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How to Earn College Credits Online for the Work Experience You Have

Drexel University School of Education

Many universities offer a repertoire of lecture and online courses that provide students with flexible options to earn credits at a pace that is tailored to their needs. As part of this curriculum, in some instances it is also possible to earn college credits for work done in your chosen field. In Drexel Unviersity's School of Education, college credit for work experience is determined by the faculty and staff of each individual academic program.

The process used to transfer work experience into college credits primarily evaluates if the experience involves hands-on learning within a student’s chosen major or related area of study. The work must be relevant to a student’s future academic and professional path and will be evaluated by a professional in the field. A member of the college faculty should determine if the quality of the work examined is equivalent to college-level learning.

Some examples of programs that are eligible for converting work experience into college credits include:

  • Seminars
  • In-service training
  • Volunteer work in the community
  • Research
  • Military training

Pros and Cons of Using Work Experience for College Credits

Whether you are working towards a Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree, it can often be difficult to balance the rigor of college courses and the demands of a busy lifestyle. However, prior or current work experience may be able to translate to college credits. Yet, there are certain positives and certain drawbacks to using work experience for college credits.

 You can gain immediate, hands-on experience relevant to your career path.  It may take longer than traditional college classes to earn credits
 You are able to learn at your own pace.  Students may miss out on theoretical learning in pursuit of practical learning
 Courses used to transfer work experience into credit typically cost less than traditional college courses. (As of 2018, the average cost of one credit hour at U.S. universities is nearly $600.)   Students who opt to exchange work experience for college credits may miss out on a more traditional college experience. They may be at a disadvantage when it comes to building relationships and networking with professors, peers, and fellow students.

Academic advisors are available to help you determine how to transform college credit into work experience if you are an undergraduate or a graduate student. There are several ways that schools evaluate work experience for college credit:

  • Assessment of Prior Learning - the evaluation used by colleges to determine if work experience that has already been earned is on-par with college-level learning.
  • Individualized Credit by Evaluation – a faculty member can administer an individualized evaluation by use of a portfolio to conclude if a student’s work experience demonstrates the skills necessary for college-level learning in a particular subject area.
  • Standardized Examinations – tests typically taken after independent study to assess if levels of college caliber learning have been mastered. Some of these tests include:
    • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
    • Thomas Edison College Examination Program (TECEP)
    • Dantes Subject Standardized Tests (DSST)
    • Excelsior College Examinations (ECE)

These examinations assess and verify learning in a range of traditional and vocational subject areas that include mathematics, humanities, natural sciences, social studies, business, management, technology, and education.

Learn How You Can Earn College Credits with Your Work Experience

The Drexel University School of Education currently does not have a specific policy that grants credit for work experience, but students can contact their advisor or program director to see if any of the options mentioned here or an alternate method can be used to review prior work experience and determine if it is applicable to qualify for course credit.

Advisors and program directors make these determinations on a case-by-case basis to determine if the learning that was acquired during a period of work experience is equivalent to the rigor of college-level learning.

In order to shape your own education program, it is important to develop and maintain frequent communication with your advisor. Academic advisors in the undergraduate program guide students to the necessary resources and processes required for transforming work experience into college credit. Advisors can also assist you in pacing your program in terms of both duration and financial planning.

For more information on converting work experience into course credit, schedule an academic advisor appointment or access additional resources.