30 Ways to Earn College Credit

This list includes EVERY good way a homeschooled teen can earn college credit in high school. Each link on this list will open to our suggestions and give you the upsides and downsides for using that type of credit.

Why this List is Sorted

Colleges treat some types of college credit differently than others. This list is sorted to help you understand the hierarchy of how the credit your teen earns will be received later. Type 1 has the best transferability, and it goes down from there.

Rule of thumb: when you don’t know your teen’s target college(s), focus on how the credit works in your homeschool and serves your family. Classes can bring value without being part of a degree later. Colleges do not “preapprove” credits or courses or exams for prospective students.

Type 1: RA Graded Credit (Excellent Transferability)

Regionally Accredited (RA) Graded Credit has the highest level of transferability and acceptance. These credits result in a letter grade on a college transcript. Credit options in this section are solidly transferable into colleges that accept transfer credit.

Type 2: Credit by Exam (Good Transferability)

Credit by exam programs are standardized tests written and administered by a company (not college) that assess college-level knowledge in various subjects. Credit by exam tests are not “textbook specific” so you can prepare using any material you like. Credit earned by exam is considered “potential” college credit until it is accepted by a college.

Type 3: ACE Credit (Limited Transferability)

The companies/organizations in this category sell courses “for college credit” that have been evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE). ACE credit is not as transferable as credit earned directly through a college, but can be very transferable when used with the intention of transferring to one of the partner colleges. ACE is a third party credit evaluator that evaluates all types of learning that happens outside of a college. This kind of college credit is guaranteed to transfer into partner colleges (varies by provider) but transfers poorly outside of partnerships.

Using ACE credit requires creating an account with another third party, Credly to “hold” your teen’s credit until they’re ready to use it. HS4CC List of ACE Partners

Type 4: NCCRS Credit (Very Limited Transferability)

The National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) is a third party credit evaluator that evaluates learning that occurs outside of a college. Only when a provider has a partnership with a college should this college credit be considered transferable. Unlike ACE/Credly, NCCRS college credit is held directly with the provider. HS4CC List of NCCRS Partners

Type 5: Special Transfer

Credits in this section usually have very specific procedures to follow, limitations, or are part of a special relationship. This is a unique category for credit types that don’t fit well into the other groups.

Type 6: Not Recommended

These programs /companies/products are currently NOT recommended for any one of many reasons, including but not limited to: program discontinued, business closed, loss of credit recommendation, loss of partnerships, misrepresentation or errors with credit transfer, etc.

  • Institutional Challenge Exams (any college)
  • College Plus
  • Distance Learning Systems
  • FEMA Independent Study
  • Gateway Education
  • InstantCert Credit Courses
  • Lumerit
  • National Fire Academy
  • Olivet Nazarene University / Your Way
  • Pearson Accelerated Pathways
  • Shmoop
  • TEL Learning (exception: when using McMurry as your partner university)
  • The Institutes (Insurance)
  • TOR Academy
  • UExcel Exams
  • Unbound / Be Unbound
  • Verity College Education