Life experience degrees… we have all heard of them. But do they really exist?

Yes and no. 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 credit by examination, military training credit, and portfolio credit.

Most individuals interested in gaining credit for life experience use the portfolio credit method. Using this method, colleges and universities evaluate your life experience, professional training and certifications, and so on. For example, if you are a small business owner, you may be able to get management and accounting credit, depending on your institution. If you are a human resources manager and have had formal management training, you might be able to receive portfolio credit as well.

Important considerations

  • Carefully compare programs; all portfolio credit programs are not created equal
  • Colleges and universities vary in their treatment of CLEP exams. Review your college’s CLEP policies to find out what exams you may take, the scores you must receive to earn credit, and any applicable deadlines/requirements.
  • Never assume that your credit will transfer to another university. If you plan to transfer, check with that institution to see if they will honor credit for life experience awarded by another university.
  • Certain colleges and universities do not always award portfolio credit, but they will accept portfolio credit awarded by another university
  • Ensure that the institution you plan on attending is regionally-accredited

Listed below are ten colleges and universities currently offering some form of credit for life experience:

1. Dallas Baptist University
2. University of Wisconsin
3. Columbia College
4. University of Massachusetts – Amherst
5. Champlain College
6. Central Texas College
7. Western New England College
8. Liberty University
9. Malone College
10. Western Governors University

If you feel that you have experience for which you should receive credit, then make that one of your criteria in selecting an online college. It will save you time and money!