Applying foreign credits for education in the USA

Every country has its own rules about certificates and degrees. You may not be able to use yours in the USA. A good option is to have your foreign credits evaluated.

“They are not going to accept your degree,” a friend told me after I arrived in the US. I exclaimed, “Why? I worked hard for my degree! I have completed four years of college before coming to the United States, and I planned to use my degree to get a good job.” I thought that my degree would have value, but my friend did not think so!

My friend told me to go and get my GED. I did not know what a GED was, but I went and took the practice test. After I took the practice test, the teacher called me and said, “What is your story? You scored at a college level on the practice exam.” I told her my story, and she suggested that I go to the local community college. I did not know what a community college was, but I went to learn more.

I was told that I could take classes there, but I will have to pay for those classes, and my degree was not recognized.

It took me a few years to realize that my degree holds value and my foreign credits can be evaluated.

Fast forward to 2014 when I applied for a master’s program. I got accepted using my four-year college degree from Iraq. I have three brothers and a sister. We all used our foreign credits to get an advanced degree and here are some tips to share from our experiences.

Research: When my sister applied for her master’s, she asked the university about her degree acceptance first. Universities are unique. Each university has a policy regarding foreign credits and what credential evaluation organization they recognize.

Credential Evaluation Organizations: Once my sister knew which evaluating organization has accepted the university she wants to enroll in, she contacted the organization to start her degree evaluation. It is always good to allow time before the college year begins. Getting an official certificate from Iraq took her a few months. She was lucky that an uncle agreed to help her get the paperwork. He had it mailed from the university to the evaluating organization in time.

Licensing: My brother is a licensed doctor in the US. He took the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to be able to practice in the US. Their website has detailed instructions on how to apply using foreign credits from a medical school outside the US and Canada. It is also good to mention that each licensing agency has its requirement. It’s always good to inquire with the agency first.  

Employment: My brother, the doctor, worked in an entry-level job at a local hospital while working on his licensing. He wanted to work in his field of interest and make a professional connection. He was also able to see the American worksites. The same thing applies to other jobs too. Companies are more likely to hire someone in a higher paying job if they already know his/her skill level.   

The process is not easy, but possible. People work hard for their degrees, and their experience is valuable. Do the necessary research. Set the steps required to achieve the desired goals. Colleges can be accommodating and want to have diverse students. Also, the unemployment rate is low, and companies are being very creative in attracting talents.

Companies thrive on global talents, like yours! So do not give up your dreams.

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