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What Is an Accredited Life Experience Based College Degree?

An accredited life experience based college degree is conferred as a result of credits earned for achievements in job training, employment history, work skills and education. Accredited life experience based college degrees typically are available from 2- and 4-year colleges and universities.

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Accredited Life Experience Based College Degree: An Overview

Many colleges offer life experience based associate's and bachelor's degree programs in areas such as information technology, public administration, culinary arts, drafting, human resources and nursing. Students may pursue these unique degrees to help them compete with others who already have degrees but lack practical job experience. Some employers may not consider accredited life experience based college degrees to be as competitive as traditional degrees.

Experience Requirements

Accredited life experience based college degree programs require applicants to have completed a minimum amount of life experience related to the desired program. Life experience may include employer-sponsored seminars, workshops, training, professional certification or military education, as well as courses taken at a college, university, vocational or technical school. Volunteer work with relevant organizations and independent writing and reading may also count toward an accredited life experience based college degree.

Application Requirements

Applicants for an accredited life experience based college degree must submit credentials such as college course transcripts, awards, certificates, portfolios and job reviews. Some life experience degree programs may accept letters from former employers describing job responsibilities and accomplishments in detail. Accredited life experience based college degree programs may administer exams to assess life experience and previous learning.


Some life experience based college degree programs are not accredited and are not highly regarded. Students should be especially wary of life experience based degrees at the master's and Ph.D. levels, because they are typically not accredited by approved organizations.

To check the credibility of organizations that accredit life experience based college degrees, students can search a database of 6,900 accredited postsecondary institutions provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Users can search the database by names of accrediting organizations, institutions, city and state (

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