Can I Earn a Degree Based on Life Experience?

Please be aware that emails advertising so-called life experience degrees are most likely from unaccredited and dubious (if not fraudulent and illegal) institutions. If someone offers you an MBA or Ph.D. degree based on life experience, for example, that should be a red flag. The answer to the question of whether one can earn a credible degree based on life experience is yes and no.

On the undergraduate level, you can earn an entire bachelors degree through a demonstration of prior learning. Demonstrating prior learning typically involves using transfer credits, credit by examination, or portfolio development and evaluation. Such forms of prior learning assessment can be used to earn college credit and applied toward an undergraduate degree. The big three schools for prior learning degrees are Charter Oak State College, Excelsior College, and Thomas Edison State College. While there are numerous schools which accept such prior learning assessment, these three are the best choices if you want to earn an entire degree this way.

However, this doesn't apply to graduate programs - all accredited masters and doctoral degrees are based on new learning. While you may be able to earn a few graduate credits based on prior learning assessment, they are generally limited to a handful, if any. If you closely examine the schools that advertise graduate degrees based on life experience, you'll notice that they aren't accredited by a Department of Education and CHEA approved agency, and so you would be wise to avoid such programs.

See the article Life Experience Degrees: Are They Legitimate? for even more information.

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