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3 Diploma Programs that Turn Test Scores and Life Experience into College Credit

How You Can "Test Out" of College and Earn a Regionally Accredited Degree

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Are you passed up for promotions because you don't have a degree, even though you know more than any college graduate in your field? If you have demonstrable knowledge and life experience, you can earn a diploma by enrolling in a nontraditional credit program. Three regionally accredited schools offer students the chance to bypass months or even years of study by demonstrating what they already know. Unlike diploma mills, these legitimate programs require that students prove what they know through rigorous testing and make up any remaining credits by enrolling in distance learning courses.

Here's how it works: You choose a major and send in your transcripts as well as a description of your life experience. The college evaluates your transcripts and helps you put together a plan to earn a college diploma. You complete your diploma by taking exams, demonstrating your life experience knowledge, and completing additional coursework.

Nontraditional credit programs are a good choice for self-motivated adult learners who have many years of experience and strong test-taking skills. Generally, these programs should be avoided by recent high school graduates. Some very motivated learners have been able to earn a degree almost completely by taking tests in a very short period of time. However, most people cannot pass all of the required subject matter exams without dedicating a lot of time to independent study.

If earning nontraditional credit sounds like a fit for your life, consider one of these three regionally accredited programs:


Thomas Edison State College

Accredited by: The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

You can complete a college degree from Thomas Edison State College by:
  • Transferring credit earned at other colleges with regional accreditation
  • Transferring credit from workplace courses that have been approved by the American Council on Education
  • Transferring credit from military service schools that have been approved by the American Council on Education
  • Transferring credits earned for professional licenses and certificates
  • Taking Thomas Edison online courses
  • Taking Thomas Edison guided study courses (traditional correspondence courses with email support)
  • Passing TECP subject matter examinations
  • Demonstrating life experience through a prior learning assessment

Excelsior College

Accredited by: The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

You can complete a college degree from Excelsior College by:
  • Transferring credit earned at other colleges with regional accreditation
  • Transferring credit from workplace courses that have been approved by the
  • American Council on Education
  • Transferring credit from military service schools that have been approved by the American Council on Education
  • Transferring credits earned for professional licenses and certificates
  • Taking Excelsior online courses
  • Taking Excelsior instructor-led CD courses
  • Passing Excelsior College Exams
  • Passing CLEP or DANTES exams
  • Demonstrating life experience through a portfolio assessment

Charter Oak State College

Accredited by: The New England Association of Schools and Colleges

You can complete a college degree from Charter Oak State College by:
  • Transferring credit earned at other colleges with regional accreditation
  • Transferring credit from workplace courses that have been approved by the
  • American Council on Education
  • Transferring credit from military service schools that have been approved by the American Council on Education
  • Taking Charter Oak's online courses
  • Passing CLEP or DANTES exams
  • Demonstrating life experience through a portfolio assessment
  • Completing independent study "contract learning"
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  5. Nontraditional Credit
  6. Life Experience College Credit Diploma Programs

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