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ICAE Demystifies the Complex Nature of Degree Accreditation

ICAE has recently joined NACES and AICE in being the only credential evaluation membership organizations with UNESCO approval. What sets ICAE apart is that evaluators also have a complex understanding of curriculum development that meets US regional and national accreditation requirements, setting the highest standard for credential evaluation in the industry.

Credential evaluation goes far beyond simply translating transcripts into English. When ICAE evaluators conclude that a foreign degree is the equivalent of a given US regionally or nationally accredited degree, it means that the degree has been thoroughly reviewed to certify that the requirements for the areas of study necessary to meet US accreditation requirements for that degree have been met.

ICAE works with boards of education as well as US institutions of higher education to develop and review curriculum to submit for accreditation In every degree curriculum, the following areas of study must be met for US accreditation: Natural Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Electives, and a Field of Specialization – the “major.” The sequence of classes taken, including prerequisites, lower level, and higher level classes, are also important to structure curriculum fit for accreditation in the US. Having completed a major factors into this as well. If a student completes the baseline 120 credits required for a US Bachelor’s degree, but has not completed a major, then the terms of graduation have not been met.

It is important to note that a Bachelors of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree are different in that a BA requires at least 3.0 credits of Language Arts or a Liberal Arts component, and a BS requires at least 5.0 credits of Natural Sciences.

When ICAE evaluators review credentials, whether or not the program meets US accreditation requirements for the degree equivalency are examined closely. ICAE members’ advanced understanding of curriculum accreditation requirements makes the organization the ideal resource for the highest standard of credential evaluation services, raising the standard of excellence for the industry. To learn more about ICAE, visit http://www.academicevaluation.org.

What is a Degree? – Find out Before You File!

RFEs are on the rise across the board for visa candidates. Education RFEs are particularly common for visas like H1B and EB2, which are contingent on the candidate’s advanced degree and skill specialization. Candidates who earned their degrees from outside of the United States run into trouble because educational systems vary across borders, and academic value does not always translate along with the language.

Before you file, make sure you know what education you’re working with. All you have to do is go to ccifree.com, let us know the visa and job, and attach the candidate’s educational documents and resume. Within 24 hours, we will send you a pre-evaluation and full analysis of all of your options. You will know what you’re working with, and be able to move forward accordingly.

It’s not uncommon for candidates to insist that their high school diploma is a college degree, or for a translated document to report a false academic equivalency.

This happens for two main reasons. First, many degrees don’t actually have the word “degree” in the title. When this is translated, it is unclear whether or not the candidate actually has earned the postsecondary education necessary to meet the academic qualifications for their visa. On the same note, some credentials that do have the word degree in the title are not the academic equivalent of US postsecondary education, and some credentials don’t have the word “degree” in the title and are not degrees, period. Some countries have the same titles for different education. For example, the Indian Chartered Accountancy certification is the equivalent of a US bachelor’s degree in accounting while the Canadian Chartered Accountancy certification is not.

The second reason this happens is because when documents are translated from their original language into English, some degree titles don’t actually have a direct linguistic translation into English. Others do, but the academic value is different. It’s easy for translators to accidentally insert misinformed judgment into the academic value of a degree through translation. It is always best for translators to simply perform a direct translation and then have the documents passed onto a credential evaluator for the next step.

Understanding the value of a foreign degree requires a complex, specialized understanding of international education. Understanding the structures of education and the educational steps required to earn each credential, as well as international trade agreements, graduate program admissions trends, CIS trends and precedents, and federal case law is required to write an accurate evaluation that CIS will understand and accept.

Before you file, make sure you, or your employee or client has the right education for the visa. If you’ve already received an RFE, it’s not too late! Simply go to ccifree.com and submit the educational documents and a current resume, and indicate the visa and job. We will get back to you within 24 hours with a pre-evaluation of your case and all of your options for evaluation.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.