ACE Military Guide Frequently Asked Questions


​The ACE Military Guide is the sole source of information for all military courses and occupations evaluated by ACE from 1954 to present. ​​

ACE credit recommendations are based on evaluations conducted by college and university faculty members who are actively teaching in the areas they evaluate. These recommendations appear on the Joint Services Transcript (JST). Additional information regarding the learning experience is available in the Military Guide.

In April 2021, ACE launched a modernized version of the Military Guide, which offers an interactive web application that facilitates the award of academic credit to students based on their military learning experience. Find answers to frequently asked questions about the modernized Military Guide below.

Making Credit Award Decisions

 1. How do I make credit awards for courses?

When you read a course exhibit, consider the following to help you determine the appropriate placement of credit within the requirements and programs at your institution:

  • Credit recommendations
  • Learning outcomes
  • Instructional strategies
  • Methods of assessment
  • Minimum passing score

 2. How do I make credit awards for occupations?

When you read an occupation exhibit, consider:

  • Credit recommendations
  • Description

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 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 student has applied for credit toward more than one military learning experience
  • Place the student at the appropriate level in the course sequence or program of study

 3. 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.

ACE encourages you read the entire course or occupation exhibit in order to make an informed decision. The summaries include the course or occupation description, 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:

  • Transfer directly as a major requirement
  • Meet basic degree requirements
  • Waive prerequisite requirements
  • Replace a required course
  • Substitute an optional course within the major
  • Transfer as a general elective

Since each service member has a unique experience while serving in the U.S. 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.

 4. How do I 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:

  • Coursework normally offered in certificate or diploma (non-degree) programs
  • Designed to provide students with occupational skills
  • Course content is specialized
  • Accompanying shop, laboratory, and practical exercises emphasize procedural skills

Lower division:

  • Courses typically found in the first two years of a college degree program
  • Covers basic terminology, principles, methods, and perspectives as a foundation for more advanced study
  • Learning outcomes are generally assessed and aligned with lower-level Bloom’s Taxonomy cognitive skills of remembering and understanding

Upper division:

  • Courses typically found at the junior or senior level of a bachelor’s degree program
  • More advanced in scope and depth
  • Learning outcomes align to Bloom’s Taxonomy’s higher-level cognitive skills, such as applying and analyzing


  • Higher levels of cognitive behavior aligned to Bloom’s Taxonomy categories of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation
  • Passing grade of no less than 80 percent
  • Demonstrate an appropriately aligned assessment expectation
  • Requires one or more of the following:
    • Independent study
    • Original research
    • Critical analysis
    • Scholarly and/or professional application of the specialized knowledge or discipline

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

 5. How do I avoid duplicate credit awards?

Granting credit for any combination of learning experiences is based on your institutional policies, processes, and procedures. 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.

 6. Why do some courses and occupations have end dates?

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.

 7. Can I award credit to a service member who completed the course after the exhibit end date?

Yes, you can award credit if the student started the course during the time span listed in the exhibit dates.

 8. How do I figure out how much credit to award for 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. The enlisted paths of progression chart will help you determine the appropriate pay grade or skill level.

 9. 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 have not been evaluated by ACE.

 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 warrant officers in the occupation.

Course Evaluations

 1. What is a course?

Courses consist of a set curriculum with measurable outcomes, rubrics, and validated student assessment instruments. Courses may include lectures, small group work, case studies, skills lab, clinical work, 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.

 2. How do courses get evaluated by ACE?

Each service decides which courses to submit for ACE evaluation. 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 40 academic hours in length.
  • For distance learning courses, there must be firm identification of the learner and proctored assessments.

 3. How does ACE evaluate courses?

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. Courses without assessments cannot be reviewed by ACE.

 4. 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). Course ACE ID numbers have two-letter codes that identify the service:

  • AR = Army
  • MC = Marine Corps
  • NV = Navy
  • CG = Coast Guard
  • AF = Air Force

 5. What happens when a service member takes a course offered by another service?

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, "Joint Cyber Analysis" has an ACE ID number of NV-1402-0296 since the Navy owns the course. The exhibit also has military course numbers for each of the other services, so service members from each service receive the same credit recommendations. 

Occupation Evaluations

 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 the Marine Corps refer to an occupation as an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). For the Navy and the 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 the 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. How does ACE evaluate occupations?

In conducting occupation evaluations, faculty evaluators identify the skills, competencies, and knowledge required for the occupation specialty. They relate that demonstrated learning to the same attributes acquired by students who have completed a comparable postsecondary course or curriculum.

 3. 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 validates 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 reflect 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?

 4. 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) 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.
  • CGA is a Coast Guard aviator.
  • CGR is a Coast Guard rating.
  • CGW is a Coast Guard warrant officer.

The combination of letters and numbers in the middle section of the ACE ID generally refer to the service’s occupation designator. The last three numbers reflect the version of the occupation, so 001 is the first version, 002 is the second, and so on.


1. Most Army MOS summaries 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 Skill Levels 10 and 20, colleges and universities may grant credit based on an individualized assessment of the student.


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

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 is the progression:

  • XX3 = E4
  • XX2 = E5
  • XX1 = E6
  • XXC = E7
  • XXCS = E8
  • XXCM = E9
    • 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. Sailors usually refer to themselves by their rate.

2. What are NECs and how are they being 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 uses 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 - Marine Corps

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

Currently, 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 to 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.
Use of Data

This work and the data within it were entirely funded by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) under Contract H9821020R0005. The contractor, American Council on Education (ACE), has granted to the government and others acting on its behalf, as applicable under the contract, ownership or a paid-up, nonexclusive, irrevocable worldwide license in this and other contract deliverables and data, to, among other things, reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies to the public, perform publicly and display publicly, works generated in performance of the contract.

General public use of this material is authorized only when maintaining the appropriate integrity and quality assurance of the data and publications; and only for the purpose of providing resources and information to service members, veterans, and academic program users; and only without charge; and only when prominently informing users of where to obtain free public access to the data or sources used.


 The ACE Military Guide

​The ACE Military Guide lists credit recommendations and detailed summaries for formal courses and occupations offered by all branches of the military.

The Military Guide