Understanding ACE Credit (#7-18)

American Council on Education #7–18

Limited Transfer

ACE (American Council on Education) is a third party credit evaluator that evaluates all types of learning that happens outside of a college. Examples like military classes, workplace learning, and non-college providers like Studycom, Sophia, Straighterline, and Saylor Academy just to name a few. If you have a certification or license, it also may be worth college credit – assuming ACE has evaluated it to be. The limited transferability of ACE credit must be emphasized. Just because ACE has evaluated something to be worth college credit doesn’t mean a college will accept it- ACE credit does not transfer well.

What kind of learning gets ACE evaluated? Adult education, workplace development courses, certifications, and businesses specifically developing courses for the home-based student (teen or adult). If you’ve ever happened on a site that offers courses “for college credit” but it wasn’t a college’s website, it’s probably offering college credit via ACE. Many companies offer courses “for college credit” but credit evaluated for worth by ACE means it’s essentially all the same type of credit. Some examples of workplace learning and licenses that are worth college credit include: FAA pilot’s license, some CPR/first aid programs, management programs through McDonald’s restaurant, Jiffy Lube employee e-training, oral foreign language proficiency, Dale Carnegie courses, Microsoft certifications, SCUBA diving courses, and more. There are thousands!

Credit Transfer:  ACE’s website advertises that “over 1,700” colleges participate with ACE, however, to be included on that list, a college might only accept 1 course, or they may have simply agreed to consider your credit. Further, they may be on that list because they issue college credit. In short, the ACE list is inaccurate at best. I estimate that fewer than 200 accredited (regional and national) colleges actually grant credit for ACE coursework for the average person (military exceptions exist).

Cost: Since courses that are ACE evaluated are delivered by businesses that set their own price, there is no single cost of earning ACE credit, but, if you’re not especially picky, you can earn a lot of ACE credit for pennies on the dollar (sometimes free!!!) and that’s not an exaggeration. During the 2020 COVID Pandemic, Sophia dropped the cost of their courses entirely, allowing thousands of Homeschooling for College Credit families to accumulate 30-60 college credits for free!

Curriculum: Limited transfer for college credit is real, but many parents still use ACE products for high school curriculum. For them, ACE courses may provide a low-cost high school curriculum that meets their needs in many ways.

Partnerships: To successfully use ACE-evaluated products, you really have to choose among the partner colleges. These partnership arrangements are set up between the business (ex. Studycom, Sophia, Straighterline, and Saylor Academy) and a college directly (ex. Thomas Edison State University, Charter Oak State College, Excelsior College). Information about partnerships can be found on college websites or ACE-evaluated course provider websites. These are business arrangements as opposed to academic ones, so you’ll want to contact a prospective college directly . . . just to be sure they are as advertised.

Expiration dates: unlike college courses, ACE evaluated courses for college credit have expiration dates. A full-term evaluation lasts 3 years, others may be less. As such, every course and every company in this section does have an expiration date! When an expiration date is approaching, I usually announce that through my blog or Facebook, but you can look these up for yourself on ACE’s website. Expiration dates were left off of these courses because they are constantly changing— but before registering for any course in this section, make sure your teen can complete it before it expires. Expired courses either renew or become extinct. Extinct courses aren’t worth college credit.


Beginning in November 2020, all ACE CREDIT endorsed courses and exams will be verified (recorded on) the new Credly Acclaim digital credential platform. Participating organizations are currently transitioning to the new system and several are already offering these enhanced credentials. When you complete your course or exam, you’ll be sent an email invitation to claim your badge (record your credit).

This will have very little impact on credit earned in 2021 and beyond. Families with ACE college credit earned before November 2020 will have to contact the issuer of their credit and ask for the credit to manually be added to their Credly Acclaim account if they do not do so automatically.

From ACE: “If your credentials are older or the organization that approved them is no longer active with ACE, we may not be able to secure the approvals needed to publish those courses or exams as digital badges.  However, even if you know that the providers you studied with are no longer in operation, it is important to us to know if you still need access to your records so that we can offer assistance. 

Additionally, you may already have been issued badges for recent courses.  If you have received an invitation to accept a badge from Acclaim, click the link inside and make an account to have immediate access to your transcripts.  If all of your courses are there in your dashboard, there is no further action you need to take.  We know that this process has been confusing for students, and we appreciate your patience as we work to modernize our services and provide a life-long digital credential that will always be freely accessible to you. Thank you!”