University certificates equivalency committee in the Ministry of Education (higher education) is the unit authorized to consider graduate and post-graduate certificates equivalency by prism of its set criteria.
Certificates of Saudi students submitted to committee whether they are on government funding or personal funding or others were reviewed and assessed by this committee after graduation and prior to their employment.
It is typical that certificates are not equalized due to the poor academic standards of the university, program weakness or major courses being few, no recognition of all previous student certificates prior to the last certificate to be equalized, heavy overlapping coursework between bachelor and master programs, the duration in which student received the certificate being short or that no ministry prior approval to study was taken.
To avoid future non-equivalency of a certificate, student should fully commit to his/her academic program and continue attending to his study in the university as recommended by the competent authority. Student should observe the following points during university study:
- Getting approval in advance of Ministry of Education (higher education), and that study should be under supervision of the cultural mission whether the student is in the country of the mission or in a country under supervision, in conformance with the decision of higher education council no. 1/8/1418 endorsed by royal approval no. 7/B/5601 dated 27-08-1998.
- The long standing prestige of the university, college and department one is studying in, and its professional and regional recognition.
- Academic program and courses matching with the label of the certificate and the percentage of major courses to courses studied.
- Overlapping between study levels shall not be high, e.g. a maximum of 6 credit hours can overlap between bachelor and masters degrees.
- The recent major/specialization/discipline should be in concert with the previous one.
- Previous degrees should be recognized by the competent authorities.
- Duration of the previous study level should be sufficient and the study duration of the last degree, its contents and grades are in full form and proper.
- Certificate should be attested by the cultural mission in the country where the certificate was issued. Noting that certificate attestation should not be construed as equalization of that certificate.
- University degree equivalency committee decision No: 1/8/1418 points that student’s obtainment of certificate from the university and cultural attaché authentication does not render inapplicability of equivalence of the equivalency committee of Ministry of Education (higher education).
First: Equalization Decision Classification
Committee of university degrees equivalency, issues decisions as follows:
- Unconditional/Full Equality
- Conditional Equality
- No Equality
Second: Previous Degree and Degree to be Equalized
It is mandatory for the degree one seeks to equalize to be issued by an academic institution deemed admissible by the committee of university degree equivalency in the ministry and that a Saudi general secondary degree, or equivalent, precedes to this degree.
Third: Mode of Study
1. University level:
Mode of the study of the bachelor program or equivalent or of the previous levels, requires regularity, fulltime and residency of students.
2. Graduate and post-graduate level:
- It is expected that, students in graduate and post-graduate levels should conduct their study as regular, fulltime and resident students. Student may study for master level above bachelor part-time in the country of study for at least one academic year, as long as this period is continuous and dedicated for the master's study.
- Student may study for doctorate level part-time in the country of study for minimum two academic years, as long as each year of this period is continuous and both the years are dedicated for the requirements of the doctorate program.
- Student may study for doctorate level above bachelor (not preceded by master degree) part-time in the country of study for the period of three academic years minimal, as long as that each year of this period is continuous and all the years are dedicated for the requirements of the doctorate program.
Fourth: Theses and Dissertations
Student theses or dissertations should be within the area of specialization in their undergraduate level, the degree holder must have taken the prerequisite courses, or the committee may find a convincing reason for the different specialization.
Fifth: Required Courses Overlapping
Supposedly, there should not be any overlap between bachelor and master program requirements. Student enrolled in bachelor program should not be studying courses of a master program.
In overlap cases, the following rules apply:
- The overlap of more than nine credit hours or equivalent in the master's program is not allowed according to the semester system.
- The overlap is only allowed in advanced courses of bachelor level.
- Grades of overlapping courses should not be less than "Very Good" or equivalent.
- Both programs shall be complete in terms of credit hours, i.e. double counting of credit hours is not allowed towards the requirements of both degrees.
Sixth: General Terms
1. Applicant who seeks to study abroad on own expenses should get approval in advance from Ministry of Education in accordance with the following rules:
- Council of ministers decision no. 763 dated 13-07-1973, stipulating obligation of getting approval in advance from Ministry of Education for students seeking to study abroad, although such approval does not entitle students by any means to receive Equivalency after Graduation.
- Royal approval on council of ministers decision dated 02-12-1997, wherein item A stipulated that not to consider equalization of pre-university education and higher education certificates obtained by self-funded students abroad and enrolled after issue of this decision unless a student get prior approval of this ministry permitting study abroad.
2. Study and teaching should not be through any of these following methods:
- Studying in branches or centers affiliated to universities or colleges in a city other than the headquarters of the original university by a specific teaching method and approach that permits study taking place at such centers or branches and granting certificate by the original university.
- Study by affiliation (a program that does not require fulltime attendance or residence).
- Correspondence program.
- Study on weekends or holidays.
- Distance program.
- Education programs designed for specific target students.
- Study through video tapes or cassettes.
- Agreement programs with training centers, institutions or universities, inside or outside the kingdom, where some courses are learnt at these centers or institutes and the remaining courses are to be learnt in the university granting the certificate.
- Continuous education programs.
- Internet-based and e-mail based education programs.
- Evening programs by universities that conduct their programs only in the evenings, including some Gulf universities (as per letter of committee of university degree equivalency no. 25/1/4/11185 dated 02-10-1998.
3. Students who transfer from an education institution to another should complete at least 30% of the courses required for graduation at the institution granting the certificate.
4. Equivalency committee will process academic degrees (diploma, bachelors, master and doctorate) of health disciplines after meeting the requirements. Saudi commission for health specialties provides professional assessment of such certificates.
5. Equivalency of intermediate diplomas obtained after high school and before bachelor degree and diplomas between bachelor and master degrees are treated in analogy with these rules in line with applied academic tradition and customs.