If you are a current servicemember or veteran thinking about pursuing a college degree, here’s something you should know: Some colleges may award academic credit for your military service.
“A university will evaluate all of your military training and experience for consideration of possible transfer credit whether you are on active duty, inactive, retired, or separated from any branch of service, including the National Guard and Reserves,” according to the American Council on Education (ACE).
This can give you a serious head start on your degree.
Every college has its own admission and credit transfer requirements. You can find admission requirements listed on their websites. Some schools have veterans’ services offices that can also provide you with information. Transfer credit policies also can be found in a college’s catalog, usually available online.
When colleges evaluate transfer credits, they want to see what you’ve learned in the military directly relates to the school’s academic objectives, according to ACE. The program you want to study may also play a role in determining how some credits will transfer. For example, if much of your military training is in engineering and you apply for a social science program, they may apply as elective credits.
Transfer Credit Evaluation Process
You’ll want to get a copy of your military transcript, known as a Joint Services Transcript (JST), from your branch of service – U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard. If you served in the Air Force, you would request a copy from the Community College of the Air Force. CCAF is regionally accredited and has its own transcript, according to ACE.
Your military transcript should include the following:
- Servicemember information
- Military coursework and experience
- College-level test scores such as Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Subject Standardized Tests (DSST)
- Additional learning experiences
Review your transcript to ensure it’s up to date before you begin applying to colleges. Start this process early in case there are any errors or omissions that need to be corrected. Once you know it’s correct, official copies must be sent directly from your service branch to the schools.
Keep in mind, some colleges won’t make an official decision about transfer credits until after you’ve enrolled. Some may wait until you’ve completed a certain number of courses. But many will give you an unofficial evaluation of your transfer credits before you are formally admitted. You will want to know what you’re likely to get credit for so you don’t waste time and money taking a course for which you’ve already satisfied the requirements, according to a Military.com article.
Here are some organizations that can help you through the process:
- ACE evaluates how much and what kind of credit to award for military training and experience.
- Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) consortium awards credits for military training and academic testing.
- Defense Activities for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) offers several specialty education programs.