I am an American citizen with a Bachelors degree from a 4 year American university, and thereafter got a Masters degree from an international Masters program at Leiden University, The Netherlands, a highly esteemed, accredited university in Europe. These programs are taught in English and are targeted specifically at international students: http://www.postgraduate.leidenuniv.nl/index.jsp . I received a Masters degree in English Literature, with the course consisting of classes on critical literary theory and a thesis, similar to many American Masters programs.
When applying for a community college teaching job recently, I was required to have my foreign degree evaluated for equivalency. I hired J.Silny & Associates for $130 for an evaluation report, plus $15 for an additional, official sealed report.
I was shocked when I received the evaluation, which stated that my degree was being evaluated as equivalent to a *bachelors* degree in "English as a Foreign Language". The first part, evaluating it as a bachelors degree, they based on a rather complicated debate about the "Bologna Process", which was an agreement among the members of the European Union to standardize their higher education, and adopt a bachelors-masters structure at *all European universities*. You can read more about this Bologna Degrees debate online, but the bottom line is that J. Silny & Associates will not recognize European degrees earned after 1994. So if you have a European degree earned after 1994, and you need equivalency, DO NOT hire J. Silny & Associates. There are other bureaus that will grant you equivalency, I have discovered, so do your homework and inquire about a bureau's position on the Bologna Process before you hire them!!! Save yourself the money and anguish that I suffered.
I had no idea this debate was raging here and that European degrees are being invalidated by U.S.-centric evaluators. I have learned a lot, and feel very strongly that this is discrimination which is not entirely based on substance, but on an adopted bureaucracy. My opinion aside, be forewarned that J. Silny is in the "anti Bologna Process" camp. This portion of my complaint is therefore a dispute which exists between others as well, and they feel justified in their arguments, so this part is not necessarily an accusation, just a warning to others that their European degrees (after 1994) will very probably not be judged as equal to American degrees by J. Silny, based on their position.
My second complaint, however, was never adequately addressed, because there simply is no logical rationale for it. J. Silny and Associates misstated my degree as "English as a Foreign Language", when my diploma and transcripts clearly state it as "Masters in English and American Literature", an entirely different field of study (foreign languages is a whole different department than literature). English Literature is the critical study of literary texts, quite a different field than linguistics or foreign language study. They went on to erroneously state in my transcript evaluation that "All courses were studied as English as a Second Language", which is completely false.
I am a native English speaker, and all Masters programs at the accredited university in question are taught in English across the board, with the clear and documented prerequisite that students have a high level of proficiency in English, the language of instruction. My program in English Literature was no exception. Silny stated that because the university requires all non-native English speakers to take a TOEFL test to prove English proficiency (a test required for every Masters program at the university), that my degree was therefore "English as a Foreign Language". Absolutely ridiculous (incidentally, as a native English speaker, I was not required to take that test). When I asked if, based on their rationale, Math and Chemistry (also requiring a TOEFL test for non-native English speakers) would also be considered "English as a Foreign Language" degrees, they didn't respond. Perhaps they would be "Math as a Foreign Language" degrees. It's an absolutely nonsensical evaluation. American universities ALSO require this test for students from non-English speaking countries (see http://www.graduatecatalog.ucf.edu/Programs/program.aspx?id=1210&tid=438 for example- "A score of at least 233 (computer-based test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for applicants from countries where English is not the official language or applicants with degrees from a non-U.S. accredited institution.") who apply to their AMERICAN English Literature Masters programs. I feel pretty certain that Silny wouldn't evaluate an English Literature degree from the University of Central Florida (in their home state) as a Foreign Language degree, even though their TOEFL requirement is exactly the same as Leiden's. I can only see this as an unfounded bias against European universities.
All in all, if you have a degree from a European university, regardless of how legitimate, AVOID J. Silny & Associates. You simply will not get an equivalency evaluation, no matter how valid your degree, because that is their position on European degrees. They do not seem to care about the substance of your education, and they do not seem to care about getting the title of your degree accurately. They do not seem to care about how they will damage your life, and seem very satisfied in being able to be "right" about semantics arguments, rather than being fair or logical in their evaluations. You don't have to be devastated and feel your hard work called into question. There are alternatives, I have learned, and not all evaluation bureaus are the same. Learn from my mistake and call some other bureaus, who will be much more reasonable and sympathetic to rational arguments in evaluating your European degree.
San Rafael, California