Meet Excelsior's Exam Takers

Excelsior College has a long history of offering credit by examination as a means to earn college credit. Many Excelsior graduates have combined these examinations with Excelsior College courses to complete their degrees. Now, through the Excelsior College $10K Degree program, students have the option of completing an undergraduate degree almost exclusively through the use of Excelsior College® Examinations, UExcel® Exams and our supported, independent study services. Here, meet some graduates who used credit by examination to complete their degrees with Excelsior College.

Thomas Kidd, 51, BSL '08
Morningside, Maryland
Director, Strategic Spectrum Policy
Department of the Navy

For Tom Kidd, his unpredictable and transient life in the U.S. Air Force — and later his civilian job with the U.S. Navy – already required the skills needed for successful independent study: the ability to learn extensive and detailed information and to translate knowledge into hands-on work. So for Tom, completing his college degree through independent study and credit by examination was a natural fit.

Tom, who was named director of strategic spectrum policy for the Department of the Navy in 2006, earned his undergraduate degree almost entirely by examination in 2008 – including 27 credits through Excelsior College Examinations. Earlier credits he earned from other examination programs and some prior coursework all combined to meet the requirements for an Excelsior College degree.

Thomas Kidd


Kimberlee A. Ray, 44, BSL ‘09
Los Angeles, California
Attorney, Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs
Brand Sense Partners

Kim Ray's trajectory toward becoming a lawyer had an unusual twist: she was completing her bachelor's degree while also attending law school. Some California law schools will admit high-performing undergraduates who have not yet completed a bachelor's degree, but Kim considered a bachelor's degree to be an essential component of her education.

The only practical way to complete her undergraduate degree – while working full-time and attending law school at night – was through independent study leading to credit by examination. In 2009, she completed the last of the Excelsior College Examinations she needed to earn her BS in Liberal Arts, with honors. Her self-discipline, motivation and study skills had finally paid off.

"But the necessary character trait for exam success is discipline, since this is not an easy path," said Kim, who transferred other exam and course credits to Excelsior. "Being a good time manager and being personally motivated are critical. If you are good at digesting and assimilating large amounts of information and presenting cogent answers, exams are a great option."


Kimberlee A. Ray


Brian C. Jones, 36, BSL ‘10
Pasadena, Texas
International Space Station Ground Controller

Brian C. Jones has a job for the modern ages: he works as an International Space Station Ground Controller at Honeywell in Houston, Texas. It's a career he would have never thought possible when he left junior college – out of boredom.

Brian took on a challenging new career as a backroom engineer for a NASA subcontractor, one that didn't require a degree. But eventually he realized that any chance at professional advancement was limited by his lack of formal education. Returning to a traditional college wasn't an option.

Brian, always a voracious reader and an engaged on-the-job learner, began studying on his own for college-level examinations, including Excelsior College Examinations. In 2010, he earned a degree, a pay raise and a promotion to a ground controller position with Honeywell. Brian is now pursuing his MBA at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, with a concentration in aviation management.

Brian C. Jones


Katherine Von Dohlen, 39, BSL ‘11
Boerne, Texas
Insurance Claims Adjuster/Special Education Teacher/Graduate Student

Katherine Van Dohlen is at a professional crossroads: she's a former insurance claims adjuster transitioning to a career as a special education teacher, a job she predicts will sustain her while she pursues a graduate degree in sociology. Were it not for credit-by-examination programs, she might not be pursing her personal dream.

Katherine left Louisiana State University in 1993, lured by a high-paying sales job, but soon she found herself a single mother without a college degree. A traditional college classroom proved a difficult option with young children and a full-time job.

Later, Katherine married a man who had earned an undergraduate degree through examinations in 1999 from Excelsior, when it was known as Regents College. After some initial doubts she embarked on her own journey, combining Excelsior College online course work with CLEP and DANTES exams, along with course credits from earlier college work. She added another 30 credits using Excelsior College Examinations to earn her BS in Liberal Arts.

Through independent study and a wealth of knowledge on business, marketing and related subjects absorbed throughout her career, Katherine finished her degree in 2011 – opening up a new world of possibilities.

"You don't often realize how much you know, and how much you absorb from reading and working," she said. "Earning my college degree was a huge milestone and it has opened so many doors for me."

Katherine Von Dohlen




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