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How to use the Military Guide

December 30, 1899


​The Military Guide is the sole source of information for all military courses and occupations evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE).  Users can search for courses and occupations using the ACE identification number, keywords, course numbers, training location, dates completed, or subjects and levels. The Military Guide is updated daily.

  • Course Evaluations describes how service school courses are evaluated.
  • Occupation Evaluations describes how military occupations are evaluated.
  • Credit Terms defines key terms used in credit recommendations.
  • History summarizes the history of the Military Guide, and ACE's role in its preparation. 

Course Evaluations

Courses listed in the Guide are service school training courses.  They are approved by a central authority within each service. These courses are conducted for a specified period of time using a formal course of instruction, in a structured setting and with qualified instructors.

How to Interpret Course Exhibits

Course exhibits are reports on the results of ACE course evaluations.  They are subdivided into multiple sections, and follow the same structure for all services. The sample course exhibit explains the content and purpose of each section.

When you read an exhibit, consider not only the credit recommendation section, but also the learning outcomes, methods of instruction and related competencies sections. These portions of the exhibit outline the course content and scope and also provide essential information about the nature of the course. This information will help you determine the appropriate placement of credit for each individual student within the requirements and programs at your institution.

The ACE Evaluation Process

Courses are evaluated by teams of at least three subject matter specialists (college and university professors, deans, and other academicians). Through discussion and the application of evaluation procedures and guidelines, team members reach a consensus on the amount and category of credit to be recommended.

Evaluation materials include the course syllabus, training materials, tests, textbooks, technical manuals, and examinations. Additional information may be obtained from discussions with instructors and program administrators, classroom observations, and examination of instructional equipment and laboratory facilities.

Evaluators have  three major tasks for each course:

  • the formulation of a credit recommendation,
  • the selection of related competencies associated with each credit recommendation, and
  • the preparation of the course's description.

The credit recommendation consists of the category of credit, the number of semester hours recommended, and the appropriate subject area. Evaluators phrase the course description (which appears in the Guide exhibits under the headings Learning Outcomes or Objectives and Instruction) in terms meaningful to civilian educators. The course description supplements the credit recommendations by summarizing the nature of a given course.  The related competencies are designed to provide more detailed descriptions of the topics students have learned in the course.

Selection of Evaluators

Evaluators are drawn from postsecondary institutions, professional and disciplinary societies, education associations, and regional accrediting associations.  Faculty evaluators  must be actively teaching college-level courses at an accredited institution and have a minimum of five years teaching experience.

Military Programs staff members  review the submitted course materials to first determine the academic content areas reflected in the course descriptions and learning outcomes.

Staff members select  review team candidates for each academic field appropriate to the course being reviewed. The final team should represent  institutional and geographic diversity, in addition to  subject matter expertise.

The evaluation team  receives training from the staff on conducting the review.  They may also receive a briefing from the service school on the course materials, the assessment process, pass rate for the course, and the students who take the course and any special circumstances associated with the course.

Occupation Evaluations

The ACE evaluation system for occupations has three major components:

  • the selection of evaluators,
  • the materials required for evaluation, and
  • the procedures and guidelines evaluators use in reaching decisions and making recommendations.

How to Interpret Occupations

Occupation exhibits are subdivided into multiple sections, and are structured differently for many of the occupation categories. The sample occupation exhibit identifies the various sections of the exhibit and describes the contents and purpose of each section.

When you read an exhibit, consider not only the credit recommendation section, but also the description section. The descriptions are similar to learning outcome statements of postsecondary courses and programs of study, and provide essential information about the learning required for proficiency in the occupation. Comparing the description section with a description of the course or program of study that the student will pursue will help you:

  • determine how much of the recommended credit applies to the course or program of study at your institution;
  • identify additional areas of possible credit;
  • resolve problems with duplication of credit when the applicant has applied for credit for more than one military learning experience; and
  • place the student at the appropriate level in the course sequence or program of study.

The credit recommendations are advisory. They are intended to assist in placing active-duty personnel and veterans in postsecondary programs of study and jobs. The recommendations may be modified.

Selection of Evaluators

Nominations for evaluators are requested from postsecondary institutions, professional and disciplinary societies, education associations, and regional accrediting associations.

The criteria for selection of evaluators are as follows:

  • The area of an evaluator's competence will closely approximate the area of the training to be evaluated.
  • Preference will be given to candidates with five or more years of postsecondary teaching or administrative experience, including curriculum development.
  • Preference will be given to candidates who are generally receptive to the recognition of learning that occurs in a variety of settings.
  • An evaluator candidate is interviewed by a staff member to determine whether the individual meets the selection criteria.
  • An effort is also made to obtain a diverse geographic representation on the team. Subject-matter specialists represent a variety of postsecondary institutional types.

Materials Required for Evaluation

In order to make a recommendation, evaluators must first identify the skills, competencies, and knowledge associated with a given occupation specialty. The materials relevant to the evaluation are made available to staff members and evaluators by the military services. Materials include:

Army — the official Army MOS manual, which describes the duties and qualifications for each MOS; technical manuals, field manuals, and other publications used by enlisted soldiers and warrant officers in the day-to-day performance of their duties and by enlisted soldiers to prepare for their MOS evaluation tests; enlisted MOS skill-level evaluation tests; and study guides that outline the proficiency requirements for each enlisted MOS skill level.

Navy — the official Navy manuals that describe the duties and qualifications for each occupation; the Bibliography for Advancement Study, rate training manuals, and other publications used by Navy enlisted men and women in the day-to-day performance of their duties and to prepare for their advancement examinations; and the advancement examination.

Coast Guard — the official Coast Guard manuals that describe the duties and qualifications for each occupation; rate training manuals and other publications used by Coast Guard enlisted men and women in the day-to-day performance of their duties and to prepare for their advancement examinations; and the advancement examination.

Marine Corps — the official MOS manual that describes the duties and qualifications for each MOS, individual training standards manuals, and the Maintenance Training Management and Evaluation Program (MATMEP) task list.

The Evaluation Process

Evaluators identify the skills, competencies, and knowledge required of service members in  a given occupation specialty and relate that demonstrated learning to the same attributes acquired by students who have completed a comparable postsecondary course or curriculum. Because the evaluations are based on a comparison of learning outcomes, the amount of time a given enlisted service member may have spent acquiring occupational proficiency is not taken into consideration. The emphasis is on translating the learning demonstrated through occupational proficiency into terms used in formal civilian postsecondary education systems to recognize the same learning.

Evaluation teams are assigned three tasks in the evaluation process:

  • To identify the learning represented by proficiency in the occupation by reviewing the written materials,  by observing service members performing their occupational tasks and by interviewing them and their supervisors;
  • To prepare a description of the duties, skills, competencies, and knowledge required for each specialty; and
  • To make recommendations for each specialty based on discussion and consensus.

Throughout the evaluation process, evaluators exercise professional judgment in applying the evaluative criteria and procedures.

Credit Terms

Educational credit is used by postsecondary institutions to quantify and record a student's successful completion of a unit of study. Postsecondary education consists of courses and programs of instruction for  high school graduates or the equivalent, and adult learners.

Academic Levels

ACE evaluators use the following categories of educational credit when formulating credit recommendations:

Vocational Certificate. This category describes course work of the type normally found in certificate or diploma (nondegree) programs that are usually a year or less in length and designed to provide students with occupational skills. Course content is specialized, and the accompanying shop, laboratory, or similar practical components emphasize procedural skills more than analytical skills.

Lower-Division Baccalaureate/Associate Degree. This category describes course work of the type normally found in the first two years of a baccalaureate program and in programs leading to the associate degree. The instruction stresses development of analytical abilities at the introductory level. Verbal, mathematical, and scientific concepts associated with an academic discipline are introduced, as are basic principles. Occupationally-oriented courses in this category are normally designed to prepare a student to function as a technician in a particular field.

Upper-Division Baccalaureate Degree. This category describes courses of the type found in the last two years of a baccalaureate program. The courses involve specialization of a theoretical or analytical nature beyond the introductory level. Successful performance by students normally requires prior study in the area.

Graduate Degree. This category describes courses with content of the type found in graduate programs. These courses often require independent study, original research, critical analysis, and the scholarly and professional application of the specialized knowledge or discipline. Students enrolled in such courses normally have completed a baccalaureate program.

Semester Hours

Credit recommendations for courses are not derived by simple arithmetic conversion. Evaluators exercise professional judgment and consider only those competencies that can be equated with civilian postsecondary curricula. Intensive courses offered by the military do not necessarily require as much outside preparation as many regular college courses. Evaluators consider the factors of pre- and post-course assignments, prior work-related experience, the concentrated nature of the learning experience, and the reinforcement of the course material gained in the subsequent work setting.

Credit recommendations for military occupations are based on the skills, competencies, and knowledge gained, as demonstrated through proficiency in a given occupation category, without reference to how much time elapsed during the learning process. The semester hour is used as a standard to express how many semester hours of appropriate course work a student would normally complete to attain the same learning outcomes or attest to the same level of competency.

Credit recommendations are expressed in semester credit hours. In determining semester hour recommendations, evaluators will be guided by, but not restricted to, the following standard definitions:

  • One semester credit hour for the equivalent of 15 hours of classroom contact, plus 30 hours of outside preparation; or
  • One semester credit hour for the equivalent of 30 hours of laboratory work, plus necessary outside preparation, normally expected to be 15 hours; or
  • One semester credit hour for the equivalent of not less than 45 hours (contact hours) of shop instruction.


In December 1945, at the request of civilian educational institutions and the regional accrediting associations, the American Council on Education (ACE) established the Commission on Accreditation of Service Experiences, renamed the Commission on Educational Credit and Credentials in 1979, to evaluate military educational programs and to assist institutions in granting credit for such experiences. The first edition of the Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services was published in 1946.

The extension of the World War II G.I. Bill to include veterans of the Korean conflict, and the subsequent enrollment of many veterans in colleges and universities, created a need for the second edition, published in 1954.

The 1968 edition was prepared in anticipation of the increased enrollment of veterans resulting from the educational assistance provided under the Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966, and with the expectation that many would apply for educational credit for their learning experiences in the armed services. In addition, technological advances had necessitated major changes in service training, with a resulting need for new or revised educational credit recommendations.

The 1974 edition of the Guide marked the beginning of the publication of biennial editions of the Guide through computerized composition, continual staff review of courses, and the computerized storage of course information for a more rapid updating of credit recommendations. In 1994, the computerized Guide system came in house, with all data managed by the Military Evaluations Program staff.

Over the years the recommendations contained in the Guide have assisted education institutions in granting credit to hundreds of thousands of service members. The recommendations have been widely accepted because formal military courses share certain key elements with traditional postsecondary education programs. They are formally approved and administered, are designed for the purpose of achieving learning outcomes, are conducted by qualified persons with specific subject-matter expertise, and are structured to provide for the reliable and valid assessment of student learning.

In 1975, ACE implemented a program to  evaluate learning represented by demonstrated proficiency in Army enlisted military occupational specialties (MOS's). Subsequently, the occupational assessment program was expanded to include Navy general rates, ratings, warrant officers, and limited duty officers; Army warrant officer MOS's; Navy warrant officer and limited duty officer specialties; Coast Guard enlisted ratings and warrant officers; and selected Marine Corps MOS's. A small number of Naval Enlisted Classifications (NEC's) also have been evaluated.
In 1994, ACE published the 1954-1989 Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services. It contained all courses and occupations with exhibit dates from 1954 to December 1989. In 2005, this archived edition was incorporated into the Guide Online.

In 2006, after 60 years of publishing the hardbound Guide, the Military Guide became  the sole source of information for all military courses and occupations that ACE continues to evaluate for the services.

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