Civilian college credits are used within the military to earn promotions and meet educational requirements. Colleges and universities accredited in the civilian sector are automatically recognized by the military. However, soldiers who knowingly acquire diplomas through schools lacking accreditation are subject to punishment, up to and including dishonorable discharge, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Accredited colleges and universities are listed on the Army's education portal, GoArmyEd.com.
The Army's education portal, GoArmyEd.com, features an alphabetical list of all accredited, military-approved post-secondary educational institutions. The Army's Tuition Assistance program, which requires command approval, grants soldiers up to $4,500 per year to attend a military-approved school. Soldiers can attend online or in a physical location while using the TA program. Soldiers may not attend a non-accredited school using the TA program, and any credits earned will not be counted on the soldier's military record.
How Credits and Degrees Help
In the military, each civilian credit hour translates into promotion points for enlisted members. For example, one college credit hour earned at a civilian institution equals 1.5 promotion points in the Army. Promotion points must be earned in order for a soldier to advance in rank. Although commissioned officers are not assigned promotion points, first and second lieutenants are required to complete a bachelor's degree before they become eligible for promotion to captain.
College Credit for Military Education
All the approved colleges and universities on GoArmyEd.com's list accept military education in exchange for civilian college credits. For example, military transcripts that reflect successful completion of Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training will be evaluated by the college. The equivalent in civilian college credits will be given to the soldier. These two basic military schools often provide students with up to 10 civilian credits in physical education, military science and other categories. The credits awarded are based on each school's individual programs.
Diploma Mills and For-Profit Colleges
Some institutions are considered "diploma mills," and they charge service members a fee to produce a diploma that can be turned in to the military and added to a personnel record. This constitutes fraud and is punishable by dishonorable discharge. Graduates from many accredited for-profit colleges, such as the University of Phoenix and American InterContinental University, often earn less outside the military than graduates of not-for-profit colleges and universities.