The Many Ways to Earn Credit for College
High school students and adult learners can earn college credit while in high school or through prior learning through life experiences in multiple ways.
Most Minnesota high schools provide credit-earning opportunities where students earn college credit by taking a college-level course (dual credit) or a college-level exam (exam-based credit). These programs are often referred to by their common names, such as PSEO, College in the Schools, College Now, AP, and IB, among others.
Adult students earn prior learning through life experience credit for what they have learned through independent study, noncredit courses, work experience, portfolio demonstration, previous licensure or certification, or completion of other learning opportunities (government or professional). Many colleges and universities determine eligibility for this type of credit by administering Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs). Additionally, exam-based programs such as CLEP offer both high school and adult students the opportunity to earn college credit for what they already know.
Things to know:
- Not all dual credit and exam-based credit programs are available at all high schools.
- 100% of Minnesota colleges and universities surveyed award college credit for dual credit.
- Over 95% of colleges and universities award college credit for exam-based programs.
- 45% of colleges and universities award World Language Seals credit.
- Not all colleges or universities offer credit for prior learning through life experiences.
- 81% of Minnesota colleges and universities accept military credit and 46% for military occupations if the student's experience meets the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendation.
- 61% of colleges and universities award credit for prior learning through life experiences.
- 3% of colleges and universities award credit for GED® College Ready +.
Dual credit and exam-based programs often require a minimum grade point average or exam score to participate. Check with your school counselor or reach out to one of the primary contacts in the table below from your preferred college or university to see if you are eligible to participate in these programs.
Dual credit and exam-based credit programs include:
- Concurrent Enrollment allows high school students to take college-level courses at their high school through partnerships between high schools and colleges. Students earn both high school and college credit by passing the class. In addition "concurrent enrollment," these programs are sometimes called College in the Schools, CEP, or College Now.
- Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) is a program that allows Minnesota high school juniors and seniors to enroll in college courses on campus or online. Students earn both high school and college credit by passing the class. Sophomores can also participate in PSEO if they first take and pass one CTE course.
- International Baccalaureate (IB) is a two-year pre-college diploma program that helps prepare students age 16 to 19 for higher education in the United States and overseas through a combination of course-taking and test-taking. Students have the opportunity to earn college credit by receiving a passing score on the IB subject exam, as determined by the college.
- Advanced Placement (AP) allows high school students to take college-level courses at their high school with the potential to earn college credit by receiving a passing score on the AP subject exam, as determined by the college.
- College Level Examination Program (CLEP) allows students to earn college credit by taking exams for what they already know. Students can submit their scores to a college or university and receive college credit based on their scores, if the college accepts CLEP scores. There are no classes that students take to help them prepare for these exams; students register and take tests independently.
- World Language Seals and Certification is a program where college credit is awarded by colleges and universities for K-12 world language proficiency. The assessment of proficiency levels and the award of seals and certificates is the responsibility of high schools.
- Many colleges and universities award college credit for standardized proficiency examinations administered and scored by nationally recognized third-party assessment organizations. These include, but are not limited to, GED® College Ready + Credit; Cambridge International examinations; DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST); Excelsior College UExcel examinations; The National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) assessments; New York University Foreign Language Proficiency (NYUFLP) examinations; and Thomas Edison College Examination Program (TECEP).
Prior learning through life experience credit programs include:
- Credit for Prior Military Training and Occupations is postsecondary credit granted by institutions to military service members or veterans for military courses and occupations gained while in the service.
- Prior Learning Through Life Experiences allows adult students to earn college credit for what they have learned through independent study, noncredit adult courses, work experience, portfolio demonstration, previous licensure or certification, or completion of other learning opportunities (government or professional).
Do All Colleges and Universities Accept These Credits?
Not all colleges and universities award credit for participating in dual credit programs, exam-based programs, or for prior learning through life experiences. Credit acceptance can sometimes depend on the type of class, the student's test scores, and the college or university the student chooses. Students need to check with their high school counselor or college staff to ensure that the credits or experience will transfer. Use the table below to better understand of what colleges accept.
How to use the table below?
- Start by selecting a program tab. Scroll right to see additional tabs.
- Un-check the "All" buttons under "Institutions" and "Test Subject".
- Then select one or more institutions and tests.
The PSEO/Concurrent Enrollment, Exam-Based Credit, Military Training, and Prior Learning Through Life Experiences tabs will show you if the selected schools accept award credit for these experiences. Links to institutional policies are included on this tab.
The AP, IB, CLEP, GED® College Ready + Credit, and World Language Seals tabs will show you what test scores are required by the college to receive credit and how much college credit they will award for each passing test.
The Contact Information tab will direct you to the best person to contact at each college or university if you have additional questions.
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