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
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 University

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

Malone University

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.

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


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