As an international student wishing to study or work in the United States or Canada, you know how important it is to partner with the best organizations that will enable you to make your academic and professional dreams come true. World Education Services, or WES, is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping international students, as well as immigrants and refugees, to study and work in North America.

WES was founded in 1974 and has grown into a multi-country enterprise that evaluates roughly 500,000 academic credentials each year. It has helped countless people thrive and put their education and skills to work globally. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of WES and see what they have to say about online degrees.

What Is WES?

World Education Services (WES) offers credential evaluations for international students who wish to study or work in the U.S. or Canada. Their mission states: “we help society recognize the value of people’s education and experience.”

This is an important task. Globally, there are many different styles of academic credentials. In the U.S., we are used to two- and four-year undergraduate degrees as well as master’s and doctoral programs. However, in some parts of the world, these designations are not used, or coursework adheres to different standards.

The challenge for students coming to the U.S., then, comes in comparing their education, gained in another country, to the educational system in use in the U.S. How does a degree earned in Ghana, for example, compare to one earned in America? Is an equivalent amount of information gained by the student? How does their grading system correlate to the U.S.’s grade point average?

In order for an American or Canadian school or business to understand the skills and talents of international applicants, an organization such as WES is required to compare and evaluate the student’s education and place it in perspective so that the student is placed correctly in an American or Canadian school, or, in some cases, at a job in which they will succeed.

How Does WES Handle Online Credentials?

WES partners with 48,000 Global Higher Education Institutions (GHEIs) in more than 200 countries and territories, giving the organization a deep knowledge of international schooling norms. Their first-hand knowledge of global education, combined with a state-of-the-art database, allows them to assess and evaluate degrees and certifications no matter where they were earned.

Does WES evaluate online degrees? Yes, they do. The method by which the degree was earned is less important than whether or not the school is one of WES’s respected global partners. WES will also work with international students who earned an online degree at an accredited American institution.

An essential factor to note is that the student’s degree should come from an accredited school. Accredited schools undergo thorough review periodically by an accreditation organization approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. If you are an international student planning to earn an online degree with a U.S.-based school, it is important to ask an admissions counselor if the school is properly accredited on a regular basis.

How Does the Evaluation Process Work?

The WES website features tools that can help you through the evaluation process. A degree equivalency tool, for example, is free to use and allows you to obtain an initial evaluation of what your degree might be worth in the U.S. You can calculate your U.S. grade point average on a 4.0 scale in minutes with the iGPA Calculator. These tools give you a preview of what the official WES review will show.

When you are ready to begin the process, you first choose the primary purpose of your evaluation: whether it’s for education, professional license or certification, employment, or immigration purposes. This will take you to a page on the website where you can choose the package you wish to purchase. A common choice is a basic course-by-course evaluation, which will provide you with the following:

  • The name of the credential
  • The requirements for entry
  • The program length
  • The equivalency in terms of U.S. education
  • A list of all courses completed at the post-secondary level
  • A U.S. semester credit and grade equivalent for each course
  • A U.S. grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale
  • A designation of the level (upper or lower) of each undergraduate course

A document-by-document evaluation is also used for first-year admissions, employment applications, or submission to immigration authorities.

Required documents

The list of documents required by WES for evaluation varies based on whether the applicant intends to travel to the U.S. or Canada, and on the country or territory where the degree was earned. In general, expect to be asked to submit the following documents:

  • An academic transcript: this should show all classes you’ve taken to date and the grades or marks you earned in them. If possible, WES asks that the documents be submitted electronically. If that’s not an option, the school should send them directly to WES.
  • Degree certificates: this should be a copy of your diploma, not an original. WES destroys all submitted documents after their evaluation and asks that you only submit photocopies or electronic copies of these important papers.

Additional requirements may exist depending on the institution you attended, the country it is in, and where you hope to move to. The WES website will prompt you and has clear directions on how and when you should submit all materials.


WES offers two types of evaluation: course-by-course and document-by-document. Course-by-course evaluations are used for transfer and graduate admissions, licensing, and certification boards. Document-by-document evaluation is used for first-year admissions, employment applications, and submission to immigration authorities. Each of these two types is further divided into either a basic evaluation or an International Credential Advantage Package (ICAP), which includes storage for verified transcripts and a WES digital badge that can be displayed on LinkedIn or other social media sites.

Fees range from a low of $107 for basic document-by-document evaluation to a high of $217 for ICAP course-by-course evaluation. There are also additional delivery fees, and fees for updating a completed evaluation report, upgrading to ICAP, or ordering duplicate reports. These fees range from $11 for standard delivery of the evaluation to $84 to update a completed evaluation report.

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.