Foreign Credential Evaluation


The University at Albany’s International Education Leadership Expert Series presents a module with Dr. George F. Kacenga that focuses on foreign credential evaluation in the strategic international enrollment management context.


Offered Periodically


Registration Fee: $399

About the module

The course focuses on foreign credential evaluation in the strategic international enrollment management context. During the course we will examine the history of foreign credential evaluation in the United States, and the evolution of the skillset into a profession. We will study the systematic approach to foreign credential evaluation and its application in various academic settings. We will also practice the practical application of these skills in international education scenarios and explore the impact of timely, accurate, and consistent credential evaluation.

Some of the decisions international education leaders, and credential evaluators face relate to: understanding the native educative system as well as the system under review, how to research and analyze foreign education systems, discerning the characteristics of the foremost global educational systems, recognizing patterns and variances across time periods, assessing transnational and hybrid programs, assigning transfer credit, and formulating credential assessments. In addition to understanding foreign credential evaluation, the course will examine the many ethical issues faced by credential evaluators and leaders in international education.

Successful participants will receive a digital micro-credential acknowledging their completion of this professional development expert module from the International Education Management & Leadership Program at the University at Albany (SUNY).

Who Should Attend?

Upper-level international administrators tasked with working with other internal university stakeholders (such as provost, deans, department chairs, administrators of other departments such as student affairs and admissions)

Who Should Attend?

Senior international officers

Who Should Attend?

Leaders of different component offices (study abroad, international student and scholar services, international admissions, international research, international alumni relations and development) who report to the SIO

Who Should Attend?

Middle managers within international offices

Who Should Attend?

Early-career international educators

Who Should Attend?

International office spokespeople or employees tasked with communicating to outside constituencies, including the media, elected officials, and the general public

Who Should Attend?

Academics with international-education expertise who seek to more effectively discuss their research with practitioners and the public

Expert Series Presenter

George F. Kacenga, Ph.D.

George F. Kacenga, PhD, has been a champion for the value of international higher education for over twenty-years. He is currently the AVP of University Partnerships with M Square Media. Kacenga has served as a Senior International Officer (SIO) working with intensive English programs, international recruitment, immigration, education abroad, and global partnerships throughout a career that includes positions with public, private, and highly ranked academic institutions. Also a Fulbright Administrator Award recipient, Kacenga holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education. His expertise and reputation have been further honed through engagement as a community member, including professional roles and participation in AIRC (Past-President), NAFSA, TAICEP, NACAC, AACRAO, AIEA, and FEA.

Required Readings

  • Fletcher, A., & Aldrich-Langen, C. (1998). The Milwaukee Symposium: Refining the methodology for comparing US and foreign educational credentials. Washington, D.C.: NAFSA: Association of International Educators. (PDF to be provided)
  • Frey, J. S. (2014). Evaluating foreign educational credentials in the United States: perspectives on the history of the profession. Milwaukee, WI: Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (PDF)
  • Tse, E. (2012). Approaches to international degree recognition: A comparative study. Culver City, CA: International Education Research Foundation, Inc. (PDF)

Recommended Readings

  • Kacenga, George (2017) Globalization of Foreign Academic Credential Placement Recommendations for Graduate Study in the United States, 1932-2015. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (PDF)
  • Kacenga, George (2017) Understanding the Globalization of Foreign Academic Credential Placement Recommendations for Graduate Study in the United States, 1932-2015. International Education Research Foundation (IERF). (PDF)
  • NCAA. (2018). International standards 2018-19 – Guide to international academic standards for athletics eligibility. NCAA Publications. (PDF)
  • Transcript Research. (n.d.). Glossary of foreign transcript evaluations. (PDF)
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, & UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2011). International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 2011. (PDF)
By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Articulate the history of applied comparative education in the United States (1900-Present)
    1. Understand changing student mobility trends
    2. Realize the complex economic impact of international student enrollment
    3. Defend the notion of a ‘profession’ and the status of credential evaluators
  2. Identify the elements of the systematic approach to foreign credential evaluations
    1. Explain the policies and procedures that govern foreign credential evaluation
    2. Create or recognize an informative credential evaluation
    3. Appreciate the value of archiving research, equivalencies, and equivalency determinations
  3. Recognize foremost global education systems and make informed recommendations regarding the evaluation of foreign academic credentials
    1. Explain the differences among the world’s major educational systems and how that impacts international recruitment and credential evaluation
    2. Research country-specific information about foreign educational systems
  4. Discuss the ethical considerations that govern foreign credential evaluation
    1. Discuss the importance of consistency in foreign credential evaluation for academic integrity and institutional reputation
    2. Explain the role of accreditation in quality assurance and fair treatment of applicants
    3. Articulate the role played by third-party credential evaluators
    4. Explain the role of enrollment pressures and exception requests on the fair treatment of international applicants

Attending the live sessions is mandatory. Live sessions are recorded and archived. In the unlikely event that a session is missed, participants must view the archived session recording and write a three page reflection paper.

Before Session 1:

  • Read The Milwaukee Symposium: Refining the methodology for comparing US and foreign educational credentials.
  • Email the instructor a brief statement describing your motivation and goals for taking this course and what level of experience or oversight you have, or have had, in your career over foreign credential evaluation. Indicate whether or not you currently supervise or have influence over these processes and to what extent.

Session 1: The need for applied comparative education has existed within US higher Education from its inception, but the responsibility for these processes, the development of standards, and the implications of its practical application have become more prominent over the past century. We will examine the history of foreign credential evaluation in the United States, its evolution as the volume of international students enrolled in US institutions increased, the economic impact, and the competing philosophies that govern its practice. We will explore the presence of foreign credential evaluation in prominent professional organizations, and the emergence of the skill as its own profession.

Before Session 2:

  • Read Evaluating foreign educational credentials in the United States: perspectives on the history of the profession (Frey).
  • Be prepared to present a reaction to the section dedicated to the ‘U.S. Office of Education’. Explore any of the following: (1) What role did the US Government originally play in foreign credential evaluation? (2) What led to those roles and responsibilities changing, and (3) how or why did higher education institutions need to react? (4) What role should the US Government have in foreign credential evaluation as it relates to the creation of a national strategy on the recruitment of international students?

Session 2: Evaluating the challenges faced by admissions recruiters and international enrollment management (IEM) professionals today begins with understanding the foundations of the profession. We will examine the development and implementation of a systematic approach to foreign credential evaluation. We will focus on the root causes that led to the policies and procedures that govern best practice, and the elements of an informative assessment. We will also study why archiving research and equivalency determinations are essential practices.

Before Session 3:

  • Become familiar with the ‘Education Ladders’ provided in the resource folder.

Session 3: The systems of education throughout the world contain unique qualities and characteristics that are as distinctive as each country’s culture. However, the globalization and colonization of the past 200-years led to social/cultural hegemony in education that distributed the pedagogical frameworks of powerful and privileged nations. Together, we will examine the foremost educational systems and the commonly accepted grading and degree equivalencies. We will explore the differences among these systems and the structural differences can impact international student recruitment and credential evaluation. We will also practice how to thoroughly research country-specific information about all education systems.

Mid-course assignment: Due on or before July 12, 2021.

  • Each student will submit a written reflection (no more than 500 words) on pages 1-20 of Approaches to international degree recognition: A comparative study.
  • Please describe your initial reaction to the concepts, key takeaways that may apply to any current or future work with foreign credential evaluation as well as any concerns, questions or criticisms related to the reading.

Session 4: We will focus on the process of evaluating academic credit across different education systems, including credit-based, hours-based, and outcomes-based conversion methodologies. Upon examination of these different approaches, we will explore the meaning of a ‘credit’ in the US system, as well as accreditation. We will further examine the ethical considerations that result from different approaches to credit conversion and foreign credential evaluation, including the enrollment related processes, exception requests, scholarship qualifications, and access to prestigious awards and appointments.

Before Session 5:

  • Students/teams will complete a foreign credential evaluation for a country and academic level approved or provided by the instructor. The analysis will include the production of an education ladder, verification of the awarding academic institution, grading scale equivalencies, and a placement recommendation.

Session 5: Participant/groups will present their foreign credential evaluation(s), along with recommendations for the considerations that should be taken by leaders in international education regarding the necessary staffing and resources for an effective operation. We will discuss challenges and approaches to pursuing these strategies in an academic setting.

Final Assignment: Students will select countries from each leading educational framework with instructor approval, and will produce an education ladder, verify recognition of the awarding institution, create grading scale equivalencies, and make a placement recommendation.

Expert Series Design structure

Participants will receive 7.5 hours of synchronous sessions with the instructor and 6-7.5 hours of asynchronous sessions. The synchronous sessions will include the following 5 meetings of 90 minutes each, via Zoom (UAlbany).

Synchronous Sessions:

  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD

Instructions for connecting to synchronous sessions and accessing the online material will be provided after registration.

Registration Fee: $399

15% Discount on registration for SUNY employees.

Reach Us

1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY, 12222

+01 (518) 442-5080

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