Military Guide FAQ

​​​​​​​Credit Recommendations

1. As a college registrar, transfer coordinator, or faculty authority, do I have to grant credit exactly as it appears in the recommendation?

Each institution decides how to use and align ACE credit recommendations, considering its own mission, vision, policy, procedures, and practices.

The ACE recommendations are measured and documented in semester hour (SH) units and levels. If your institution participates in the quarter hour system, you will need to convert the credit from semester hours prior to transferring it. (For more information on level of credit​, please read FAQ #3 below.)

To make an informed decision, ACE encourages you read the entire course or occupation exhibit. The exhibits include the credit recommendations, related learning outcomes/competencies, instructional strategies, methods of assessment, and minimum passing scores. The complete exhibit will help you determine the appropriate placement of credit for each individual student within the requirements and programs at your institution.

You can use ACE credit recommendations to:

  • replace a required course
  • substitute an optional course within the major
  • transfer directly as a general elective
  • transfer directly as a major requirement
  • meet basic degree requirements, and
  • waive prerequisite requirements.

Since each military member has a unique experience while serving in the US Armed Forces, some academic institutions use other forms of prior learning assessment (PLA), in addition to the ACE recommendations, to validate the full scope of the service member’s learning, knowledge, skills, abilities, competencies and proficiencies.

2. How is the Military Guide useful to employers?

As an employer, you may find the exhibits helpful in identifying the skills and knowledge of veterans when hiring or placing them in jobs. If you have the veteran's military transcript or resume in hand, you may search the Guide for additional information regarding learning outcomes, related competencies, and credit recommendations for a specific course or occupation.

3. How should colleges and universities interpret the levels in the credit recommendations?

ACE faculty evaluators use Bloom’s Taxonomy to align the level of credit based on the course content, rigor, and assessment of learning outcomes. Institutions should consider the following criteria when transferring credit at the appropriate level:

Vocational Certificate: This category describes course work normally offered in certificate or diploma (non-degree) programs that are designed to provide students with occupational skills. Course content is specialized and the accompanying shop, laboratory, and practical exercises emphasize procedural skills.

Lower division: Reflects courses typically found in the first two years of a college degree program covering basic terminology, principles, methods, and perspectives as a foundation for more advanced study. The learning outcomes are generally assessed and aligned with lower- level Bloom’s Taxonomy cognitive skills of remembering and understanding.

Upper division: Reflects courses typically found at the junior or senior level of a Bachelor’s degree program that are more advanced in scope and depth. Courses at this level align to Bloom’s Taxonomy’s higher- level cognitive skills such as applying and analyzing.

Graduate: Reflects higher levels of cognitive behavior aligned to Bloom’s Taxonomy categories of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Requires one or more of the following: independent study, original research, critical analysis, and the scholarly and/or professional application of the specialized knowledge or discipline.

Graduate-level credit recommendations require a passing grade of no less than 80% and must demonstrate an appropriately aligned assessment expectation.

For additional information on the review process and tools, please visit the faculty page.

4. What do the dates that appear after each credit recommendation mean?

There are two dates (month and year) at the end of each credit recommendation. (See a sample course exhibit (PDF).) The first date represents when the course or occupation was first evaluated by a team of faculty members. If there are no changes to the course, the credit recommendations are valid for ten years. If there are changes to the course, the military school will request a new review and the course will have different versions. The second date represents when the course was last reviewed by ACE staff. Staff reviews are done for courses that have had only minor changes.

5. What does it mean when a course or occupation exhibit has been end dated?

ACE credit recommendations are valid for 10 years, provided the course or occupation has not substantively changed. If there has been a change, or it has been 10 years since the ACE faculty team reviewed the course or occupation, ACE will end date the exhibit. The credit recommendations will still appear on the JST if the service member’s dates of training line up with the version of the ACE course or occupation exhibit. Academic institutions make the final decision about whether to award credit for end-dated exhibits.

6. Can I receive a copy of the course syllabus?

The military services own the course planning documents; therefore, ACE can’t distribute them.  ACE works under a contract from the Department of Defense (DoD) to review military training (courses) and experiences (occupations) with the goal of recommending college credits for those experiences.  One of the purposes of the program is to eliminate the need for colleges and universities to do their own evaluations of course materials.  

ACE faculty evaluators review all course materials when making credit recommendations, including course planning documents, instructor guides and presentations; tests, quizzes, practical exercises, writing assignments, case studies, rubrics, student guides, etc. To enable colleges and universities to make informed transfer decisions, Military Guide exhibits from October 2015 to present link credit recommendations to associated learning outcomes to document what a student has learned in each subject.  Exhibits from 2006 to October 2015 contain related competencies for each subject.

7. I have noticed that the Military Guide has undergone some changes in the past few years. Can you provide a history of the changes?

  • Redesigned occupation exhibits to include a single summary of duties performed by service members in that occupation and associated learning outcomes for all credit recommendations. (October 2016)
  • Redesigned course exhibits to mimic what appears in a college catalog, including linking credit recommendations to associated learning outcomes that document exactly what the student has learned in each subject area. (October 2015)
  • Added a brief description of the ACE review process to each exhibit. (May 2015)
  • Added a warning for overly large searches, so users don’t experience failed requests. (June 2014)
  • Redesigned the course exhibits so each version appears separately. (February 2014)

8. Can a service member receive credit for a course that has been completed after the exhibit end date?

Yes, credit may be granted as long as the student started the course during the time span listed in the exhibit dates. (See the sample course exhibit (PDF).)

9. Should credit be awarded twice if the service member's transcript shows credit recommendations for the same subject area from different exhibits?

Granting credit for any combination of learning experiences is based on your institutional policies, processes, and procedures. The notion of duplicate credit may occur when there is overlap in content from a service member's training and experience. For example, credit recommended for an occupation may encompass similar credit recommendations for a service school course that the service member must take. As a second example, a service member may have taken several courses that have similar credit recommendations. In these instances, awarding a simple total of the recommended credit could result in the award of more credit than the learning merits. However, some institutions bundle the similar credit recommendations and align a transfer award to the related subject area(s).

To determine how much credit should be awarded without duplication, consider using the following steps:

  • Read and compare all the descriptions and, on the basis of the student's program of study, identify the appropriate credit recommendation in each exhibit.
  • Referencing the Military Guide, read and compare the overall course description, instructional strategies, methods of assessment, passing score and credit recommendations and related learning outcomes for each exhibit.
  • Determine how much credit might be awarded without duplication, according to the student's degree plan and policies of the institution.
  • Evaluate the strategic alignment and bundling of the credit recommendations as they apply to the service member's education goals.


1. What is a course?

All service members are required to take courses based on their occupation.

Formal military courses must meet certain criteria to be evaluated by ACE: approved by the central authority for the Service (e.g. TRADOC, TECOM, NETC, etc.); be at least 45 academic hours in length (Coast Guard excluded); and for distance learning courses, there must be firm identification of the learner and proctored assessments. Courses consist of a set curriculum with measurable outcomes, rubrics, and validated student assessment instruments. Courses may include lecture, small group work, case studies, skills lab, clinical, practical exercises, computer-based delivery and discussion boards. Successful completion can be measured using various assessment tools that can include case studies, summative examinations, performance tests, papers, group projects and oral presentations. Courses without assessments cannot be reviewed by ACE. ​​The ACE course review process involves a rigorous review of all course materials and assessment tools by a team of content experts with tenured experience in higher education. Credit recommendations by the review team are based on the content, scope and rigor of the course as compared to current college curricular standards.

2. What does the ACE ID mean on a course exhibit and the JST?

All courses reviewed by ACE have a corresponding ACE identification number (ACE ID). The ACE Military Guide can be searched by ACE ID number to view additional data about a course, such as related competencies and learning outcomes. Course ID numbers have two-letter codes that identify the service: AR is Army, NV is Navy, MC is Marine Corps, AF is Air Force, and CG is Coast Guard.

3. What does the version number mean after the ACE ID on a course exhibit?

The version number for the course is listed to the right of the ACD ID. ACE tracks the history of curriculum changes and credit recommendations for courses with the same ACE ID by using version numbers. The course populates the JST based on when the service member started the course and successfully completed it and aligns it to the exhibit dates covered by the appropriate version.

4. What is a Navy pipeline course?

The Navy offers some courses that are called pipelines. The student takes courses A, B, C, and D, and then receives certification for course E. ACE recommends credit for each of the component courses on the expectation that not all students will complete the entire pipeline and because components of the pipeline can change. Students receive a certificate and entry into their records upon completion, citing a new number (course E) and title. However, the exhibit in the Guide will say: "This is a pipeline course" and will list the components.

5. I'm in the Navy, but I took a course offered by the Army. How do I search for a joint service course in the Military Guide?

The ACE ID is assigned based on which military service owns the course. Course numbers for all joint services are added to the exhibit so that the credit populates the service member's Joint Services Transcript. For example, "Physical Therapy Specialty" is a course offered to soldiers under course number 303-N9 Phase 1 and sailors under course number B-303-0050. The ACE ID number is AR-0704-0015 since the Army owns the course.Therefore, when conducting a search on the Military Guide for joint courses, it's best to select "All Services" in the "Services" field to view all the ACE IDs associated with the course, instead of narrowly selecting a single service.

6. What is the passing score for an individual course?

As part of the evaluation team's process for analyzing course materials, identifying learning outcomes, and making credit recommendations, the faculty evaluators are expected to validate and record the overall passing rate for each course. The passing rate is documented in the course materials such as the Programs of Instruction (POI), Training Course Control Documents, Master Course Schedules, and/or approval letters. The service member must pass the course for the ACE credit recommendation to appear on his or her transcript.

For courses evaluated after October 1, 2015, the passing score is listed in the exhibit​ (PDF). Military training typically establishes a course pass rate of 70% or higher.

If the pass rate is less than 70%, there will be a note in the credit recommendation section of the exhibit (see MC-2204-0168).

For graduate-level credit recommendations, the pass rate must also be validated and recorded at 80% or higher by the evaluation team.

8. Why doesn't ACE evaluate DoD schools anymore?

Until October 1, 2012, the American Council on Education (ACE) evaluated training courses and recommended credit for courses offered by Department of Defense (DoD) schools.

After October 1, 2012, the DoD schools were not included in the Military Evaluation Program Contract, because the mission of the program is to support the evaluation of military-centric training and occupations.

Occupations - General

1. What is an occupation?

An occupation refers to the service member’s job while in the military. Examples include Electronics Technician, Hospital Corpsman, Infantryman, and Intelligence Specialist. The Army and Marine Corps refer to an occupation as an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), and for the Navy and Coast Guard, it is a rating. Service members take a series of formal military training courses to be assigned to a particular occupation, and they also have opportunity for on-the-job learning to occur. The ACE occupation review process is focused on the recommendation of credit for learning that occurs on the job, above and beyond the formal classroom training.

2. What does the ACE ID mean on an occupation exhibit and the JST?

All occupations reviewed by ACE have a corresponding ACE identification number (ACE ID). The ACE Military Guide can be searched by ACE ID number to view additional data about an occupation, such as related competencies and learning outcomes. All occupation exhibits have ACE ID numbers beginning with three-letter codes that identify the service:

  • MOS is an Army occupational specialty
  • NER is a Navy enlisted rating
  • NEC is a Navy Enlisted Classification
  • NWO is a Navy Warrant Officer
  • LDO is a Navy Limited Duty Officer
  • MCE is a Marine Corps enlisted occupation
  • MCO is a Marine Corps Warrant Officer
  • CGR is a Coast Guard rating and
  • CGW is a Coast Guard Warrant Officer

3. Do I add together the credit recommendations from different pay grades or skill levels?

When reviewing an occupation credit recommendation, only consider the credits for the current or highest enlisted ​​​pay grade or skill level attained by the service member. The faculty evaluation team has already done the analysis in the field to determine the appropriate award of academic credit recommendations. The occupation credit recommendations are structured as building blocks, so each level already incorporates the credit recommendations for all of the levels below it.

4. How does an occupation review differ from a course review?

The occupation evaluation is more experiential in nature and is an assessment of the “profession” assigned to the service member to determine what learning has occurred above and beyond formal military training. The process involves an extensive review of the official service materials (occupation manuals, task standards, etc.) and interviews with service members currently working in the pay grade or skill level. The combination of the written materials and the interviews validate the professional duty expectations and the learning that occurs on the job.

This process is experiential in nature because it is not customized to the individual service member. The credit recommendations are reflective of what the service member learns on the job by performing at that pay grade or skill level. The occupation review process maintains a meticulous focus in determining whether job knowledge, skills, and abilities learned above and beyond formal military training are of postsecondary rigor.

Some of the factors the faculty evaluators consider:

  • How have the “on-the-job” experiences been learned?
  • Are the occupation expectations reflective of postsecondary-level learning?
  • What are the key components of the occupation’s responsibilities, skills, and requirements?
  • How are they associated with each occupation community and how do they relate to learning outcomes found in a postsecondary curriculum?
  • What are the core related learning outcomes within the occupation field for all pay grade levels?

5. What if the service member's training and experience has not been evaluated by ACE?

The services decide which courses and occupations ACE will evaluate. Colleges and universities can conduct personal learning assessments for students whose training and experience has not been evaluated by ACE.

6. What is the significance to the date on the occupation exhibit and how does it translate to the JST?

The date that is displayed on the JST in the occupation area is reflective of when the service member achieved a particular rank in that occupation. Credit recommendations from the Military Guide populate the JST based on the pay grade/skill level rank that is achieved by the service member and the date the occupation exhibit was valid.

For example: A soldier in the Human Resources Specialist MOS achieved a skill level 40 on January 2, 2011. The Military Guide exhibit MOS-42A-001 is dated 4/03 – 11-13, therefore this service member would receive the credit recommendations from this exhibit as the skill level attainment of January 2011 is within the exhibit parameters.

7. How can you determine the end date of a particular rank on the JST?

The end date of a particular rank can be determined by viewing the date of the next occupation entry on the JST. An end date for a particular rank is not provided on the JST as end dates are not recorded in the service member’s personnel record.

8. Why are there no longer pay grade descriptions on occupation exhibits?

Prior to October 2016, exhibits contained overall duties and expectations for the occupation by pay grade/skill level. Those were replaced by specific learning outcomes for subject area credit recommendations for each pay grade, based on stakeholder feedback and aligned with recent course exhibit changes. The purpose of the change was to parallel the learning outcomes found in college syllabuses and to facilitate transfer decisions by giving colleges and universities more detailed information on the credit recommendations. Current exhibits still contain a summary overview of the general job duties and expectations of the occupation community. A sample occupation exhibit prior to October 2016 can be found here, and a sample occupation exhibit after October 2016 can be found here.

9. How do I align military designators with subject area credit recommendations for pay grade levels in occupation exhibits?

Use the enlisted paths of progression chart to decipher rank names by pay grade across the service branches.

The Navy and the Coast Guard both use the job designator with their pay grade identification system. For example, if XX is the designator code, here’s the progression:

XX3 = E4

XX2 = E5

XX1 = E6

XXC = E7


XXCM = E9​

10. How are credit recommendations for Warrant Officers aligned?

ACE does not differentiate between Warrant Officer pay grades when making credit recommendations. The ACE faculty team validates the on-the-job learning for the Warrant community as a whole in a given occupation. Therefore, only one set of credit recommendations will appear on the JST for all Warrants in the occupation.

Occupations - Army

1. What are primary, secondary, and duty MOSs?

All soldiers receive a primary military occupational specialty (MOS) in which they normally work and are evaluated. Some soldiers receive a secondary MOS, which is generally related to their primary MOS. They are evaluated every other year in the secondary MOS.

A soldier works in a duty MOS, which in most cases is the same as the primary MOS. If the duty MOS is different from the primary MOS, soldiers are evaluated by the supervisor in their duty MOS.

Credit may be awarded in either the primary or duty MOS or both. The soldier must maintain proficiency in the primary MOS as well as the duty MOS.Ordinarily, the primary, secondary, and duty MOSs are in the same or a related career field. If so, there may be some duplication in the credit recommendations.

2. Most MOS exhibits do not carry a specific credit recommendation for Skill Levels 10 and 20. Why is that?

One of ACE's criteria for evaluating an occupational system is that it must provide for the assessment of the individual. Since the Army no longer offers a standardized testing system, ACE recommends credit only for Skill Levels 30, 40, and 50. For Skills Levels 10 and 20, colleges and universities may grant credit based on an individualized assessment of the student.

Occupations - Navy

1. How can I distinguish among the terms paygrade, general rate, rating, and rate?

  • A paygrade is a position from 1 to 9, on the Navy's pay scale for enlisted personnel; in a paygrade, the letter E (enlisted) precedes the number (E-1, E-2, E-3 through E-9).
  • A general rate is an apprenticeship that indicates eligibility for entrance into various ratings.
  • A rating is an occupation, e.g., Air Controlman.
  • A rate is an identifying term or title associated with a given paygrade.For example, for paygrade E-4, the rate is petty officer third class. A rate may also be associated with a specific rating; for example, a petty officer third class whose rating is Air Controlman will usually refer to his or her rate as Air Controlman Third Class. Navy men and women usually refer to themselves by their rate.

2. Do all ratings provide paths of advancement and career development for paygrades E-4 through E-9?

Although most ratings begin at paygrade E-4 and end at paygrade E-9, there are some exceptions.

3. Should service members receive credit for their Navy general rate (paygrade E-3) as well as rating (paygrades E-4 to E-9)?

Yes. Anyone holding a rating is also eligible for the credit recommended in the general rate exhibit. The six general rates are: Airman, Constructionman, Dentalman, Fireman, Hospitalman, and Seaman.

The credit recommended for the general rate should be considered in conjunction with the credit recommendation for the rating.

4. A student has asked for credit for an NEC. What are NECs and have they been evaluated?

An NEC (Navy Enlisted Classification), a four-digit code, identifies qualifications individuals acquire in addition to skills required in their rating. NECs are evaluated using the same procedures ACE has used for the evaluation of occupations. NECs are listed in numeric order. Several NECs require full-time assignment. Keep in mind that individuals must also maintain proficiency in their rating. They are required to pass the rating advancement examination to qualify for promotion. They are thus eligible to receive credit for both the rating and the NEC.

Occupations - Coast Guard

1. Should Coast Guard service members receive credit for their Coast Guard general rate (paygrade E-3) as well as rating (paygrades E-4 to E-9)?

Yes. Anyone holding a rating is also eligible for the credit recommended in the general rate exhibit.

The six general rates are Airman, Constructionman, Dentalman, Fireman, Hospitalman, and Seaman.

The credit recommended for the general rate should be considered in conjunction with the credit recommendation for the rating.

Occupations - Marine Corps

1. How does a student document proficiency in a Marine Corps aviation occupational specialty?

Righ​​t now, the Joint Services Transcript (JST) cannot validate the Marine's skill level of competence with the Individual Training Standards System (ITSS) Maintenance Training Management and Evaluation Program (MATMEP) system. Therefore, the JST presents the credit recommendations for both skill levels III and IV in the Military Experience section.

To request a Marine Training Jacket for proof of skill level:

1 - Contact Keyport ASM Customer Support Center (CSC) via email or phone with training jacket request: or (360) 315-7450. The CSC is the central point of contact for all issues and requests. The CSC is open Monday through Friday from 0500-1700 (PST).

2 - The CSC will coordinate with the individual Marine and Fleet Service Representative (FSR) to tailor the Marine Training Jacket to their needs.

3 - Keyport CSC or the FSR verifies the individual, runs the report, and uploads it into a secure access file exchange website for retrieval. Note: No PII is contained in this report.

4 - When the individual Marine receives the file, they can submit it to whoever needs to review it. Note: MATMEP Skill Levels and T&R Skill Levels do not correlate to one another. T&R Skill levels may not be accepted by certain educational establishments where MATMEPs are.

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