How to Prepare for Military Course Reviews

Before, During, and After a Review

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The purpose of an onsite course review is to evaluate military training courses. 

​During the visit, the review team will analyze course materials, identify learning outcomes, and recommend postsecondary educational credit based on its findings.

 Before the Review

Course Submission

​Military training sites work with service program managers for the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard to identify courses and occupations for review, as well as preferred review dates. Military schoolhouses then prepare and submit review readiness packets and course planning documents (programs of instruction (POIs), training course control documents, master course schedules, approval letters, etc.) to their service program managers to start the review scheduling process. Once the review readiness packet and materials have been validated by the service program manager, they are forwarded to ​ 90 days prior to the desired review start date. Upon approval by ACE, the review type is determined (onsite or virtual) and the review is officially added to the schedule 60 days prior to the review. All identified issues must be corrected 60 days prior to the review. For more information on review readiness, see the Military Review Resources page.

ACE must have these course documents on file to answer inquiries from credit-granting institutions regarding course content. A second copy must be made available onsite during the visit and must be identical to the one submitted to ACE for review.

Course Eligibility Criteria

As specified in the contract, to be eligible for academic evaluation courses must:

  • Contain at least 40 hours of engagement in academic activity.
  • Not contain “proprietary” material or the intellectual property of a non-federal entity.
  • Not include accredited curriculum of a nationally or regionally accredited institution (e.g., Community College of the Air Force) as recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Be developed and taught under the authority of a Military Service Training Command established to train military service personnel as established by appropriate authority of the applicable military department.
  • Have undergone major changes in their curriculum, have not previously been evaluated, have moved to a new training location, or have reached their 10-year limit. The 10-year limit does not apply to courses in rapidly changing career fields such as highly technical and medical courses.
  • Have an end-date-of-course and proctored assessment component if delivered by nontraditional instructional methodology (e.g., distance learning, CBT).
  • Provide for firm identification of the student and rigid control of test conditions.
  • Combine all blended learning components when course content objectives break into smaller units of learning to contain at least 40 hours of instruction, whether covered in a single setting or completed over a specified period using web-based or distance-learning modules. This includes emerging military training initiatives that deploy phased, ready relevant, or other just-in-time types of learning.
  • Be evaluated from service learning sites and military training centers geographically located within the continental United States for onsite reviews.

Course Guidelines

  • If the course is taught in phases, ACE strongly recommends that all phases be submitted together for review. 
  • If there are active duty courses and reserve or other version classifications, all versions should be submitted together.
  • If a course has already been evaluated by ACE, but there have been significant changes (changes other than administrative information such as course number, title, training location), submit new course planning documents (POI, TCCD, curriculum outline, syllabus, etc.).
  • Courses that have not been reviewed by a faculty evaluation team in 10 years must be resubmitted for review. Credit recommendations expire 10 years after the faculty evaluation team’s review.
  • Do not submit courses that have never been taught. Courses should have a history of being taught for at least one year before being submitted for an ACE evaluation.
  • Courses that have never been evaluated by ACE are treated as new courses.
  • Do not submit courses with fewer than 40 academic hours.
  • Every course must have individual assessments that clearly align with the course's learning objectives.
  • Do not submit unit training, correspondence or distance learning courses that do not have proctored assessments. There must be firm identification of the learner to make a credit recommendation.
  • Do not submit courses that have a future training start date.
  • Do not submit courses that are earlier versions of the course last reviewed by ACE. For example, if the ACE team last reviewed a course with a training start date of 5/17, as noted on the official documentation (POI/memo/TCCD/LOP), don't submit an earlier version of that course with a training start date of 8/12. To ensure the integrity of the review process and align credit recommendations appropriately to current college curriculum, ACE cannot go back in time to review earlier versions of the course.

​Course Processing

Credit recommendations from a team review are in effect for 10 years, provided there are no major changes in the course's content, learning outcomes, or academic hours. Whether a course requires a new team review prior to the 10-year mark is determined by comparing the submitted documents with the most recent course materials that were previously evaluated. If there has not been a substantial course change, ACE staff will code the course as “CE" for “credit extended" and it will not be re-reviewed.

If there has been a substantial change, ACE staff will code the course as “PE" for “pending evaluation" and will re-review the course.

New courses will be coded as “PE" if they meet the criteria.

Disposition List

ACE will prepare a disposition list (93 KB PDF) showing all courses submitted and the codes indicating which ones will be reviewed. The disposition list also includes notes indicating any questions the staff has about courses, dates, and previous reviews.

Agenda and Directions

ACE will provide a draft agenda (6 KB PDF) for the review visit. The onsite POC will provide a completed agenda by the date requested and should address any scheduling concerns with the ACE field coordinator or the senior program manager.

Directions from the appropriate access gate or the hotel to the building location should be added to the agenda by the onsite POC. With that, please advise ACE staff of security requirements for access to the installation. ACE will provide the necessary information for access. Any passes that can be issued in advance are appreciated. If appropriate, please provide advance notice to the security gate/office personnel of the team’s arrival to expedite access. Due to installation security issues, or for convenience, some POCs prefer to arrange van transportation to and from the hotel for the team. This courtesy is greatly appreciated by the review team.

Telephone Conference 

Approximately 30 days before the scheduled site visit, the ACE field coordinator will schedule a telephone conference (150 KB PDF) to review the course disposition list and draft agenda and to address any questions or concerns regarding the onsite visit.

The onsite point-of-contact (POC) should explain to the instructors and course managers the purpose of the visit and why current course materials will be required during the review. 

The POC should invite anyone responsible for producing course materials to the conference call.​​​​​

 During the Review

Work Space

A large conference room or a classroom (330 KB PDF) with work space for the team is required. A work table should also be provided for the ACE field coordinator and the ACE senior program manager. The room must afford privacy during the course review. All course materials must be assembled in this room before the arrival of the review team.

Plan to provide a call roster with appropriate contacts for each course or group of courses so the team can easily make contact when there are questions. Access to a telephone is necessary. Please provide pads of paper, #2 pencils, and an electric pencil sharpener for the reviewers. The team will also need a whiteboard or an easel with chart paper.

Course Materials

The materials provided onsite must support the course planning documents initially submitted to Military Evaluations for review. The materials can be provided in hard copy (paper) or electronically (on designated computers). Required materials are:

  • A copy of the same curriculum outline (program of instruction, training course control document, and master course schedule) that was sent to ACE with the same training start or implementation dates.
  • All associated student manuals and materials, (student guides, exercise books, handouts, etc.).
  • All associated instructor materials (PowerPoint presentations, lesson plans, manuals, etc.).
  • All assessments. This includes, but is not limited to, examinations, quizzes, go/no-go checklists, evaluation rubrics, and writing assignments.
  • Any additional supplemental materials that will enhance the team’s understanding of the course.

Ideally, 100 percent of the above materials for the course should be provided for the team to review. 

However, if the course is too large to provide 100 percent of the materials, the course manager or POC should provide all assessments and the related instructor and student course content. The course manager or POC should consider the significant modules or content in terms of the learning objectives for the course, the assessments and the related instructional tools (PowerPoint presentations, videos, handouts, worksheets, manuals, etc.).

In situations in which all the materials are not provided, POCs should know that:

  1. There could be an impact on any credit recommendations.
  2. During the review, the team may require additional information.
  3. The course subject matter expert (SME) needs to be readily available to answer questions and provide additional materials to expedite the review process.

If course materials require a specific security measure (e.g., assessments), please advise the ACE team in advance of the review on how they will be able to review these items. For example, does the ACE coordinator need to sign for the materials and maintain them in the secured room or does the team need to call the course POC when ready to review these components? Advanced planning will facilitate the onsite review process.

(Please note that the ACE contract states that classified information shall not be accessed, reviewed, or evaluated for civilian credit equivalency. Any classified content within the course materials must be sanitized before being presented to the team.)

Materials for each course should have a cover sheet that gives the course identification number, title, and the subject matter expert’s name and telephone number.

All course materials should be ready and in the room designated for the review prior to the team’s arrival.

If the course materials are computer-based, a computer station for each faculty member, with all materials loaded, is required. Note that the ACE team does not have CAC cards, so the computers must not be secure. The computer files should be set up as follows:

Electronic File Structure:

  1. Each course should have its own folder labeled with the course number as it appears on the course planning documents submitted to ACE.
  2. The corresponding program of instruction (POI), training course control document (TCCD), or master course schedule should be the only stand-alone document in that course folder.
  3. In each primary folder, there should be three subfolders for the different types of materials:
    • a. Instructor Material
    • b. Student Material
    • c. Assessments

Course Content

In order to ensure efficiency and effectiveness while maintaining academically sound practices in the review of learning, the services should provide documentation that provides clear and concise descriptions of the following components:

Learning objectives. Learning objectives identify the skills and knowledge that must be mastered through successful completion of the learning event. Traditionally, these objectives are defined through terminal and enabling learning objectives and are most often identified in the programs of instruction, training course control documents, and curriculum outlines currently submitted by each of the services.

Learning activities. Learning activities describe the method by which the content is delivered and the time and structure of learning events. For resident courses, these activities are often identified in student lesson plans and instructor materials, and supplemented through classrooms, labs, and learning resources (books, journals, equipment, etc.). For distance learning courses, the services should work with the contractor to identify service-specific documentation that provides the review team members with a sense of how the materials are organized and presented; the types of learning resources that are provided; methods of providing learner support; and the manner in which the course developers incorporate course content, its complexity, its rigor, and the level of learning demanded by the learning objectives.

Assessment strategies. Assessment strategies should include identification of the knowledge and behaviors that must be obtained and the indicators that best demonstrate attainment of the intended outcomes. Assessment strategies should also include a description of assessment items, assessment instruments, and assessment protocols. For distance learning courses, the services must demonstrate evidence of a process that ensures firm identification of the student and rigid control of test conditions.

Instructor/Course/Subject Matter Expert Availability

Instructors or course developers need to be on-call should the team have questions regarding the course. Service personnel may not remain in the work area unless specifically requested to do so by the ACE field coordinator.  

In-Briefing (approximately 20–30 minutes)

A general presentation and overview by the POC and any other appropriate personnel helps the team understand how courses being reviewed align with each other and how they fit into the installation’s training mission. The presentation should cover such topics as selection and evaluation of instructional staff, course mission, profile of students attending the course, procedures for evaluation of student performance, and maintenance of student educational records. In addition, any unique nuances of the courses being reviewed should be pointed out to the team at this time.

The in-briefing should also include introductions of key personnel involved in the review.

The ACE field coordinator will briefly describe the background and goals of the American Council on Education, with particular emphasis on military course reviews. The field coordinator will be available during the site visit to talk with instructors or other school representatives if they have further questions.

Tour (optional; 30–45 minutes)

A brief tour of the training laboratories or unique instructional areas orients the team to the nature of instruction offered and familiarizes them with the educational resources available to the students. The tour should only be scheduled to enhance the team’s understanding of the course when there are unique equipment facilities beyond the typical classroom setting.

The introduction, presentation, and tour together should not exceed 90 minutes.

Course Reviews

The team's responsibility is to determine whether the course content has the academic subject matter and rigor equivalent to collegiate learning. The team analyzes and evaluates the course materials and aligns the credit recommendation for each course to current college curricula. This process involves three major tasks:

  1. The formulation of a subject area credit recommendation for each course to include semester hours and credit level.
  2. The preparation of the overall course description, instructional strategies and methods of assessment.
  3. The construction of learning outcomes for each credit recommendation.

When exercising their professional judgment to determine a credit recommendation and whether the course is equivalent to postsecondary level work, reviewers consider a number of relevant factors, including:

  • Course content
  • Depth and breadth of material
  • Level of difficulty
  • Applicability to a range of postsecondary programs
  • Learning outcomes
  • Evaluative and assessment instruments appropriate to measure the service member’s learning
  • Length (usually in contact hours) of instruction for all instructor-led courses

The course review process also incorporates an evaluation of how learning is occurring in the course. This is frequently benchmarked with a learning hierarchy, such as Bloom’s Taxonomy.

As part of the team's process for analyzing course materials, identifying learning outcomes, and making credit recommendations, the faculty reviewers are expected to validate and record the overall passing rate for each course.

As military training typically establishes a course pass rate of 70 percent or higher, if the pass rate is less than 70 percent, there is a note printed in the credit recommendation section of the exhibit. If there are graduate-level credit recommendations for a particular course, the pass rate must also be validated and recorded at 80 percent or higher by the review team.

Using the information provided in the curriculum outline, reviewers craft the course exhibit description which appears in the Military Guide in terms meaningful to civilian educators. The effective date for a course recommendation will be the implementation/training start date of the curriculum outline provided to the review team. If there is an earlier version of the course in the Military Guide, the training start date of the current version should align with the end date of the previous version to mitigate gaps in training. If that is not the case, the schoolhouse should also provide the course planning documents ​and course materials for the interim period for the team to review.

If a course is pulled onsite, the published exhibit for that course will not change.

Exit Briefing (approximately 30 minutes)

The exit briefing is an unofficial review report conducted to discuss some initial findings. At that time, the ACE field coordinator and reviewers will summarize their reactions to the courses reviewed and provide the unofficial review report of the courses reviewed. It should be noted that the reviewers' job is to determine credit equivalencies; they do not make judgments on how well the school meets its own training requirements or suggest changes, unless formally requested.

 After the Review

  • ACE will submit a final report to the point-of-contact no later than 30 working days after the visit.
  • If the POC does not raise any issues about the final report, the course exhibits will appear on the ACE Military Guide three days after the report submission to the service.
  • If there are questions that require clarification, the results will not be released until they are resolved.
  • There is no rebuttal option.
Sample Documentation​
Additional Resources

Visit the Military Review Resources page for service-specific contacts an​d downloadable document samples and forms.

​View and Download Resources

 The Military Guide

Explore military training and occupations carrying ACE recommendations.

The Military Guide