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Creative Ways to Earn College Credit

Demonstrate Your Knowledge in Innovative Ways

Whether you’re starting a new degree program or revisiting one you never quite finished, completing the required number of credits is the only way to earn a degree. But for some, earning credits exclusively in the classroom is not the only path to demonstrating mastery of a subject. They may learn best in less conventional ways, while still obtaining the same deep understanding of the topic. Thankfully for them, there are a number of ways college credits can be earned. Here are just a few:

ACE Credit1

The American Council on Education (ACE) is a trade association that represents all accredited U.S. colleges, and its College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT) will translate approved forms of workplace learning into recommendations for credit that can be applied toward a college education. More than 2,000 colleges and universities around the world consider CREDIT recommendations.

CLEP Exam2

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers tests in 33 subjects. Those who pass an exam are awarded credit that is accepted at over 2,900 colleges and universities in the United States. There are no requirements to take an exam (other than paying the $89 exam fee), so you can turn you experience into credit regardless of how it was gained.

DSST Exams3

DSST exams have traditionally been targeted toward military personnel, but are now common with civilians as well. There are exams in 38 subjects, and the subjects tend to be more focused than those offered in the CLEP exam. This means you can earn college and university credit for your knowledge in more niche areas.

Portfolio Assessment4

For some students, a standardized exam may not be the best way to demonstrate mastery of a subject. One alternative is to turn prior learning into college credit through a portfolio assessment. Students enroll in a portfolio development course and create a portfolio to demonstrate the knowledge and expertise they have gained outside of a classroom. The portfolio is then submitted for credit toward their college degree.

Online Courses

One of the fastest-growing ways to creatively earn college credit is by taking classes through an accredited online college. The benefits are clear: Online classes provide flexibility, which means limited disruption to work, family, and other responsibilities. In fact, 27% of students taking online classes are employed full time.5 Taking classes through an accredited online college also gives students the ability to complete coursework from anywhere with an internet connection—no commute to campus required.

As we have seen, there are numerous creative ways to earn college and university credit beyond sitting in a classroom and taking a final exam. Many universities, like Walden, have resources in place to help students apply this type of credit toward their degree programs. Applying these creative options may even help students save time and money on their education.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering more than 80 degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,