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College Credit for Military Experience: What You Need to Know

military college credit

Did you know you may qualify for college credit for your military service? Your experiences in Basic Training, professional military development, and more could all qualify as college credit, depending on the school and the nature of your training. The key is to provide documentation to the school for your training, professional schools, etc.

College Credit for Military Experience and Training

Thousands of colleges and universities provide military college credit when you enroll or transfer. Transferring your military experience to college credit has some obvious perks–saving time and money for your education is always a good thing.

According to LendingTree.com, the average cost of a credit hour varies greatly depending on which school you choose.

A state resident student at a two-year public school pays an average of $158 per credit hour. The numbers are higher for private colleges: Lending Tree says tuition for a four-year private, nonprofit college is approximately $1,586.

College Credit For Military Experience Is Not Automatic

You must work with an admissions counselor at the school of your choice to determine which credits will transfer to that school. In many cases, Basic Training is viewed as fulfilling a college’s requirements for gym classes or their equivalent. Not all schools have this requirement, but those that do may use your initial training as a way to meet that requirement.

Your advanced training or technical school may provide additional credit in areas like American Government or other 100-level coursework and any specific skill training that may qualify.

Professional Military Education (PME) may count toward management courses (Airman Leadership School, Non-Commissioned Officer’s Academy, Senior NCO Academy, etc.), and more specialized training may count toward meeting the more technical requirements of your degree, but typically these are undergraduate-level credits.

Guide to Maximize College Credits for Military Service

Get the most credit for your military experience. You’ll have to do some research and follow these steps.

Step 1. Request a Copy of Your Joint Services Transcript

If you served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, request a copy of your military Joint Services Transcript. This will include information such as:

  • Your military course completions
  • Military occupations
  • College-level test scores
  • Other learning experiences

For veterans of Space Force and the Air Force, you need a CCAF Transcript instead.  This is your version of the JST.

To request a copy:

NOTE: It’s important also to do some research. Some colleges and universities might technically accept your JST, but will award those credits as general elective credits.  Be sure to ask admissions personnel exactly how those credits will transfer and help you ‘check off’ required courses for your desired degree program.

Step 2: Review Transcripts

Review transcripts for any errors, discrepancies, or missing information. If there is a school or course missing, contact JST or CCAF directly to correct this before submitting official transcripts to a school.

An important part of transcript review is knowing how your school prefers to accept those transcripts. Don’t expect to hand-carry the same transcript you used to review your credits with to the admissions office. As mentioned elsewhere in this article, they will likely require you to have them mailed directly from the issuing agency to the school.

Step 3: Research “Military Friendly” Schools

Look for military friendly colleges. These institutions offer military credit, and may allow you to test out of some subjects using CLEP, or DANTES exams.

Some schools have a dedicated military admissions teams or military transfer credit evaluators.  These are individuals trained in reviewing Joint Service Transcripts and CCAF Transcripts.

Other indicators are:

  • Military tuition discounts
  • Dedicated Military Academic Advisors
  • Military resources or groups on campus, such as Student Veterans of America

Important Note: Selecting Your Ideal College

From here, it is recommended that you contact multiple schools.  Military training may carry more weight at a specific institution depending on the type of training and the type of college program you are entering.

For example, an Air Force member who served as a Russian linguist may get more college credit for transferring relevant language training into a Russian language program at a four-year university than peers who have just as much experience in another area but without the more highly specialized training.

A helicopter maintenance crewmember may get similar consideration when transferring into a directly-related program but in any case, if you want to start a new career, you may find that some of your military credits won’t transfer well if you’re headed into a radically different field.

Acceptance practices are not equal across the board, so please make sure to do your research and keep options open. Enroll only after the school has determined your military transfer credits.

Use CollegeRecon to contact schools to learn about what college credits for military service you may be eligible to receive.

Step 4: Send Transcripts

Send transcripts to a school for review by Admissions Counselors or Transfer Credit Evaluators. In many cases, the transcript must come to the school directly from the institution; any opened transcripts or transcripts hand-carried to the admissions office may not qualify. Be sure to ask.

Step 5: Review Updated Transcripts

Review updated transcripts from Admissions and verify that the transferred courses and/or semester hours were applied correctly.

Step 6: Continue Working with Academic Advisor

Once you are accepted and begin taking courses, continue to work with your Academic Advisor. Make sure that the transferred courses are applied accurately and that you do not take repeat courses. Your advisor may make college credit recommendations about how to best apply your credit and which classes are best to take in-person versus CLEP or DANTES-testing out of them.

What Can Credit Recommendations Do?

  • Replace a required course in a degree program or program of study
  • Fulfill an optional course (i.e. option to choose a Science Course, Humanities Course, etc.)
  • Fulfill a general or free elective
  • Meet basic requirements for a program, concentration or minor, or course
  • Waive prerequisites for a course

Notable Schools Offering Military College Credits

You can find over 1,000 schools that offer college credit for military experience here.  Here are some examples below.  

* Some of the following schools have paid for promotional consideration.

Important Notes About Military College Credits

The degree requirements of the school will determine the number of credits that apply toward a selected course of study. In some instances a transfer course from Joint Service Transcripts or CCAF doesn’t transfer in to fulfill a specific requirement. In that case it may fit into a Free Electives or General Electives category.

If your desired area of study is different than your military career field, you may receive less credit than anticipated.

Transfer credits may fulfill more course requirements if the degree is similar to the military occupational specialty. Example: A Cybersecurity Specialist transferring credits into a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity program.

The college ultimately determines the final decision regarding the transfer of military college credits.  But don’t hesitate to appeal if an adverse decision has been made.

For the ACE Military Guide Frequently Asked Questions, go here.

To get started on earning educational credit for your military experience and skills, visit the American Council on Education’s Military Guide for further details.

About the American Council on Education (ACE)

The American Council on Education (ACE) is a non-profit U.S. Higher Education association. ACE has contracted with the DOD to evaluate the courses and occupations that satisfy or closely match college courses.

ACE’s members include representatives from approximately 1,700 accredited colleges, universities, higher-education-related associations, and organizations around the country. 

ACE recommendations for coursework are validated by the faculty members who teach in the areas they review. By providing an ACE recommendation, they certify that a military course or training has provided the necessary information and knowledge that would have been acquired in a particular college course.





About the author

Julie Provost is a freelance writer, and blogger. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.