Higher education is essential to pursuing certain career paths and brings with it many advantages, such as increased earnings and advancement. Unfortunately for some, higher education is time-consuming and too costly. All too often, students must pause courses because of work and family obligations. Life becomes overwhelming, and some are unable to finish their studies. Having the ability to use previous studies or learned skills encourages adult students to resume higher education.
Plenty of colleges and universities work with continuing students to find the right degree program to complement their existing course credits and accept a certain number of transfer credits and exams. One such institution is Excelsior College, which has generous transfer credit policies. But does it accept CLEP exams?
What Are CLEP Exams?
The College-Level Examination Program, or CLEP, offers 34 exams that cover introductory level college course material. One passing score on a CLEP exam can earn a student three or more college credits at more than 2,900 U.S. colleges and universities.
CLEP helps students with previous knowledge in a college course earn a higher education degree efficiently and economically. Prior learning can be through advanced high school courses, independent study, online courses, non-credit courses, or on-the-job training. CLEP began in 1967 as a way for adult students and military service members to affordably earn degrees while maintaining the demands of work and family responsibilities.
The exam consists of multiple choice questions and takes 90 to 120 minutes to complete, depending on the exam subject. More than 2,000 CLEP test centers across the country offer exams year-round, and test-takers receive their scores immediately after the exam. Most CLEP exams are designed to correspond to one-semester courses, though some tests correspond to full-year or two-year courses. Faculty from individual colleges review the exams against the material covered in their corresponding courses to ensure an appropriate similarity.
The current CLEP exams offered by the College Board are divided into five categories: composition and literature, world languages, history and social sciences, science and maths, and business. Students who choose to take CLEP exams can graduate earlier, because earned and accepted credits can reduce time to graduation by six weeks to 10.5 months for associate and bachelor’s degrees.
By using existing knowledge, degree-seekers can save money and move to more advanced coursework sooner. Given the average cost of a single course at a four-year institution, the minimal exam fee can save students thousands of dollars. CLEP exams are especially helpful when it comes to testing out of core requirements so that students can advance to coursework that’s directly related to their chosen degree program.
Even though CLEP is sponsored by the College Board, only colleges have the ability to grant credit toward a degree. Not every college has the same CLEP policies, so it’s best for students to confirm with their college or university if the CLEP exam subject will be accepted, and if the exam will fulfill a degree requirement.
Excelsior College is a nonprofit, regionally accredited online institution that helps adult students earn associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. All of the 30-plus degree programs are within three schools: the School of Undergraduate Studies, the School of Graduate Studies, and the School of Nursing. Excelsior College accepts transferred college exam credits that are administered through military, educational, and certification agencies. CLEP exams are accepted by Excelsior for General Examinations and Subject Examinations, though they carry lower level credit. The course catalog outlines the minimum grade for credit on a CLEP exam and how many credit hours a student can be awarded.
image credit: Exams via Africa Studio/Shutterstock