Academic Recognition of Military Experience in STEM Education

by Meg Mitcham

Jun 1, 2013
Recent calls for increases in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education attainment and veterans' education success have created a platform for examining how veterans with military experience in STEM fields can more efficiently complete postsecondary education and training. The American Council on Education (ACE) military evaluation program provides credit recommendations for military courses that align servicemembers' training with postsecondary curricula and competencies. These recommendations, if accepted as transfer credit, can decrease the time it takes servicemembers and veterans to complete STEM certificates and degrees. Numerous challenges exist in considering military credit recommendations for postsecondary courses and degrees. The process is complex, requiring an acute understanding of military transcripts and the resources and tools available to assist institutions of higher education in awarding credit for military training. Additionally, misinformation and lack of awareness regarding the content, scope, and rigor of the ACE review process and resulting credit recommendations create resistance to awarding credit. Successfully increasing acceptance of military credit recommendations at institutions of higher education can be achieved through public-private partnerships between colleges and universities, federal agencies, workforce development experts, and other key stakeholders using available resources and tools to build degree pathways that accurately map military training to STEM courses. An education campaign about the ACE review process and the value of the resulting credit recommendations will also help eliminate the stigma surrounding credit awarded for prior learning, and boost support among leaders and institutions for increased acceptance of military credit recommendations. This approach will lead to the developmentof best practices and, ultimately, increases in both STEM attainment and veterans' education success.
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