degree or certificate reviewed for a professional license, confirm the requirements of the professional board in your state.

Where can I find a reputable credential evaluation service?

There are unreliable and fraudulent services that advertise widely on the web. It is important to research credential evaluation companies to ensure they are reputable and ethical. One useful indicator is whether the company is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. For example, the University of Southern Maine only accepts evaluations that are completed by an agency that is a current member of NACES.

The New Mainers Resource Center at Portland Adult Education provides support to immigrants seeking to have credential translation and evaluation. For more information, contact:

New Mainers Resource Center
14 Locust Street
Portland, ME 04101
Tel: 207-874-8155
Fax: 207-773-0151

Is there assistance to help pay for credentialing expenses?

The Foreign Credentialing and Skills Recognition Revolving Loan Program (Foreign Credentialing Loan) provides small loans to qualified immigrants living in Maine who are not yet eligible to work in the United States. Loans for up to $700 are available to help cover costs associated with translating credentials and other expenses involved in becoming eligible to work in Maine.