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College Credit for Military Experience: What You Need to Know

military college credit

Did you now that you can receive college credit for your military service? This can help save you valuable time and possibly thousands of dollars. An ACE and DOD program can help provide veterans and active college credit for military service towards their degrees. 

Military training, courses, and specialty schools can transfer to college credits.  This can result in saving service members and veterans valuable time and money.

Just imagine how all those years of service and TDY trainings could jumpstart your civilian career.

College credits for military service provides an excellent opportunity for active duty service members and veterans.  They allow them to capitalize on their hard-earned military experience and graduate faster.

College Credit for Military Experience and Training

Approximately 1,700 colleges and universities provide the military college credit when you transfer due to your military experience. 

The partnership between ACE and DoD reviews military training in order to recommend appropriate course credit to member schools. ACE educates schools on how to best provide college credit for military experience and training.

This results in saving you time and money.  You are able to begin or continue your educational program with:

  • Fewer course requirements
  • Decreased tuition costs
  • More college credits on your transcript

Saving both money and time will help you to get where you want to get faster.

  • Save Money – An average college course can cost you an average of $550 per credit, not to mention study materials. Through this program you pay nothing and it can save you valuable GI Bill funds.
  • Save Time – College courses can take on average three to six hours per week over a 3 to 6-month period.  With minimal time investment, you can save months towards obtaining your degree.
  • Fast Forward to the Good Parts – Skip past coursework you may have already covered.

Breaking Down What You Save

Average college courses can range from six week to fifteen weeks long. They typically result in three credit hours or semester credits.

The average cost per credit ranges from $135 to $1000+.

At one end would be a local, two-year community college. On the high end would be a four-year, private university.

Average cost per credit across all sectors of $550.

To quantify this opportunity, let’s say a military student transfers in 24 ACE-recommended credits at a public, four-year university with 10 week courses priced at $550/credit.

Cost per 3-credit course = $1,650

24 ACE-recommended credits = 8 completed courses

Total Cost Savings = $13,200

If the student takes two courses per 10-week semester, it would take them four semesters to complete 8 courses.

Total Time Saved = 32 weeks or 8 months

The added benefit is that GI Bill users will save a total of 8 benefit months. Those additional months could be used for:

  • Additional undergraduate coursework
  • Graduate school
  • Transferred months to dependents or spouses

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

Before you begin, 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 Air Force, you will need to obtain your CCAF Transcript instead.  This is your version of the JST.

To request a copy:

  • Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard: Go here.
  • Air Force: Go here.

NOTE: It’s important to also do some research. Some colleges and universities might technically accept your JST, but will award those credits as general elective credits.

Basically, these credits don’t help you complete your degree any earlier. Make 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.

Step 3: Research “Military Friendly” Schools

Look for military friendly colleges. These institutions offer military credit, 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 or Reduced Tuition
  • 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 reach out to numerous schools.  Military training may carry more weight at a specific institution.

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.

NOTE: You can 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.

Step 5: Review Updated Transcripts

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

In some cases, waivers or audits may be considered. This would transfer a course into a preferred degree section or to fulfill a specific course requirement.

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 applying accurately and that you do not take repeat courses.

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

Credits for military experience typically applies to lower level, elective coursework.

The number of credits that apply toward a selected course of study will be determined by the degree requirements. 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 MOS, you may receive less credit than anticipated.

There may be a higher likelihood that transfer credits fulfill more course requirements in the degree is similar to the military occupational specialty. Example: A Cybersecurity Specialist transferring credits into a Bachelor Science in Cybersecurity program.

ACE credit recommendations are just that, recommendations. The final decision regarding the transfer of military college credits is ultimately determined by the college. 

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

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.