10 Online colleges offering credit for life experience

Many reputable colleges and universities allow you to earn credit for life experience. They do not, however, allow you to earn your entire degree through life experience. Only diploma mills make those kinds of promises!

How credit is awarded and assigned varies widely by university, but there is always a specific limit to the number of alternative credits you may earn toward your degree. Most of the colleges listed below offer a combination of portfolio credit, credit by examination (CLEP, etc.), and military experience/training credit.   

Important considerations:

  1. All portfolio credit programs are NOT created equal. Some colleges, like Columbia College, have stringent requirements. Central Texas College, on the other hand, simply asks for a page or two description of your experience with supplemental proof.
  2. Never assume that your credit will transfer to another university. Always double check with the admissions department where you plan to transfer. 
  3. Certain programs like Champlain (below) do not always award portfolio credit, but they will accept portfolio credit awarded by another university that has been added to your transcript.

Online colleges offering credit for prior learning

Every institution in this list is regionally accredited, a must for any online degree program.

Dallas Baptist University
Portfolio credit
Credit by examination
Military credit

University of Wisconsin
Credit for Military Experience
Credit for Training Programs
Credit for Specific Subject Examinations
Credit for Work and Life Experience
Credit by Test Out
CLEP examinations
Vocational-Technical College Transfer Credits

Columbia College
Credit for Prior Learning (Portfolio credit)
ACE accredited corporate courses
Excelsior exams
ACT
CLEP Exams
Certified Professional Secretary Program
Defense Language Proficiency Tests
DANTES
International Baccalaureate
Basic Law Enforcement and Corrections Training
Military Service & Training
MU Fire & Rescue Training Institute
Pilot’s License

University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Information is located on the University Without Walls portion of the Amherst website. Credit for life experience applicants must complete a rigorous process to receive credit.

Champlain College
External credentials
Challenge exams
CLEP exams
Will accept portfolio credits added to your transcript at another university.
“May” offer some life experience credits for certain programs
Military training and education

Central Texas College
Portfolio evaluation
CLEP
Military training and education

Western New England College
May award up to 30 credit hours of portfolio credit through its partnership with Charter Oak State College. See WNEC’s website for more details as requirements vary.
CLEP exams
Military education and experience
Experience evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE)

Liberty University
Portfolio assessment (Credit for life experience)
CLEP exams

Malone College
Portfolio credit

Western Governors University
WGU does not offer actual credit for life experience, but they will let you waive certain courses in order to finish your degree faster. Here’s an excerpt from their site to explain the process: WGU’s competency-based approach lets you take advantage of your knowledge and skills, regardless of how you learned them. Even when you don’t directly receive credit, the knowledge you possess may help you accelerate the time it takes to complete your degree program.

For more information about specific colleges offering online degrees, visit my Online College Review posts.

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Related posts:

  1. Life experience and online learning
  2. Illustrative example of how online learning credits may be awarded
  3. CLEP exams save time and money
  4. Life experience degrees

Top Online College Degree Programs

Kaplan University - Associate's, Bachelor's, & Master's Degrees. Considered a top online college, Kaplan University offers students affordable and convenient online classes. Kaplan University is an accredited university that provides students the education to become successful professionals upon graduation.
Saint Leo University - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. At Saint Leo University, students have the opportunity to achieve their lifelong and educational goals. The university provides students with academic and industry professionals who are highly educated in their field of expertise and are willing to share that knowledge with the students at Saint Leo.
American InterContinental University - Associate's , Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. With campuses located around the world, American InterContinental University has been educating students for over 35 years. AIU offers flexible and interactive programs that assist the students in graduating at their own pace.
Walden University - Bachelor's, Master's, & Doctorate Degrees. Walden University is dedicated in ensuring students receive the education they need to advance in their careers. Their programs are convenient and effective, providing working students with the flexibility they need.
Colorado Technical University - Associate's, Bachelor's, & Master's Degrees. By designing their programs to meet the changing needs of today's world, Colorado Technical University prepares students for a career in the most competitive industries. Additionally, they offer accelerated and flexible programs to allow students to enter the professional world sooner than traditional programs.
Keiser University - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. For over 35 years, Keiser University has provided student-centered, quality career education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions. Degrees are offered with a curriculum that is in pace with technology and workforce demand trends in business, criminal justice, healthcare and computer technology.
Full Sail University - Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. Full Sail uses the experience and knowledge gained from more than three decades of educational innovation to create an unparalleled online education experience that challenges and inspires our students.
Post University - Associate's, Bachelor's & Master's Degrees. Post University is a premiere destination for students in obtaining their college degree online. Post University offers a dynamic curriculum to every student and are taught by the very best professors in their field of study.