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 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. As an example, one of my sons studied cybersecurity by taking free online courses through Texas A&M University’s Extension program. There was no cost to us, and after he finished all 10 courses, I awarded him 1 high school credit in Cybersecurity, and ACE awarded him 6 college credits. Texas A&M doesn’t award college credit for these courses, just ACE credit, so when he eventually attends college, these may not “count” towards his degree. Either way, they were free and allowed him to learn something using a great resource!

Partnerships: To successfully use ACE-evaluated products to the fullest, 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 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.


ACE put out a press release early 2020 about a shift toward free electronic transcripts! We love free, and this shift moves their transcript service to an outside company. Updates will continue as new information is learned about this new program and process.


They were slow on the roll out (didn’t happen in January likely due to Covid-19) but we now can expect this new opportunity will be in effect by November 2020.


Digital Credentials

​Beginning in November 2020, all CREDIT endorsed courses and exams will be verified through a badge on the Acclaim digital credential platform. Participating organizations are currently transitioning to the new system and several are already offering these enhanced credentials. You can share these badges for free on social media as well as download free transcripts for your own use. Free digital transcripts can also be sent securely to schools if you have the name and email address for delivery. When you complete your course or exam, you’ll be sent an email invitation to claim your badge. After accepting the badge, you can create an account on Acclaim and use that account to order future transcripts without further approvals. If you’ve completed a course or exam but have not received an invitation email with your badge, please contact your provider for more information.​If you have additional concerns or questions, you may contact the Resource Center.

ACE transcripts are currently ordered through the ​ACE Transcript Registry System until October 2020. When you request a transcript, the provider of the course will approve the request before it is sent. Your first transcript order costs $20, and each subsequent order costs $15. In order to request a transcript, you’ll need to have information about the courses you’ve taken and dates you completed them, as well as where and to whom you’d like the transcript sent.