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DANTES Credit-by-Exam for Military Personnel

Posted : Thursday January 1, 1970
Created by: MSG Randall High, U.S. Army (ret)

Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) is an organization managed by the Department of Defense (DoD). According to the Army's official website, DANTES was created to support the DoD's voluntary, non-traditional education programs. Through DANTES and their local Education Services Office, servicemembers can find creative ways to advance their education while they serve.

Earning a degree not only gives you the skills you need to excel in the Army or to officership, but makes your transition to the civilian career world much easier.
Whatever your MOS, you've earned valuable skills and career training in the Army that could lead to military advancement and a solid civilian career after your separation.
Want to start earning credit toward a college degree for free, without enrolling in classes?

Earn your degree faster with CLEP, DSST and ECE exams

Did you know you can earn college credit without enrolling in a class? You've received a tremendous amount of career training while serving the Military, and many popular MOSs can translate into good civilian jobs down the road. Don't waste time repeating the same material in a college classroom when you could receive the same credit by simply taking a test.

DANTES: What is non-traditional education?

Most people pursuing higher education follow a traditional route, namely reporting to classrooms for face-to-face teacher instruction. Non-traditional education, however, is learning achieved outside of the classroom, including online, via mail or through examination.

The major benefit of non-traditional education is that it allows servicemembers to advance their educations in preparation for transition or even officership while they serve. In some cases, the civilian education units earned through DANTES-supported program can be transformed into promotion points.

DANTES' primary support programs include:

DANTES helps active duty and veteran soldiers earn degrees

The defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) is the branch of the Department of Defense that regulates most military educational assistance programs. Created to help servicemembers earn their degrees or certificates while serving, DANTES hosts a number of education resources to make the transition to the civilian workforce smoother. Among the most popular is Credit-by-Exam.

Graduate Faster with DANTES's Credit-by-Exam

Credit-by-exam refers to the process by which servicemembers and their spouses can earn civilian college credit through tests rather than traditional classroom work. DANTES offers soldiers study resources for a number of common standardized tests-such as the SAT, GRE, GMAT, but also covers the following:

  • DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST)
  • College Level Exam Program (CLEP)
  • Excelsior College Exam (ECE)

These three exams allow servicemembers to take tests in a variety of different college subjects, from information systems to business. If the exams are passed, college credit for that subject can be earned from thousands of participating colleges and career schools. In other words, servicemembers can actually earn college credit for skills they learn while serving their country, without ever having to attend a class.

Note that each program provides exams in a wide variety of subjects. Only DSSTs are military-managed, the CLEP and ECE programs are civilian-run. In all cases, DANTES typically administers, provides study resources or provides financial assistance for these exams. Interested servicemembers can contact their local Education Services Office to learn more about credit-by-exam and program eligibility.

The CLEP, DSST and ECE Exams for Military Personnel

While the CLEP, DSST and ECE differ in some respects, all were designed to help those with career training-like that honed in the military-earn their degrees or certificates faster. Though only the DSST tests are designed specifically for military personnel, DANTES provides study resources, information and funding for CLEP and ECE. What's more, spouses and dependents of those who serve in the reserve forces may be eligible for the same benefits. Visit the following features to learn more about each exam.

What is it? College Level Exam Program Credit-by-Exam DANTES Subject Standardized Tests Credit-by-Exam Excelsior College Exams Credit-by-Exam
Who qualifies? Anyone, but DANTES covers all but small registration fee for soldiers, civilian employees and some military spouses. Anyone, but designed with military personnel in mind. Anyone, but DANTES covers full cost for active soldiers.
Credit toward? Courses/Degrees Courses/Degrees Courses/Degrees
Nursing Certification
Teacher Certification
Cost? Free to Soldiers About $70 Free to Soldiers
Subjects (Broad) Social Science
Information Systems
Computer Applications
Business Law
Art & Science
Accepted? 2,900 schools nationally Thousands of schools Hundreds of schools

DANTES' distance-learning program

DANTES' Distance-Learning Program helps servicemembers find college coursework from military-friendly civilian schools that can be completed online. All credits earned can be applied toward a civilian degree or certification, depending on career goals. To find out what courses are available, servicemembers should visit their local Education Services Office to review these DANTES-maintained catalogs:

  • DANTES Independent Study Catalog, which lists thousands of high school and college level courses offered by regionally accredited institutions.
  • DANTES External Degree Catalog, which lists certificate-, undergraduate-, graduate-, and post-graduate- level courses from institutions offering minimal residency requirements--an important consideration for servicemembers on the move.
  • DANTES Catalog of Nationally Accredited Distance Learning Programs, which lists courses and degree programs from nationally accredited schools and colleges.

The Military Evaluations Program

The Military Evaluations Program is a DANTES service that helps servicemembers transform their service and education into college credits. They can determine how much credit their experience is worth through the Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services. Because this guide is managed by the American Council on Education, it is also known as the ACE Guide. To get started, enlisted soldiers should request their military transcripts through AARTS, then visit their local Education Services Offices to determine eligibility.

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Program

The SOC program is a DANTES-managed program that serves as a liaison between soldiers pursuing higher education and colleges. Basically, this program facilitates the transfer and acceptance of military credits to civilian schools with minimal residency requirements. Servicemembers can learn more here: Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges: Learn How They'll Save You Time and Money.

The DANTES Certification Program

The DANTES Certification Support Program helps Servicemembers access credentialing exams in a variety of disciplines, including: technology, human resource management, emergency medical technology, automotive services and more. Servicemembers who pass these exams can become certified in their occupational specialty, which can boost civilian employment and salary prospects beyond separation. As of 2011, DANTES maintains nearly 60 partnerships with nationally recognized certification associations. As with other DANTES-supported education programs, interested servicemembers can learn more through the local Education Services Offices.

Additional Support Services Provided by DANTES

The above programs support servicemembers' efforts to advance their educations through non-traditional means, but there are a number of additional DANTES services that can help them achieve their goals:

  1. Financial aid, scholarships, and student loan counseling for servicemembers and their spouses
  2. The Troops to Teachers Program, which helps servicemembers considering civilian careers as public school teachers assess education and credentialing requirements
  3. Study materials for exams and courses
  4. Additional counseling with respect to other military education benefits, such as the Montgomery GI Bill or Tuition Assistance

Servicemembers should visit their Education Services Offices to learn more about DANTES, its programs or any additional military education services available to them.



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