“I did not get my degree in the US. How do I know if my coursework fit the educational requirements?”
For the CPA exam, a bachelor degree in a 4-year accredited educational institution is the minimum requirement to sit for the exam.
For international students, this can be tricky as they cannot be sure whether the degree from their local countries are qualified. Solution: foreign credential evaluation agencies that specialize in evaluating your transcripts on behalf of the state boards.
Please note: Illinois and Texas state boards evaluate the transcript (domestic and foreign) themselves and candidates from these two states do not need to go through these third-party evaluation agencies.
How To Select The Foreign Credential Evaluation Agencies
Before you contact an evaluation agency, you need to select the state in which to register for your exam. There are two reasons:
- Each state has its own list of approved evaluation agencies — you don’t want to pay for a report that is not recognized by the board.
- Each state board has slightly different qualifying rules for the CPA exam. Therefore, the agency needs to know which rules to apply to when they evaluate your transcripts.
Once you settle on a state and get the list of approved agencies, you can pick an agency based on:
- Evaluation fee
- Turnaround time
1. Evaluation Fee
The fee ranges from $100 to $300 — the price difference is generally correlated to turnaround time. For example, FACS is one of the most affordable agency charging $100 for most states, but the turnaround
time is 4-8 weeks with no rush service.
Please note that state boards generally require a “course-by-course” evaluation, which is different from the “general evaluation” that some agencies are offering. You need to read the fee schedule carefully when you compare the fees between the agencies.
They may also have rush services available but expect to add at least $100 to the price tag. With proper planning, you can usually avoid to pay this extra cost.
2. Turnaround Time
The number of days required to produce a report also varies considerably. Most agencies have a 2 week turnaround time, but it can vary from 5 business days to 8+ weeks.
The evaluation process is both an art and a science. It is possible that some evaluators will give you slightly more credit hours than the others.
Having said that, the evaluation result should not be substantially different as evaluators run the risk of getting disqualified by the state boards. Because of this, I personally do not recommend an agency based on how “lenient” it interprets your transcripts.
I do recommend agencies that have better customer service, because a friendly evaluator makes your life much easier during the exam application process. I ran a little experience and you can take a look at my findings at the end of this post.
Tips On The Evaluation Process
1. Submitting The Documents
Most evaluation agencies require the candidates to send in the original or official transcript . By original, it refers to the copy issued by your school that is sent to you in a sealed envelope; by official, it means a copy (either the original or certified copy) sent directly from your school to the agency.
In most cases, this requirement is set by the state board. For example, California state board asks the evaluators to issue report only if the candidate supplies the original copy.
I understand that in some countries it is impossible to have the school sent an extra copy for this purpose. In this case, customer service is very important because a good evaluator can suggest a way to work around this issue instead of insisting on getting what is officially required.
Special note: if your current name is different from the name on the transcript (e.g. maiden name), then you need supporting document to show the reason of name change, e.g. a marriage certificate.
2. Translation of Documents
If your transcript is issued in a language other than English, a word-for-word translation is required.
You can explore whether there is an in-house translation service at the evaluation agency. If not, you can either get it translated by an official/governmental agency (as in China), or you can contact a translation service that is a member of American Translators Association (ATA). I can recommend one if you send an email to email@example.com.
3. Turnaround Time
I list out the estimated turnaround time for each evaluation agency listed below (please click on the links for details). Please note that the time counts only when you have submitted all the required documents.
For rush service, it is counted in business days. For example, a 2-day rush service is 2 business days.
4. Tracking The Progress
Some evaluation agencies have a convenient online tracking system, while others may have an email notification service whenever your application is moved to the next stage. A few have no updates and you have to call them to check. You may take this into consideration if it is important for you keep track of the progress.
List of Evaluation Agencies
I mentioned about a little experiment I ran on the evaluation agencies. This is what I did: I sent out the same email message to all evaluators and asked them 2 questions on behalf of the candidates. I recorded the time as well as the detailness/usefulness of the reply.
- For the full list of evaluation agencies, please click here.
Prompt and Personal Reply
Evaluators accepting attested / certified photocopies of transcripts:
- Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI)
- Education Evaluators International (EEI)
- Educational Perspectives
- Education Records Evaluation Service (ERES)
- Foundation for International Services (FIS)
- EDUCES (Global Education Credential Evaluation Service)
- SpanTran Evaluation Services
Evaluators accepting original and/or official transcripts only:
- A2Z Evaluations
- Academic & Credential Records Evaluation & Verification Service (ACREVS)
- American Education Research Corporation (AERC)
- Academic Records Evaluation Center (AREC)
- Center for Educational Documentation (CED)
- Global Education Group (GEG)
- International Education Research Foundation (IERF)
- Center for Applied Research, Evaluation and Education (IESCAREE)
- Josef Silny & Associates (JS&A)
- NASBA International Evaluation Services (NIES)
Prompt but Generic Reply
- Academic Evaluation Services (AES)
- Academic and Professional International Evaluation (APIE)
- Foreign Academic Credential Service (FACS)
- Foreign Credentials Service of America (FCSA)
- World Education Services (WES)
Slow Reply / Hard To Reach
Either no reply after follow-up email, or email address not available
- Foreign Credential Evaluator
- Foreign Educational Document Service
- Foreign Transcript Evaluation Service
No Longer Offer Service For CPA Exam / Licensing Application
- Education International
- Evaluation Service Inc (ESI)
- International Academic Credentials Evaluation (IACEI)
Please note that this list is based on my own experiment only, and I need more data points to improve my analysis.
If you have personal experience in any of these evaluation agencies, please drop me a note below in the comment section. Here are the questions I have in mind:
- Which agency did you pick?
- Why did you pick his particular agency?
- How long is the turnaround time?
- What do you think about the quality of their service?
Note: effective 2013 comments not related to evaluation service will be deleted in the comment section below. If you have general questions on the CPA exam, please drop a note in our forum: