Student FAQ

Military Students

​​​​​​​​​1. Do I need to be on active duty to have my military training and experience applied toward transfer credit?

No. A university will evaluate all of your military training and experience for consideration of possible transfer credit whether you are on active duty, inactive, retired, or separated from any branch of service, including the National Guard and Reserves.

2. How do I find out how much credit I will receive for my military experience?

You should research transfer policies and explore degree requirements before you enroll. These policies are usually available in the current college catalog, which can often be found on the college’s website.

Many colleges will give you an unofficial evaluation of your transfer credits before formal admission. Some colleges and universities will not make an official decision on transfer credit until after you are enrolled and some may even wait until you have completed a minimum number of courses.

3. Why didn’t I get any credit for my military correspondence courses?

Army correspondence courses are not being evaluated by ACE Military Programs at this time. The correspondence courses offered by the Army currently do not meet the criteria of having a firm identification of the student and a rigid control of test conditions. The Marine Corps Institute (MCI) selects and submits courses to be evaluated by ACE Military Programs. If there is no credit recommendation, MCI has not submitted the course for review.

4. I’ve been working in the same military occupational specialty (MOS) for years and it has current ACE credit recommendations, so why did the college apply those credits to the electives area and not to my major?

Each institution establishes policies on accepting occupational credit recommendations. In some cases, academic institutions will not accept any credit from your ACE occupation credit recommendations. In other cases, the level of the course may be too low. For example, ACE credit recommendations have four categories for the level of credit: vocational certificate, lower-division baccalaureate/associate degree (courses numbered 100-200, freshman and sophomore level), upper-division baccalaureate (courses numbered 300-400, junior and senior level), and graduate (courses numbered 500 and above). If your degree requires a 300-level course and the credit recommendation for the course you completed was for a lower level, those credits cannot be applied to your area of concentration. Lower-level courses often aren’t acceptable because they are basic or introductory in nature.

5. If an applicant has served in more than one branch of the Armed Services, can all the information be consolidated into one transcript?

Yes. The Joint Services Transcript (JST) includes consolidated information for the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard. The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) is regionally accredited and therefore issues its own transcripts (see below).

6. What is Air University?

Air University (AU) is authorized by the US Congress to award degrees appropriate to its mission. AU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). ALL AU programs, both degree and non-degree granting, fall under this accreditation.

AU programs and courses are eligible for credit in civilian academic institutions. Civilian academic institutions can and should follow accepted transfer credit evaluation procedures and use the AU online historical catalog material, the student’s AU Official Transcript, and the considerations of the program the student is applying for in making a transfer credit determination.

Before the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) was founded in 1972, ACE did conduct enlisted course reviews and those courses do appear on the Military Guide.

7. What is a VMET?

The Verification of Military Education and Training (VMET) document (specifically DD Form 2586) is available to any eligible military service member or veteran. This document simply provides descriptive summaries of their military work experience, training history, and language proficiencies. It is during the service members Transition Assistance Program (TAP) experience that they gain access to this document. The VMET does not replace formal military transcripts and is an additional tool to support service members and veterans. Note: US Coast Guard personnel do not have VMET documents.​​


1. What is the ACE Working Transcript and how is it used?

Through Credly's Acclaim platform, ACE provides an official transcript to participants who successfully complete a course, examination or certification with an ACE Learning Evaluations recommendation.

ACE transcripts document and verify that you have successfully completed training or examinations with ACE learning evaluations recommendations. Many people present their ACE transcripts to institutions in an effort to obtain college credit or advanced placement in a degree program. It also may be possible to use your ACE transcript for entry into new areas for employment, job advancement, salary benefits, and personal assessment.

The ACE transcript verifies successful completion of non-military or corporate training with ACE learning evaluations recommendations.

If you have served in a branch of the military, be sure to check the Military Guide to find out if ACE has evaluated your military training or occupation. To learn more about accessing and requesting your military transcript, refer to Requesting Transcripts. ACE's Learner Transfer Guide, will assist you in using your military credit recommendations.

2. What does an ACE Working Transcript include?

An ACE transcript provides a complete list of all training and examinations that you have taken for which you earned ACE's Learning Evaluations recommendations. If you have taken training at your workplace or an examination for a professional certification or license which has not been evaluated by ACE Learning Evaluations, the training would not be included on the ACE transcript. However, many colleges and universities have transfer policies and prior learning assessment programs that provide opportunities for you to submit those learning experiences for potential college credit. Learn more about credit for prior learning.

3. Does ACE issue military transcripts?

No. ACE does not generate military transcripts directly. The Joint Services Transcript (JST) includes consolidated information for the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard. The Community College of the Air Force issues its own transcript.

4. What information is found on a military transcript?

Military transcripts include:

  • Personal service member data
  • Military course completions — all courses that have been evaluated by ACE, with full descriptions and credit recommendations
  • Military occupations — full descriptions, skill levels, and credit recommendations
  • College-level test scores — CLEP, DSSTs, and NCPACE score data and
  • Other Learning Experiences — additional completed courses and occupations not evaluated by ACE for college credit.

5. Are electronic transcripts equivalent to paper transcripts?

Yes. Transcripts contain the same information whether they are provided in paper format or electronically.

6. What is an official transcript?

An official college or military transcript is one that is sent directly to a college or university. Copies of transcripts made by a student are not considered official.

ACE Recommendations

1. What is an ACE Learning Evaluations credit recommendation?

An ACE credit recommendation represents college-level equivalencies based on a review of workforce training, military training or occupations, and other sources of learning outside the college classroom, such as national exams and certifications. The ACE Review is carried out by a team of subject matter experts who currently serve as faculty at universities and community colleges. Together, they decide if the learning experience has similar outcomes to a college course. The recommendation identifies and describes the course subject, the level of learning, and the number of credit hours recommended based on the review.

2. How can I find training programs with ACE recommendations?

ACE has reviewed and provided academic credit recommendations for more than 35,000 courses, examinations, and certifications offered by more than 600 organizations.

Learning Evaluations recommendations for courses, examinations, and certifications are listed in the ACE National Guide under organizations that provided the training. Recommendations for military training and occupations are found in the Military Guide.

When you access the link you will see each organization that is on file with ACE. Search for an organization and click on the orange tile displayed to find an overview of the organization as well as a listing of courses or examinations with ACE credit recommendations. You can also click on each course tile to see a description and the ACE Learning Evaluations credit recommendation.

3. How long do ACE recommendations last?

ACE Learning Evaluations for the Military recommendations are valid for 10 years, unless the course is changed and the service submits it again for a re-review. ACE Learning Evaluations recommendations for workplace and alternative educational experiences are valid for 3 years before courses must be submitted for re-review.

4. What are competencies?

Courses and exams reviewed by ACE may also include workplace competencies—statements describing the skills and abilities mastered by students during the course or demonstrated through an exam. You can use these to document learning for employers, to qualify for a promotion or new opportunity, or to help you describe your own abilities.

5. How do I apply my ACE recommendations to a degree program at a college or university?

If you have already earned a certification or taken a course or examination, you should contact the admissions office at the college you plan to attend to find out if credit is available.

6. How do I find out which colleges accept ACE recommendations?

Each institution, and, in many cases, each academic unit and department within each institution, sets its own policies for granting credit. Some schools may choose to waive a particular course based on the recommendations instead of granting credit hours for your prior learning, others might accept ACE recommended credits but only counting them as electives. Your surest way to find out if a college accepts ACE recommendations is to contact the college's admissions office, and point them towards the National Guide page that lists the course or exam you have completed. You may also send your ACE transcript to colleges for transfer evaluation on the Credly platform if available.

Learn more about our current initiatives and past programs, please visit Expanding Access to Credit for Prior Learning.

7. How do colleges make decisions about the transfer of ACE Learning Evaluations recommendations?

Academic deans, department chairs, and provosts make decisions about their institution’s transfer policies. They consider the ways in which the training compares to their course offerings and the fit to the student’s degree program. A college may also determine transfer policies based on standards of regional or professional accrediting bodies. For additional information, review our student guide to credit for prior learning.

If you have already completed one of the courses or examinations, or plan to take one, you should contact the admissions office at the college you plan to attend to determine the acceptability of the course for academic credit.

8. Why did I not receive credit for my vocational credit recommendations?

Some higher education institutions do not accept vocational credit as a matter of policy. Others may not accept this credit if they do not have equivalent courses at the vocational level.

9. Why don’t I get the same credit for Version 2 as recommended for Version 1?

Each version of a credit recommendation is based on a separate evaluation. If the learning outcomes or curriculum have changed, it is likely that the ACE credit recommendations have changed as well. Let’s say you take a course for 18 weeks in 2017 and the same course offered in 2020 has been reduced to only 12 weeks. The shortened course will probably have a change in learning outcomes and curriculum covered, which will change the ACE credit recommendations.

10. What is the difference between CLEP/DSST examinations and military ACE credit recommendations?

CLEP/DSST exams are college-level equivalency exams. These exams are formal assessments that help college-bound students document and demonstrate their knowledge in specific subject areas. Military ACE credit recommendations are the result of an evaluation process that validates formal military training and occupation experiences.

11. Who decides which military courses and occupations should be evaluated?

Each service is represented by a main point of contact (POC), who is designated by the Chief for Voluntary Education to work with ACE Military Programs. This POC is required to submit a proposed schedule of installations/schoolhouses to visit, as well as a list of occupations to review each year. It is the joint decision of the POC and the schoolhouse representative to determine what will be submitted for review by ACE Military Programs. Individual service members cannot submit a course to ACE or request that an individual course or occupation be evaluated. This request must come from the designated POC or schoolhouse representative.

12. What should I do if the college does not accept my ACE recommendations?

If a college has denied your request to transfer your ACE recommendations, you could try to appeal the decision. Every college has an appeal process, which is often described in the college catalog. Find out what documentation you will need to provide and to whom you should direct your appeal. The college may request that you provide additional information about your training, such as a syllabus.

If the college is not familiar with ACE recommendations and transcripts, ACE's Student Resource Center can provide additional information. For further assistance, call the Resource Center's toll-free number at 866-205-6267.

Credit for Prior Learning

1. What is credit for prior learning (CPL)?

No doubt you've had a lot of education beyond the walls of a classroom. Prior learning is learning gained outside the college classroom in a variety of settings and through formal and non-formal means, including:

  • workplace training
  • military training and service
  • independent study
  • professional certifications
  • examinations (national exams such as AP, IB, CLEP, DSST, Excelsior College, and UExcel exams; departmental examinations)
  • civic activities
  • volunteer service

These learning experiences may be equivalent to college-level skills and knowledge and warrant academic credit.

Many colleges evaluate the college-level knowledge and skills an individual has gained outside of the classroom in order to grant college credit. This is called credit for prior learning (CPL), but can also be called experiential learning or prior learning assessment (PLA).

2. What are the benefits of CPL?

Earning college credit through CPL can help you:

  • Save time. It can shorten your time to degree.
  • Save money. Less time to degree can mean lower tuition costs.
  • Accelerate your academic progress. You'll be able to take higher level courses sooner than you otherwise would.
  • Develop your resume. You can demonstrate to employers that your prior learning adds value to your skill set.
  • Gain understanding. You can better grasp the many different ways you learn and how you can apply that learning throughout your life, whether in jobs, the community, or additional schooling.

3. What are some examples of CPL methods?

  • Workforce training: Formal evaluation of workplace training by the college or university you plan to attend or by ACE. The ACE National Guide can show you whether your workplace training has been evaluated for credit by ACE.
  • Military training: Formal evaluation of military occupations and training. Once again, this evaluation would be done either by your college or by ACE. Check out ACE's Military Guide for a detailed list of college credit recommendations for military training.
  • Certifications: Many colleges and universities recognize national certifications that have been developed to meet industry/professional standards and award college credit for students holding these certifications. Use the ACE National Guide to determine if your certifications have ACE Learning Evaluations recommendations.
  • Exams: National examinations, such as CLEP, or challenge exams offered by colleges can also result in college credit (see FAQ #1 above).
  • Portfolio Assessment: In a portfolio, you document the college-level learning you've gained through work and other experiences. You might want to pursue this option if you don’t have formal workplace training or professional certifications. Faculty experts evaluate the portfolio and determine the amount of college credit you would earn. For more information on portfolio assessment programs, visit Learning Counts.

4. What isn't CPL?

CPL awards credit for learning, not credit just for your experience. What is being evaluated for college credit is not your learning experience, but the knowledge you acquired and how that knowledge translates into specific college-level courses.

5. How do different colleges handle CPL?

Individual colleges and universities assess learning and award credit differently. Look for their "transfer of credit" or "credit for prior learning" policies on the web site or course catalog of the college or university you're interested in attending. Their procedures should be clearly stated. A few things to look for:

  • Credit maximum: Different institutions have different policies on the amount of college credit that they will award based on prior learning.
  • Transferability: Not all colleges and universities accept other institution's evaluation of prior learning. If College A awarded you 9 credit hours based on your military training and professional certifications and you decide to transfer to College B, that does not mean College B will recognize those 9 credit hours.
  • Credit by Exam: Find out which exams your institution recognizes for credit. What are the equivalent courses for each exam? What is the maximum number of credits that can be granted? Are there any conditions or prerequisites to earn credit through exam?

Also, keep in mind that colleges use different assessment methods to evaluate prior learning. For example, some colleges may use several options, such as "credit by exams" and ACE Learning Evaluations recommendations for military and workforce training, while others use portfolio assessment. Methods may also vary according to the degree program.

Further, some colleges and universities will award credit for prior learning, while others will waive course requirements. For those that award credit, it might be applied in different ways: sometimes it can be used for elective credit, or to meet a general education requirement, or a requirement for a specific major.

6. What should I look for and what should I avoid?

Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous companies and organizations that advertise "college credit for life experience" that don't deliver on their promises. A few things to watch for as you're looking at different ways to earn credit for your prior learning:

  • Be skeptical of big promises: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Colleges and universities with recognized CPL programs do not award credit for experience alone. You must demonstrate that your experience translates into specific college courses or competencies.
  • Accreditation: When selecting a college or university, make sure it is accredited by an accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Watch out for online "diploma mills," which are unaccredited institutions that offer degrees that are not recognized or accepted by employers and other colleges and universities. A sign that you might be dealing with a diploma mill is if it awards unlimited credit for prior learning (accredited colleges and universities typically state very clearly in their policy the maximum number of CPL credits and transfer credits they will accept). Further, an accredited institution will accept prior learning credits only if they are accompanied by thorough documentation and demonstration of competency. Finally, diploma mills will often require large payments upfront. It's a good idea to compare any program you find to that of a recognized CPL program at an accredited college or university and make sure they require the same rigorous review.
  • Transparency: Look on the web site or course catalog for clearly stated policies regarding CPL acceptance.
  • Make contact: Find a contact person—such as an academic advisor, admissions counselor, or prior learning coordinator—at the institution to talk to directly about your prior learning and how it might translate to college credit.

7. How do I find a CPL program?

  • If you have a college or university in mind, talk to the institution's academic advisor or admissions counselor and ask what type of credit for prior learning they accept (for example, credit-by-exam, ACE credit recommendations workforce and military training, or portfolio).
  • Check out ACE's Student Resource Center. It can help you determine whether you have training or examinations that carry ACE Learning Evaluations recommendations and how to go about getting an ACE transcript. They can also help you find institutions that recognize ACE recommendations.
  • Contact Learning Counts, a program of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning that helps adult learners assess their prior learning through portfolio evaluation.

 The Military Guide

The Military Guide lists ACE credit recommendations for military courses and occupational specialties. Users can search for courses and occupations in the guide, which is updated daily.

The Military Guide

 The ACE National Guide

Discover corporate training, certifications, exams, and alternative educational programs with ACE credit recommendations and validated competencies.

The National Guide