How to Prepare for Military Course Reviews

Before, During, and After a Review

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The purpose of a course review is to evaluate military training courses. Courses to be evaluated are selected by the services, not by ACE.

​During the review, the review team will analyze course materials, identify learning outcomes, and recommend postsecondary educational credit based on its findings. The review is conducted either virtually through a secure SharePoint platform or onsite at the training location. No more than 11 courses can be evaluated during a single review.

Although many processes are the same for virtual and onsite course reviews, there are some special requirements that only apply to onsite reviews. If you are planning an onsite review, please read the Tips for Onsite Course Reviews section below.

 Before the Review

Course Submission

​Military training sites or schoolhouses 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 training sites or schoolhouses then prepare and submit review requests to their service program managers using the MTEP Portal to start the review scheduling process. Once the review requests and dates have been validated by the service program manager, the review requests are compiled into a master schedule and formally approved by ACE, DANTES, and the individual services. For more information on review readiness, see the Military Review Resources page.

Course Eligibility Criteria

Course planning documents (programs of instruction (POIs), training course control documents, master course schedules, approval letters, etc.) must be submitted electronically to ACE using the MTEP Portal 90 days before the review is scheduled to begin.

ACE must have these course documents on file to answer inquiries from credit-granting institutions regarding course content.

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 created 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

Consider the following guidelines when submitting courses for review:

  • 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 May 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 August 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 credit extended (CE) and it will not be reviewed again.

If there has been a substantial change, ACE staff will code the course as pending evaluation (PE) and will review the course again.

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. ACE staff will discuss the disposition list with the training site’s point of contact (POC) during a pre-review meeting.


ACE will provide a draft agenda (6 KB pdf) for the review. The POC should address any scheduling concerns with ACE staff.

Reviews are generally conducted over a one-week period, with the review team working independently and together to evaluate the course materials. Reviews typically begin on a Monday with an in-briefing by the POC. The review typically concludes with an exit briefing by ACE staff to explain the general amounts of credit recommended for the courses.

Pre-review Meeting

Approximately 30 days before the scheduled review, ACE staff will schedule a pre-review meeting (150 KB pdf) to review the course disposition list and draft agenda and to address any questions or concerns.

The POC should explain to the instructors and course managers the purpose of the review and why the review team needs to see current course materials.

The POC should invite anyone responsible for producing course materials to the pre-review meeting.​​​​​​

Course Materials

Course materials are uploaded through the MTEP Portal at least 60 working days before the start of the review.

Course materials are uploaded per the format outlined below: 

Electronic File Structure

Each course has its own folder labeled with the course name as it appears on the programs of instruction, training course control document, and curriculum outline submitted to ACE. The files are organized into four folders:

  1. Course planning documents
  2. Instructor material
  3. Student material
  4. Assessments

For distance learning courses, or courses with online modules, POCs can provide access to a learning management system so faculty evaluators can view the files directly.

Required materials are:

  • The curriculum outline (program of instruction, training course control document, and master course schedule)
  • All associated student manuals and materials, (student guides, exercise books, handouts, etc.)
  • All associated instructor materials (PowerPoint presentations, lesson plans, manuals, etc.)
  • All assessments (including, but 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. 

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 for which all of 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.

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

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 completio​​n 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; the manner in which the course developers incorporate course content as well as its complexity and 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.​​​​​​​​​​

 During the Review

Instructor/Course/Subject Matter Expert Availability

Instructors or course developers need to be on call during the week the team is working on the review. ACE staff will contact the POC if the team has questions regarding the courses.   

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.

ACE staff will briefly describe the background and goals of the American Council on Education, with particular emphasis on military course reviews.

For a virtual review, the in-briefing is done during a meeting with the review team, the POC, and ACE staff. If the POC is not available, the in-briefing can be done via a PowerPoint presentation that is loaded onto the virtual review portal.

ACE staff will be available during the review to talk with instructors or other school representatives if they have further questions.

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.

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 ACE Military Guide, in terms that are 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 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, ACE staff and the reviewers will summarize their reactions to the courses reviewed and provide the unofficial review report of the courses reviewed.

 Tips for Onsite Course Reviews

Review Materials

Consider the following information when preparing review materials:

  • For an onsite review, the review materials can be uploaded through the MTEP Portal if the review team will have internet access at the review site.
  • If there is no internet access at the review site, review materials can be provided onsite in hard copy (paper) or on designated computers in the review room.  
  • 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 on computers, each faculty member will need a separate computer with all materials loaded.
  • Course materials should be organized using the electronic file structure specified below.
    • Each course should have its own folder labeled with the course name as it appears on the programs of instruction, training course control document, and curriculum outline submitted to ACE.
    • The files are organized into four folders:
      1. Course planning documents 
      2. Instructor material
      3. Student material
      4. Assessments
  • Note that the ACE team does not have Common Access Cards (CAC), so the computers must be accessible without CACs.
  • 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, doesACE staff 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.

Directions to Review Site

  • For onsite reviews, the onsite POC should provide directions from the appropriate access gate or the hotel to the building location.
  • The POC should also 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, the POC should 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.

Work Space

For onsite reviews, the ACE review team needs:

  • A large conference room or a classroom (330 KB pdf) with work space for the team
  • A work table for ACE staff
  • Privacy during the course review so the review team can discuss the materials and their questions
  • 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 if cell phones are not allowed in the review room
  • A whiteboard or an easel with chart paper
  • Service personnel may not remain in the work area unless specifically requested to do so by ACE staff

Tour (optional; 30–45 minutes)

A brief tour of the training laboratories or unique instructional areas may help orient the team to the nature of instruction offered and familiarize 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.​

 After the Review

Following 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 to access service-specific contacts an​d to download document samples and forms.

​View and Download Resources

 The Military Guide

Explore military training and occupations carrying ACE recommendations.

The Military Guide