Can I Get College Credit for Work Experience?

You already know that work experience can help your college application stand out from the others. But did you know that, in addition to strengthening your application, a history of full-time or part-time employment can also help you earn your degree faster?

Regardless of whether you’re an undergraduate, a grad student, a transfer student, or a military student, you may be eligible to apply past experience toward your degree, credential, or certificate. At National University, we make this process streamlined and simple, empowering you to focus on what really matters: getting the absolute most out of your education. 

If you plan on enrolling or transferring to National University and have prior work or military experience, ask our enrollment counselors about how to get credit for your service, your employment history, or your previous coursework. In the meantime, this guide will help you understand the nuts and bolts of how it all works. 

Does Work Experience Count Towards a Degree from NU? 

While most traditional college students often attend college directly out of high school and have little professional experience, many nontraditional undergraduates or graduate students may have already accumulated months or years of work experience. This in-the-field experience may help set you apart from your peers and even help you qualify for additional credits, helping you earn your degree faster. 

In addition, National University’s unique status as a military-friendly school means that a large percentage of our students are active service members or military veterans, joining our student body from diverse backgrounds in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard. 

Read on to learn more about how your employment or military experience can translate to credit toward your degree. 

Earning College Credit for Work Experience 

At National University, we value workplace experience as highly as educational experience. That’s why we allow incoming students to earn as many as 22.5 quarter credits with work experience, which is approximately equivalent to 15 semester credits, toward some of our most popular undergraduate degree programs. 

These programs include:

Each of these programs can be completed on-site or online, depending on whether in-person or distance learning is right for you. 

These programs also afford students additional flexibility in that not only can you earn credits based on your employment experience — you can also receive credit for volunteer work, community service, or even job-related training. To ensure you get the full credit you deserve, make sure to speak with an enrollment counselor from our undergraduate admissions office, who can advise you on how to include work experience in your application. 

Earning College Credit for Military Experience 

For students with military experience, the process of getting college credit is slightly different. For example, you’ll need to start the process by getting a copy of either your CCAF transcript (for Air Force personnel), or your Joint Services Transcript (for personnel of all other U.S. military branches). 

Once you’ve obtained the right transcript — a process that, in most cases, is as simple as creating an account and downloading a file — enrollment advisors will work with you to determine how your experience might carry over to a specific degree. For example, if your military training involved coding or programming, you might be able to earn credit toward a degree in the IT field. 

As a veteran-founded school, NU places a high priority on making sure service members are recognized for their skills and accomplishments. For more information about getting college credit for military experience, reach out to our military admissions office, or explore our FAQs for military students

How Else Can I Earn My Degree Faster? 

If you’re a transfer student, undergraduate, or grad student, here are two methods that can help you get credits or avoid redundant coursework — and ultimately, graduate sooner. 

Method #1: Transfer Your Credits

As of the Fall 2020 quarter, National University has entered into mutual articulation agreements with over 110 community colleges across California, including dozens of institutions within the California Community Colleges (CCC) system. These agreements allow undergraduate transfers to carry over credits with ease — particularly those who have already earned an associate’s degree from a CCC school. 

Through our transfer-friendly bachelor’s degree program — the CCC-Associate Degree for Transfer (CCC-ADT) program — any CCC transfer student who has earned an Associate of Arts (AA) degree, an Associate of Science (AS) degree, or an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) is eligible to fully transfer their degree at the reduced price of just $880 per course, or roughly $7,000 per year. 

For example, a CCC associate’s degree in psychology can be fully applied toward the NU Bachelor of Arts in Psychology or the NU Bachelor of Arts in Sport Psychology, depending on the situation. Meanwhile, graduate transfers are eligible to transfer as many as 13.5 quarter credits, which is equivalent to nine semester credits, or about three courses. 

Keep in mind that the ability to transfer credits is subject to certain conditions, such as the student’s GPA and how recently the previous degree or coursework was completed. For instance, there is a 12-month limitation on the CCC-ADT program. 

Other than transferring credits from prior degree programs, transfer students may also be eligible for military or work experience credits, depending on which program they intend to enter, such as National University’s BS-HSEM program. For the full list of NU degree programs that accept work experience toward credits, scroll up to the section titled “Earning College Credit for Work Experience,” or visit our credit overview page

Method #2: Pass the Credit/Challenge by Exam (CBE) 

Are you already enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at National University? Do you think you have job experience or previous training that might be relevant to your coursework? If you answered yes to both questions, you may wish to consider taking a Credit or Challenge by Examination (CBE), which — if completed successfully —  enables you to either earn credits or waive certain course requirements. So how do these two tests differ? 

The CBE is exclusively available to undergraduate students. If you pass the Credit by Exam, you will earn credit toward your degree, which can help you to graduate earlier. Be advised that the Credit by Exam costs $100, may not be retaken, and must be scheduled in advance, subject to Registrar approval. 

In contrast, the Challenge by Exam is strictly intended for graduate students. While the Challenge by Exam does not count for any additional credits, it does function as a course waiver, allowing you to skip courses you would otherwise be required to complete. Therefore, passing the Challenge by Exam can accelerate your progress through your program. To learn more on this subject, check out our breakdown of course equivalency forms, which explains how course waivers for grad students and credential students work. Keep in mind that the Challenge by Exam costs $50 and, like the Credit by Exam, must be requested and scheduled in advance. 

Ask Our Admissions Office How to Graduate Sooner by Applying Work or Military Experience Toward Your Degree

Depending on factors like which program you’re applying to and what sort of job you performed, you may be able to apply work experience towards your degree, including experience serving in any branch of the U.S. military. You can also transfer recent credits, or potentially earn a course waiver. By putting job or classroom experience toward your degree, you can shave time off your coursework, enabling you to graduate sooner — potentially saving thousands of dollars in the process. 

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