Anyone who has been online in the past five years has likely received an email offering the opportunity to obtain “prestigious” life-experience degrees in less than 10 days. The only prerequisites seem to be a resume and credit card. Are life and work experience degrees legitimate? No, and yes. Many dubious institutions market heavily online, but, there are some legitimate, accredited colleges that offer part, most, or all their degree by life experience.

Charter Oak State College

In addition to a competitive cost per credit, Charter Oak State College in New Britain, Connecticut, provides a fast track to completing a degree by recognizing credits already earned from other accredited institutions regardless of when earned. Their only residency requirement is a three-credit capstone experience. COSC offers tests for students to demonstrate what they have learned through their life/work experience. If no test is available in a student’s area of expertise, the school can arrange a portfolio assessment to document prior learning using a combination of narrative, certifications, and CEUs. COSC has many degree concentrations.

Charter Oak State College 55 Paul J. Manafort Drive New Britain, CT 06053 860-832-3800

Excelsior College

Excelsior College in Albany, New York, offers 51 different exams in the arts and sciences, nursing, education, and business. Several of these exams carry upper-level credit. Excelsior works with students that have a great deal of work/life experience through Portfolio Assessment. You can earn an undergraduate degree through credit portfolio and exams. Students may complete any classes still needed online at their own pace. Excelsior offers degree programs in nursing, health science, liberal arts, and business and technology.

Excelsior College 7 Columbia Circle Albany, NY 12203-5159 888-647-2388

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Thomas Edison State College

Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey, provides several ways for students to earn credit toward an undergraduate degree. Student may use any combination of prior learning portfolio, testing, on-line courses, prior military training, transfer credits, proof of various licenses and certifications, and guided independent study. TESC has several programs to work with the unique needs of experienced adult learners. TESC has degree programs in many fields.

Thomas Edison State College
101 W. State St. Trenton, NJ 08608-1176

Western Governors University

While not specifically offering degrees by work experience, Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah, has a reputation for academic rigor and competency-based education. The school allows students to proceed through their studies by demonstrating attained skills rather than completing courses. Program features include self-directed study, mentoring and academic support, and accelerated study for students who enroll with previous knowledge and skill. Students pay for their time enrolled in school, rather than by credit hours. This allows those who demonstrate mastery in their field quickly to pay less. WGU offers programs in health administration, education, and business.

Western Governors University 4001 South 700 East, Suite 700 Salt Lake City, UT 84107-2533 801-274-3280

About the Author

Andrew Ferreira has been writing since 1992 and his work has appeared in "MUM," "MAGIC" and "Good News" as well as online. He is a family life pastor and life coach living in southern Maine. Ferreira has a Bachelor of Arts in literature and writing and a Master of Ministry in pastoral ministry.