Veterans, active military can now use Penn State's credit database


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Military service members and veterans looking to attend Penn State can now use an online tool to see how their experiences in the military can translate into credits toward a Penn State degree.

For veterans and active military, this means they can search the Transfer Credit Tool to find out how their military educational experiences may gain them Penn State credit instead of going through a lengthier transcript review process.

“While Penn State has always accepted some military experience for credit, this new process will allow service members and veterans to see how those experiences translate to college credit and may accelerate their path to graduation,” said Michele Rice, director of the Office of Prior Learning Assessment.

Typically, when a student wishes to have an experience from a prior institution assessed for Penn State credit, they must submit syllabi and other materials to the Undergraduate Admissions Office to begin the process of having the experience evaluated to see how it aligns with the Penn State curriculum. Service members and veterans now won’t have to go through this process for their military experience because the reviews have already been completed by Penn State faculty. These prospective students only have to submit their military transcripts.

Military experience is becoming increasingly recognized as worthy of college credit, both at Penn State and across the nation, explained Rice. She said she began researching the national landscape of military credits several years ago and found that few colleges and universities in the U.S. provided more than a handful of general credits. Now that norm is shifting, she said, to one where military experience is being awarded in general education domains and even direct equivalent courses.

Penn State already awards a significant number of credits every year for military experience, and Rice said she expects that the new, more streamlined process will push these numbers even higher. According to the most recent data available from the fall 2018 semester, the top source of external credits among Penn State students came from the Community College of the Air Force with 1,438 total credits. Harrisburg Area Community College was second on the list with 1,211 credits. In that same fall semester there were a total of 3,132 veterans enrolled, and 2,041 of them had prior learning experience.

To make military credits accessible in the Transfer Credit Tool, the Office of Prior Learning Assessment has been working with faculty reviewers and the Undergraduate Admissions Office to evaluate experiences in all U.S. military service branches. This process asked panels of faculty from all campuses at Penn State to review the American Council on Education’s analyses of thousands of military job classifications and training experiences.

Over the course of the last year, Penn State has evaluated for credit 1,188 Army experiences, 1,031 from the Navy, 177 from Coast Guard, 287 from the Marine Corps and 13 from the Department of Defense. The Air Force is tracked as the Community College of the Air Force.

Other ways to earn credit

Active military and veterans can also earn Penn State credits through examination and portfolio assessment.

Three of the most popular types of examinations are Advanced Placement (AP), College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST).

CLEP is administered through College Board. Potential students can check here to see the course credit they would receive at Penn State for achieving a recommended score or higher. DSST exams are administered by Prometric. Information on how credit can be earned from DSST can be found here. Advanced Placement credits are still the top type of test credit brought into Penn State, according to the most recent data available. CLEP trailed far behind in second place, with DSST in third place. Faculty also reviewed these exams during the last academic year and provided updated equivalencies that may also accelerate time to graduation.

Potential and current students can also contact an academic college to find the protocol for earning credit by portfolio. This option is essential for academic paths such as the fine arts. Some majors accept a portfolio for learning experiences acquired while working in the discipline, and others will consider them for additional college-level learning. More information on portfolios can be found here.

The Office of Prior Learning Assessment is part of the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at


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