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Transfer and Award Military Credit: The ACE Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services.

By Michele Spires

Since 1945, the American Council on Education (ACE) has provided a collaborative link between the military and higher education. The ACE Military Evaluations program is funded through a contract from the Department of Defense (DoD). Through the review of military training (courses) and experiences (occupations), ACE evaluations result in college credit recommendations for members of the Armed Forces. These credit recommendations are posted to an open source database called the Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services (the Military Guide) located on the ACE website ( This robust database inventories ACE credit recommendations for more than 23,000 courses and 3,400 occupations.

It’s important to understand that the ACE military evaluation is a rigorous, hands-on process conducted by a team of teaching faculty from relevant academic disciplines, representing a diversity of accredited colleges and universities. The team assesses and validates whether the courses or occupations have the appropriate content, scope, and rigor for college credit recommendations. (Actual credit accepted is solely at the discretion of each individual college or university.)

When faculty evaluators conduct these reviews, they are required to collaborate in order to produce a report, called an exhibit, which is then posted in the Military Guide. Over the years, these exhibits have evolved with respect to the level of detail provided. These enhancements reflect change and the direct requests and feedback from academic institutions.

Currently, the Joint Services Transcript (JST) provides a synopsis of the course and occupation credit recommendations and does not include the entire exhibit that the faculty evaluators produced. Therefore, academic institutions are encouraged to review the Military Guide in tandem with the review of the JST in order to obtain additional details.

As a reminder, the JST is an academically accepted document that validates a service member's occupational experience and formal military training along with the corresponding American Council on Education (ACE) college credit recommendations. It is owned and issued by the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard. ACE supplies data that populates the JST and performs quality checks on the transcript, but ACE cannot make changes to this document; only the applicable service representatives are allowed to update information on the document.

Leveraging the Military Guide

All courses reviewed by ACE have a corresponding ACE identification number (ACE ID). The ACE Military Guide can be searched by ACE ID number to view additional data about a course, such as related competencies and learning outcomes. Course ACE ID numbers have two-letter codes that identify the service: AR is Army, NV is Navy, MC is Marine Corps, AF is Air Force, and CG is Coast Guard. The version number for the course is listed to the right of the ACD ID. ACE tracks the history of curriculum changes and credit recommendations for courses with the same ACE ID by using version numbers. The course populates the JST based on when the service member started the course and successfully completed it and aligns it to the exhibit dates covered by the appropriate version.

The same holds true for occupations. All occupations reviewed by ACE have a corresponding ACE identification number (ACE ID). The ACE Military Guide can be searched by ACE ID number to view additional data about an occupation, such as related competencies and learning outcomes. All occupation exhibits have ACE ID numbers beginning with three-letter codes that identify the service:

· MOS means an Army occupation

· NER is a Navy Occupational Specialty

· NEC is a Navy Enlisted Classification

· NWO is a Navy Warrant Officer

· LDO is a Navy Limited Duty Officer

· MCE is a Marine Corps enlisted occupation

· MCO is a Marine Corps Warrant Officer

· CGR is a Coast Guard rating and

· CGW is a Coast Guard Warrant Officer

Recently produced are two short videos on searching the Military Guide. Take a look to learn more:

How to Search Courses

How to Search Occupations

The course exhibit has evolved over time to meet the changing needs of the higher education community. The first course officially evaluated and documented for publication was in 1954. The exhibit content is comprised of the ACE ID; the (military) course title; the (military) course number; location of the training; length of the course in weeks and academic hours; the learning outcomes for the entire course; basic instructional methods; and, finally, the credit recommendations.

In October 2006, higher education institutions requested more clarity with respect to the subject area credit recommendations. That’s when the related competencies were included, along with the other data elements. The purpose of the related competencies was to help colleges and universities align the subject area credit recommendations with the basic core topics of their own institutional courses.

The next iteration of the Military Guide was October 2015, and was carried out to respond to an evolving emphasis on learning expectations and assessment of learning. Higher education institutions requested the exhibit look more like a syllabus. Completely restructured, this exhibit version includes a direct alignment of the learning outcomes to the subject area credit recommendations, inventories the methods of assessment, includes the required individual pass rate for the course, provides an overall course description, and itemizes the methods of instruction. When a course was evaluated will result in the type of exhibit available in the Military Guide.


Transfer and alignment of academic credit is a complex process. It is predicated on the individual college or university’s mission, vision, policy, procedure and protocol. There is no single, standard subject area taxonomy of course content expectations across the more than 2000 accredited institutions that make it a practice to consider ACE credit recommendations. The variance of course content for a management class from one academic institution to another is already a challenging process. It doesn’t get any easier with credit recommendations from military training and experience.

Transfer and award of academic credit is also about learner success, ensuring the individual has the right knowledge, skills, and competencies to receive that credit transfer. Therefore, it is vital that those on individual campuses with the decision-making authority over transfer and award of military credit leverage the Military Guide in order to obtain additional detail and to inform decision policies, processes, and practices.

Michelle Spires is the director, Military Programs, American Council on Education (ACE).

Additional Info

  • Issue: 12
  • Volume: 3
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