A degree evaluation is a formal assessment of a student's credentials. The assessment enables the student to determine his progress towards degree completion or the application of transfer credits to his degree requirements. Degree evaluation is also a specialty industry that evaluates foreign credentials for people who need to compare the basis of an existing degree against a similar degree in another country.
Colleges and universities allow students to take classes without declaring a major, change a major at any time during residency and transfer credits from other academic institutions to satisfy degree requirements. These allowances mean that every student's particular status and progress towards degree completion is unique. Although each student is required to know the specific requirements he needs to satisfy for a degree in a particular academic discipline, schools know that a student's academic record can be too complicated to easily assess without expert assistance.
All schools of higher education have a degree evaluation process that is part of academic advisement. In most schools, a student can initiate a degree evaluation check at any point where he makes a major change to his academic plans or plans to make a change in the future, such as switching majors. The academic advisor reviews the student's records and determines how the change will affect his progress towards a degree.
In some schools, a degree evaluation is required before a student can be certified to participate in graduation activities. The official assessment establishes that the student is near enough to completing all requirements for a certain academic disciple to qualify as a senior with a target graduation date. This avoids the problem of fourth-year students participating in graduation activities simply because of the length of their residency, rather than on the basis of imminent completion of a program.
In another context, a degree evaluation is used is with foreign credentials. For example, a person might have a medical degree granted from an institution in his home country. When he wants to settle in a different country and work in the medical field, his foreign credential must be analyzed to establish its equivalent value compared to local credentials. In another context, some immigration visas depend upon the person holding certain credentials, and his foreign credentials must be assessed to determine if they meet the criteria.
There are private companies that provide degree evaluation of foreign credentials for businesses, schools, governments and other institutions. These firms specialize in establishing a basis to compare degrees and other credentials across international borders. They also check the legitimacy of foreign credentials, making sure that the person actually holds the degree claimed.