Advanced Credit Options

Advanced credit is designed to recognize high school students' scholastic achievement attained prior to entering Penn College.  This option creates the opportunity for students to begin their college work at a higher level.

Advanced Credit Through Competency Assessment

If you have completed advanced courses or educational experiences in high school or at a career and technology center, you may be eligible for advanced credit.


Competency Assessment involves your high school instructor completing an evaluation that assesses your competencies in specific areas related to a course in the curriculum for your intended major.  Evaluations are sent to the high school instructor, reviewed, and returned to the College. Confirmation of competency via portfolio or test may be required.

Programs of Study (SOAR)

Students Occupationally and Academically Ready (SOAR) is a Pennsylvania Department of Education career and technical Program of Study (POS) education plan based on statewide articulation agreements.


Through this program, students in many secondary career and technical programs can get a head start in Penn College's associate- and bachelor-degree majors.

To earn SOAR credits, you must submit the following documentation to the Admissions Office in addition to the standard Admissions application requirements:

  • Secondary Competency Task List with signature of a secondary school technical instructor and the signed cover page.
  • PA Certificate of Competency or PA Skills Certificate in technical program area
  • Industry certifications earned (if applicable)

College-level Advanced Credit Exams

College-level advanced credit exams include the Advanced Placement (AP) Exams and the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).

Tech Prep

Penn College participates in Tech Prep programs with high schools and career and technology centers from across the Commonwealth.


Students who have enrolled in Tech Prep programs or in Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved programs of study at the secondary level are offered certain benefits, such as special admission consideration at Penn College. Interested Tech Prep students should contact their high school counselors before applying to the College.

Alternative Credit Options

Enrolled Penn College students have the opportunity to earn credit by demonstrating skills and knowledge obtained through prior courses or through specific work or living situations. This type of credit may be achieved by:

  • successfully challenging a specific course through credit-by-exam, a scored assessment (written and/or practical examination) of the student’s knowledge and skills relating to the course’s learning objectives.
  • successfully documenting work/life skills and experience that are equal to a course’s learning objectives.

Students who earn credit through these options save time and money while working toward their degrees.

Credit by Examination

Students may apply to take any 100- or 200-level course by examination. A student wishing to use the credit-by-exam option, should do so prior to scheduling the course; however, the student may challenge the course after enrolling in the course, provided the exam takes place prior to completion of 20 percent of the scheduled instruction for that course (that is, prior to the end of the third week of instruction for a full-semester course, during which time the refund policy applies).


The professor of the course involved and the school dean must approve the student's request for credit by exam. Upon receiving that approval, the student must pay an evaluation fee to the Student Accounts Office. No examination will be prepared or administered until the student presents the evaluation fee receipt. The examination fee will be waived for students seeking credit for ENL 111 (English Composition I) as a result of outstanding performance in the respective developmental counterpart ENL 001 (Basic English).

The professor of the course prepares, administers (at a time set by the dean), and evaluates the examination. The student will be notified in writing of the exam results. Assuming the student passes the exam, the course number, title, and number of credits earned will be entered on the student's official College transcript after the student has earned 12 credits at Penn College. (No letter grades will be listed on the transcript.) A student may take an examination in a specific subject only once. Application to take a course by examination must be made in writing to the academic school dean.

The exam for Information, Technology and Society (CSC 124) (a required course for all degree-seeking students) is offered on a limited basis; contact the School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies for details.

Implementation of credit-by-examination may vary by academic school. Contact the appropriate school office for details.

Credit for Work/Life Experience

A student requesting credit for work/life experience will be asked to document work and life experiences to show that the experiences are equal to the objectives established for the related Penn College course.


The appropriate academic school dean will appoint a committee to assess the candidate's educational and work background. The committee may interview the student and also may require the completion of practical exercises and/or tests where applicable. The committee will recommend the number of credits to be awarded. An evaluation fee is charged per course, payable in advance of the committee's review.

The results of the evaluation of work/life experiences will be sent to the student. Credit earned through work/life experience will be shown on the student's official College transcript after the student has earned 12 credits at Penn College. New enrollees and registered students who feel their work or living experiences warrant consideration for academic credit should contact the appropriate school office for information and applications.

Military Experience Credit

To be considered for academic credit, you must be able to document your experience and demonstrate how it is equal to objectives established for a specific, related course. Completion of practical exercises or test may be required. Waiving the required First Year Experience course is considered on a case-by-case basis.


To request an assessment of your military experience contact Admissions.

Application fee and tuition deposit is waived for our military veterans. A paper application must be submitted to receive the waiver.

Visit New Veteran & Military Students for additional information about transferring your veterans’ benefits.

Fitness credit for basic training

When applicable to the chosen major, completed military basic training may be eligible for 1 fitness credit (required in all bachelor- and associate-degree majors) by submitting a Joint Services Transcript (JST) to the Penn College Admissions Office.

Credit for ROTC course work

ROTC cadets may be eligible for 1 credit of fitness for specific military courses. Furthermore, specific military science courses may satisfy up to six open elective credits.

Visit Army ROTC for information about Penn College's Military Science program.

Maximum Credits and Impact on GPA

Credits earned through these options will not be used in calculating a student's graduation grade-point average and may not be used to remove or replace any grade previously posted for the courses. A student may earn up to 30 credits in the combined nontraditional credit methods.