Evaluating International Professional Degrees

April 2, 2019
  • Credential Evaluation
  • International Admissions
  • International Admissions and Credential Evaluation
  • International Education
doctor in white lab coat with a stethoscope around their neck points at a tablet Considering and evaluating international professional degrees present interesting challenges to admissions officers, particularly at the graduate level. While evaluating any international credential is an art and not a science, the nature of professional degrees from international education systems are particularly unique. Professional degrees include the regulated professions, such as Law, Medicine, Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, and several others. Unlike the United States system, these degrees are often entered immediately after secondary school.

Ann Koenig, AACRAO International, and Meg Wenger, Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., began the presentation with a list of Best Practices in Credential Evaluation, and shared an Evaluation Methodology worksheet and encouraged the audience to take it home and use it in their evaluation review.

Comparing degrees
In comparing Professional degrees vs academic degrees the presenters pointed out that professional degrees prepare for licensure and work in a regulated profession, whereas academic degrees are not tied to the practice of a particular profession. Often the admission requirements of professional degrees are different than for academic degrees and the program includes a practical training component and preparation for the licensing examination. Many professional degrees have a common program content regardless of the location of origin. For instance, a professional program in Physical Therapy includes coursework in introduction to the profession including the history, philosophy, and ethics of the profession as well as courses in Kinesiology and Anatomy. 

As a point of comparison, the experts shared resources for information on Professional degrees in the United States, including publications and websites and accrediting bodies and professional associations, as well as resources that should be used for when researching foreign professional degrees. Understand the education structure and recognition resources, as well as the laws and regulations regarding the profession and the academic requirements. 

Case studies

The presenters followed up the content with case studies including: a Law degree from Sudan, a Graduate Diploma in Law from the UK, Physical Therapy degrees from Egypt, a Medical degree from Ireland, and a Pharmacy degree from the United Kingdom. There was good discussion and a realization that this is a complicated topic and future sessions would be much appreciated by the attendees.


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