Eli5 College degrees


Why if I have an American college degree that it may not be enough to work with that qualifications in the UK? Me and my friend are curious he has an internal medicine focus and I have a forensic medical analysis focus.

In: 1

Because different countries have different regulations/requirements.

Each course is structured to meet the requirements of the relevant country so that graduates can be employed. But if you try to go to another country your course might not be up to their standards

Anyone can give you a college degree. A degree is only as valuable as the credentials of who gives you the degree and what it took to get the degree.

If the UK has different requirements for what it takes to get a degree and the U.S. does not have the same requirements, the degrees are not equivalent.

No degree from any college anywhere legally entitles you to anything, anywhere. The decision by companies and organizations to respect degrees as evidence of qualification is a voluntary one, and any company or organization can decide that any degree or any degree from some college simply doesn’t matter to them.

What typically happens, is companies and organizations will respect degrees from colleges that have some level of renown (regardless of location), are local or regional to them, or at least aren’t in disrepute.

So if you have a degree from some community college in some random American county, it might very well be possible that an employer in the UK, who has no understanding of the American college system, might disregard that as evidence of your qualifications.

EDIT: All that said, degrees from US institutions generally find wide acceptance outside the US.

Well, every country on this world has basically its own school/university system, focusing on different things to learn and to teach. Sometimes even inside a single country not every school qualification from one federal state is accepted in another federal state. And especially in so complicated fields like medicine, with legal and financial implications, requirements are very strict.

There are of course initiatives so that certification in one country can be accepted in another country etc, but this is often only done in specific places (the EU has several of these for internal transfers) and/or for specific fields.


For a profession like medicine or law, your ability to practice in a given jurisdiction will be set by the local professional regulatory body. Those bodies will make sure that the degrees from local universities/colleges provide a high enough quality education in all the necessary areas so that those graduates can practice locally.

However, if you get a degree from elsewhere, the local body may not know enough/anything about the school that you gave you the degree and so will often require that you either take additional courses locally or practice under supervision until they can be satisfied that you know everything that you are supposed to before they Green light you to practice on your own.

This will come up most often with careers that have governing bodies. In professions like engineering or medicine, where your mistakes can cause real harm to people, we don’t want just anyone walking off the street with a piece of paper saying they’re qualified. Instead, there’s a trusted body, like the National Society of Professional Engineers, or the American College of Physicians, and they in turn will vet these schools to make sure that their programs are actually good enough to keep their graduates from hurting people instead of helping.

This vetting process is the limiting factor here. There are about ~150 medical schools in the US that need to be trusted, and they will produce the large majority of the doctors in the US. The ACP isn’t necessarily going to vet every medical school in Europe in the same manner, because they might only get a doctor coming to the US from those schools every few years at best. It is far far easier (and cheaper) to just offer a single recertification process as a catchall.