ICEF US Agent Training Course (USATC)

This course supports professional development for agents specialising in the USA as a study destination.

ICEF Agent Training ICEF US Agent Training Course (USATC)

About this course

Welcome to the US Agent Training Course, created and developed by ICEF. The USATC is the first of its kind and supports professional development for agents specialising in the USA as a study destination.

Agents who take the USATC will acquire a firm foundation in the benefits and organisation of the US education system. Agents will also gain access to resources that help international students study in the US at the most appropriate institutions and in programmes that best meet their goals.

The USATC provides:

  • An understanding of the reasons why the US is the world’s top study destination
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the study options and credentials available in the US, in all areas and levels of education
  • Tips on how to best prepare students for living and studying in the US
  • The knowledge and skills to work effectively with US institutions
  • The ability to provide students and their families with specialised advice

The USATC gives education agents a general foundation in education systems and processes in the US as they apply to international students. For information on the rules and processes of specific education institutions in the US, agents will have to conduct their own research and make direct contact. The USATC includes a helpful list of resources at the end of each section for the agent’s personal use.

Agents who study the USATC and pass its exam will be demonstrating their dedication to professional and ethical conduct, and they will be in a better position from which to help international students make wise choices about study in the US – choices that will lead to fulfilling and successful experiences in American schools.

This course is divided into several sections:

  • About the US
  • The US education system
  • K-12 Schools in the US
  • Intensive English Programmes (IEPs) and Pathway (Bridge) Programmes
  • US Professional Education and Training (PET) schools
  • Community (Two-Year) Colleges
  • Four-Year Colleges and Universities
  • Graduate schools and specialised programmes
  • The culture of American schools
  • Living in the US – practical considerations
  • Student Visa information
  • Working in the US
  • Ethical behaviour in recruiting
  • Resources and Appendices


Education agents who wish to further their professional development and focus on the USA as a study destination should take the USATC. While they will not be officially accredited or endorsed by the US Government as a result of passing the USATC exam, agents will have their name and company details published on the US Course Graduate list.

Agents will also have their name and company details published on the USCG Finder and in the Qualified Education Agents (QEA) app for smartphones, containing the names of more than 10 000 qualified agents worldwide.

Information about our recognition programme and agency screening for ICEF Events can be found here:

Agent Quality and Screening
ICEF Agency Recognition Programme


USATC examinations are conveniently offered online, at ICEF events, and at related international education events as advertised. Education agents who pass the USATC examination will receive a notification indicating that they have successfully passed.

The formal test consists of 42 online multiple-choice questions to be answered in 80 minutes. During the test, candidates will have access to online and offline resources. Candidates may use personal notes or information presented online from the course content during the test, but they will not be allowed to phone anyone or ask other people for assistance.

There are two ways to take the test:

1) At an ICEF event. If you are planning to attend an event, please send us an email to reserve your place as soon as possible. You do not necessarily need to be registered for an ICEF event to take the test; you may come just for the test. All you need is photo identification (e.g. your passport) and a wireless-enabled laptop.

2) Online from the comfort of your home or office at a time convenient for you. All you need is an internet-enabled computer with a webcam and an Adobe Flash Player.

For both options, please email to reserve your testing slot.

Testing is not mandatory. You can also study the course for your personal enrichment and professional knowledge. There is also no time frame in which you must take the test after completing the online material.


The USATC is free of charge and is delivered in a self-paced modular format. You can purchase the course eBook for €25 – which is a useful resource for counsellors.

The charge for the test is US$350. This fee includes three attempts at the final test if required.

The following pricing structure applies when multiple counsellors from the same agency take the USATC test:
2 counsellors tested - 10% discount
3 counsellors tested - 15% discount
4 counsellors tested - 20% discount
5 and subsequent counsellors tested - 25% discount
More than 10 counsellors - 50% discount


There are no qualifications or specific language requirements for the USATC. However, English proficiency equivalent to an IELTS score of 5.0 (or TOEFL PBT 500/TOEFL iBT 61) is advisable for candidates with English as a second language.

The designation of US Course Graduate (USCG) does not require participation at an ICEF event, nor are the agents vetted or required to provide partner references to complete training and testing.

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