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 specializing in the USA as a study destination.

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

The USATC provides education agents with

  • 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 specialized advice

The USATC provides education agents with a general foundation in the 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.

The Course is divided into several sections:

About the US
The US Education System
K-12 Schools in the US
Intensive English Programs (IEPs) and Pathway (Bridge) Programs
US Professional Education and Training (PET) Schools
Community (Two-Year) Colleges
Four-Year Colleges and Universities
Graduate Schools and Specialized Programs
The Culture of American Schools
Living in the US – Practical Considerations
Student Visa Information
Working in the US
Ethical Behavior in Recruiting
Resources and Appendices

The USATC is free of charge and is delivered in a self-paced modular format.

USATC examinations are conveniently offered online, at ICEF events and at international education events as advertised. An exam fee of US$350 will be charged. This fee includes 3 attempts at the final test if required.

Education agents who pass the USATC examination will receive a notification indicating that they have successfully passed and will be acknowledged with a US Course Graduate (USCG) listing on the ICEF website.

Benefits of the USATC


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 USCG-list and in the Qualified Education App for smartphones, containing the names of over 9 000 qualified agents worldwide.

All courses have extensive study materials available. You can purchase the course eBook for €25 – which is a useful resource for counsellors.


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.

Specific Information on this Course

ICEF's new US Agent Training Course (USATC) is designed for educational agencies committed to:

  • Operating according to the highest standards in providing guidance to international students planning to study in the US;
  • Working effectively and ethically within the framework of the American education and immigration systems.

The course involved extensive consultation with institutions and stakeholders in the US. An international advisory board comprising American associations, organizations, and government entities as well as agents from all around the world reviewed and gave input to the final course material. We thank all who assisted us in the interests of ensuring that agents have access to the most accurate and current information possible when they are advising students about US schools, programs, visa requirements, work regulations, and culture.

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.

Advisory Board Members based in the US

Mike Finnell
Executive Director

Carol Stax Brown
Community Colleges for International Development

Zepur Solakian
Executive Vice President
Center for Global Advancement of Community Colleges

Kathryn Kohut
Executive Director

Annie Lundahl
Director of Marketing
The Association of Boarding Schools

Gabriela Zelaya
Education Team Leader
US Department of Commerce

International Advisory Board Members

Mark Lucas
iAE Global

Hilka Leicht
Managing Director
IEC Online

Almuez Alnimrawi
North America Regional Manager

Ian Bushell
Mentor International

Rubén Mora
Commercial Director
Mundo Joven Travel Shop

Pushbinder Bhatia
PAC Asia Services

José Carlos Hauer Santos
Student Travel Bureau

Oleg Stepanenko
Students International

Wang Wei

Course participants who pass this formal test will earn the designation of US Course Graduate (USCG) and will have their name, photo and company details including website listed on icef.com.

In a further recognition of this professional standing, all graduates will also be included in the Qualified Education Agents App (QEA) for smartphones produced by ICEF and PIER containing the names of over 9 000 qualified agents worldwide – a valuable resource for educators looking for expert agencies!

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.

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



The formal test is online and comprises of 42 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:

  • At an ICEF event (see USATC Test Schedule on the left tab menu). 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 and all you need is photo identification (e.g., passport) and a wireless-enabled laptop.
  • 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; please download here).For both options, please email training@icef.com to reserve your testing slot.

In both cases, the charge for the test is US$350, which allows you to have 3 attempts. Meaning if you do not pass on your first attempt, you still have 2 more chances to become qualified.

For agencies:

In an effort to make the USATC more accessible to agencies, the following discounts are available:

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
Over 10 counsellors - 50% discount

For approved educational agency associations:

In order to support an organized and responsible sector, a special discount will be made to members of educational agency associations that enter into an agreement with USATC.

To prepare for the formal test, you can take the USATC self-assessment test, which can be found on the right-hand side of the USATC homepage once you have logged in. This self-assessment test is identical in structure to the formal USATC test. Each question has only one correct answer, and all questions are based on the USATC content. At the end of the self-assessment, you will receive your result. We encourage only those who pass the self-assessment to attempt the formal test. The pass mark is 75%. Until you have reached a good result on the self-assessment, please keep practising.

If you are taking the test either online or at an ICEF event, you will be automatically notified of your (pass/fail) result as soon as you have finished your test; if you have passed, your USCG Certificate and personal USCG Nr will be emailed to you instantly.

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. If you wish to take the formal test and receive the USCG designation, please try (and pass) the self-assessment test first.