Although many legitimate institutions give academic credit for life and work experiences, beware of institutions that offer college credit and degrees based on life experience, with little or no documentation of prior learning. These institutions do not use valid methods to determine the amount of credit to be awarded. There are many employers, institutions and licensing boards that will question the legitimacy of credit and degrees earned in this way, these organizations will only recognize degrees earned from institutions accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Legitimate institutions offering credit for life or work experiences may use any combination of the following methods to determine how much credit is given: standardized tests, prior learning portfolio, oral exams, past college credit, and professional certification. The amount of credit awarded will vary from institution to institution. At legitimate institutions credit is awarded only if the work experience is equivalent to what would have been taught in a college level course.

Tip: Students should check with other institutions regarding transfer of credit policies to determine if your credits will be accepted by an institution you hope or plan to enroll in.