Can you get a degree with just CLEP*?
A lot of students get hooked once they take their first CLEP* exam and some have the crazy idea, "What if I could do an entire degree with CLEP?" Believe it or not, the idea is not as crazy as you might think!
The short answer is "No."
There are a couple of different reasons you cannot complete an entire degree with CLEP. The most significant reason is, your college likely limits the number of CLEP exams you can earn credit for. At most colleges that accept CLEP, you are only allowed to take a couple or, at most, half a dozen CLEP exams. Check with your college adviser to see what their exact policy is regarding CLEP.
What if you switch schools?
If you are not absolutely set on getting a degree from a traditional college, then the answer can change dramatically. Some reputable online colleges are extremely flexible with credit-by-examination. They do not set a limit to the number of CLEP exams you can apply towards your degree. The most well-known and well-received of those online colleges are known as "The Big Three" and include Excelsior College (founded by the New York State Board of Regents), Thomas Edison State College, and Charter Oak State College.
Even if you choose a college with a more flexible stance towards credit-by-examination, the next problem is that CLEP only offers lower-level credit for 34 subjects. They do not have exams that match up with a lot of the degree requirements you need to complete an entire degree. The good news is, there are other exam programs out there that are similar to CLEP that cover other subjects, including upper-level exams corresponding to third and fourth-year college courses.
DSST, UExcel, and TECEP Exam Programs
DSST is the second most widely-accepted examination program after CLEP. There are currently 37 DSST exams available including several that are recommended for upper-level credit. Many test centers that administer CLEP also administer DSST.
UExcel is an examination program created by Excelsior College and is a great way to test out of many of your degree requirements if you are working through Excelsior. TECEP is Thomas Edison State College's examination program and offers dozens of courses you can "test out of."
Interested in more information?
If the idea of testing out of an entire degree sounds appealing to you, be sure to check out our discussion forum at DegreeForum.net. There are too many details for us to get into in a single article, but there are a lot of resources linked to on the forum and the members there are more than happy to help you figure out your own path to a valuable, efficient non-traditional degree.
Steven is one of the co-founders of InstantCert and is constantly looking for new ways to leverage technology to make learning more efficient and productive. Reach out to him with your ideas, stories, and questions by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* CLEP is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.