Life Experience degrees can be obtained by individuals who have collected a high level of knowledge or skill in their career field. Proponents of these programs argue that these degrees help people to advance their career, particularly in cases where specific post-secondary education is required. There are only three schools that offer Life Experience degrees which are fully accredited by institutions recognized by the US Departmetn of Education – Thomas Edison State College, Excelsior College and Charter Oak State College. However, many other institutions offer degrees that can take as little as five business days

Thomas Edison State College

This New Jersey institution is one of the first schools in the United States specifically designed for adults. Its credit by exam program allows applicants to take a course's final exam without working through the actual course. Its Prior Learning Assessment pairs up students with a mentor to document their expertise in a subject and assess whether they understand the core learning objectives of a course or program. Students can also earn degrees if they have licenses or certifications in certain fields, military training or have taken part in professional training programs in the past.

Excelsior College

Committed to "removing obstacles to the educational goals of the adult learner," this school in Albany, New York offers credit by exam programs in arts and sciences, business, nursing, and education. In its Portfolio-based assessment program, a faculty member assesses an applicant's experience based on employment, community and volunteer work, and other experiences.

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Charter Oak State College

This Connecticut distance learning college provides an affordable option for higher learning applicants, with per-credit fees as low as $200 as of 2011. In the Lifelong Learning Credit Portfolio program, participants spend eight weeks creating a portfolio that presents their work experience, relationships, reading, travel and even hobbies as experience toward a degree. This school doesn’t allow Lifelong Learning Credit Portfolio credits to be used toward degrees in English composition, physical education, graduate-level courses and student teaching.

Ashford University

This online university’s Prior Learning Assessment programs allows participants to apply life experience from employment, workshops and other sources toward up to 75 credits toward a degree. Applicants can provide such submissions as professional training certificates and experiential essays.

Redding University

Offering exclusively life experience degrees, this online college offers associate, bachelor, master and doctorate programs in subjects ranging from divinity to social work. A bachelor's degree, which as of 2011 costs under $400, can be obtained with four years of work or life experience related to the subject

About the Author

Based in Toronto, Amy Stanwyck has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has been published in "Now Magazine" and "Eye Weekly." Stanwyck holds a Bachelor of Journalism in magazine journalism from Ryerson University.