College Credit for Military Service & Experience

Photo by Sgt. Scott Schmidt

Active-Duty and Veterans can receive college credit for military service and save time and money at the same time. Many colleges and universities provide military transfer credit for military experience via participation through ACE (American Council on Education). ACE collaborates with the Department of Defense (DoD) to extensively review military training and experiences in order to recommend appropriate course credit to member schools. ACE then works extensively with these member institutions to educate them on translating prior military learning experiences into college credit.

Receiving college credit for military service is a great benefit but the amount of credit received can often fall below expectations. There are many factors that can contribute to this but here are the most common:

  • The desired area of study or program is different than their MOC (Military Occupation Code).
  • Military experience or training is determined to be duplicate and applied to the same transfer credit recommendation.
  • Most ACE credits typically only apply to lower level, free elective coursework such as associates degree level classes.
  • Typically very few credits apply toward core requirement, upper level course work.
  • The institution’s transfer credit policies are not transparent.
  • Ultimately colleges determine the military college credits they will accept and how they will be applied to a specific degree.
  • Colleges don’t always follow the ACE recommendations or they may interpret them differently from one school to the next.

How to maximize military service for college transfer credits

  • Review your military transcript and ACE recommendations for courses and occupations.
  • Seek a degree that is aligned closely with your MOC.
  • Determine the school’s policy on accepting military college credits. Admissions counselors or college websites typically can provide this information.
  • Seek out schools that have good veterans programs or determine how military friendly your choices are.
  • Speak to several schools. Colleges interpret military training credits differently and can apply credits differently for the same degree program and military experience. The decisions may be very different!
  • Appeal any adverse decisions on military transfer credits. Successful appeals do happen.
  • Don’t enroll before the school determines your military transfer credits.

Service members or Veterans should request a military transcript as a first step.

Military Education and Experience Systems (includes Guard & Reserves by branch):

  • Air Force – The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF)
  • Army – AARTS System
  • Coast Guard – The Coast Guard Institute (CGI)
  • Marines – SMART System
  • Navy – SMART System

Veterans can access these systems unless they are not eligible. If the Veteran is not eligible they should complete the DD-295 and provide their DD-214 Discharge Document in order to receive college credit for military service.

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