Online Colleges Offering Credit for Work Experience

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Students juggling work and school can turn some of their work experience into college credit, as long as their school allows it. Work/life credits enable students to gain class credits for relevant work experience. Students can earn college credit for work experience through internships, part-time jobs, or even volunteer positions. The following guide details the pros and cons of gaining college credit for work experience and how interested students can pursue it.

What is Work/Life Credit?



Work/life credit allows students to apply their learning experiences outside of the classroom toward their degree requirements. Doing so can help students save money and time by skipping entry-level classes. Depending on the school, students can earn experience from jobs, military service, internships, or volunteer opportunities. Learners who took time off between high school and college can especially benefit from work/life credits.

Students well-versed in specific subject areas can take the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) Exam to qualify for college credit at many institutions. Students can choose from over 30 exams, which they can take online or in-person. However, every school maintains different policies about accepting CLEP credits, so learners should check with their institution.

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Colleges That Offer Credit For Work Experience



The ten schools listed below comprise a few of the top schools offering work/life credits. Students interested in work/life credit should contact their school for information. To learn if a particular college offers work/life credit, students can search for their policies at the CLEP website.

RankUniversity/College
1.Berklee College of Music Online
2.Central Michigan University’s Global Campus
3.Colorado State University’s Global Campus
4.Eastern Kentucky University
5.Linfield College

Questions on Work and Life Experience Credits


  • Q. How much credit can you typically earn from work/life experience?

    Different schools allow different amounts of CLEP credits. The College Board and other testing institutions do not implement limits, however. Students should check with their school for specific rules for gaining college credit for work experience.


  • Q. How long does the process usually take to apply for credits?

    Students who take the CLEP exams can schedule tests whenever they feel ready. Schools receive scores within 2-3 weeks of the test date. The school then starts accepting credits.


  • Q. If you earned work/life experience credits at one college, can you transfer them to another college?

    Transferring credits between schools depends on each institution’s individual policies. Similar to other college credits, a school can accept credits if they are applicable to one of their similar courses. If a school accepts work experience college credits, they should transfer similarly.


Pros of Earning Work/Life Credit



Students who earn college credit for work experience can reap various benefits, including saving time and money on their education. Learners also gain valuable real-world experience. Students interested in pursuing work experience college credits should contact their school to discuss their transfer policy.


  • Students Gain Hands-On Experience

    Work/life credits allow students to gain hands-on experience before college and then turn those experiences into credit. Many schools offer hands-on or experiential learning in addition to classroom education. Hands-on experience provides students with skills and knowledge they can use in the real world. Students who enter college with hands-on experience under their belts will be one step closer to reaching their goals.


  • Students Can Study at Their Own Pace

    Students who earn credits through work/life experience can start college with some or many of their prerequisites completed thanks to the CLEP and the DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST). Skipping prerequisites can give students more time and flexibility in their academic journey. They can either graduate early or study at their own pace since they will likely not need to take a full course load every semester. Work/life experience can also help students learn new skills which they can choose to pursue further in their classes.


  • Students Can Skip Prerequisite Courses

    Students who receive college credit for work experience at their schools can potentially skip prerequisites. For example, a student who passes a CLEP exam in college mathematics might be eligible to receive credit for an introductory-level math course at their school. The student could then pursue more advanced classes sooner rather than take a class that covers materials they’ve already mastered.


  • Students Can Save Money

    A college credit hour at a four-year nonprofit institution cost a median $530 in 2020, assuming 12 credit hours per semester. That means students who gain one semester’s worth of classes through work/life credit could save $6,360. Generally, the less time students spend in school, the more money they will save. Costs like room and board, books, and transportation also add up quickly. So students who take advantage of life experience college credits could save a lot on costs.


How Students Earn Work/Life Credit



Students interested in earning life experience college credits can pursue a few different options. Students should always contact their schools about work/life credits to find out more about their options. Some schools offer internships or volunteer experience for credit. They may also offer the option to create a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) portfolio to display their knowledge and skills. Students can take the CLEP or DSST tests to receive credit in various subjects.

Once degree-seekers receive their test scores, their school can decide whether or not to accept the credit. Students can then apply those credits toward their degree. Learners should talk to their advisor to ensure they meet all of their graduation and major requirements.

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