Penn State University has announced that a new online tool can help military service members and veterans looking to see how their experiences in the military can translate into credits toward a Penn State degree.
The university has launched the Transfer Credit Tool to find out how their military educational experiences may gain them Penn State credit instead of going through a lengthier transcript review process.
“While Penn State has always accepted some military experience for credit, this new process will allow service members and veterans to see how those experiences translate to college credit and may accelerate their path to graduation,” said Michele Rice, director of the Office of Prior Learning Assessment.
Typically, when a student wishes to have an experience from a prior institution assessed for Penn State credit, they must submit syllabi and other materials to the Undergraduate Admissions Office to begin the process of having the experience evaluated to see how it aligns with the Penn State curriculum. Service members and veterans now won’t have to go through this process for their military experience because the reviews have already been completed by Penn State faculty. These prospective students only have to submit their military transcripts, said university officials.
Military experience is becoming increasingly recognized as worthy of college credit, both at Penn State and across the nation, explained Rice. She said she began researching the national landscape of military credits several years ago and found that few colleges and universities in the U.S. provided more than a handful of general credits. Now that norm is shifting, she said, to one where military experience is being awarded in general education domains and even direct equivalent courses.
Penn State already awards a significant number of credits every year for military experience, and Rice said she expects that the new, more streamlined process will push these numbers even higher. According to the most recent data available from the fall 2018 semester, the top source of external credits among Penn State students came from the Community College of the Air Force with 1,438 total credits. Harrisburg Area Community College was second on the list with 1,211 credits. In that same fall semester there were a total of 3,132 veterans enrolled, and 2,041 of them had prior learning experience.
To make military credits accessible in the Transfer Credit Tool, the Office of Prior Learning Assessment has been working with faculty reviewers and the Undergraduate Admissions Office to evaluate experiences in all U.S. military service branches. This process asked panels of faculty from all campuses at Penn State to review the American Council on Education’s analyses of thousands of military job classifications and training experiences.
Over the course of the last year, Penn State has evaluated for credit 1,188 Army experiences, 1,031 from the Navy, 177 from Coast Guard, 287 from the Marine Corps and 13 from the Department of Defense. The Air Force is tracked as the Community College of the Air Force.