Independent Study: Excelsior College Examinations, a Respected Method of Earning College Credit by Exam, Expands to 4,000 Sites in U.S. and Abroad
Growth signals Excelsior’s leadership in increasing access to college-level degree programs through independent study, leading to credit by exam
ALBANY, N.Y. (July 14, 2011) — Excelsior College® Examinations, a tuition-saving, independent study option for college students and college-bound high schoolers seeking college-level credit, are now more accessible at 4,000 Pearson VUE testing centers in the U.S. and abroad.
This is an increase of 2,900 test sites for Excelsior College Examinations (ECEs), a program of Excelsior College, a nonprofit, regionally accredited distance learning institution based in Albany, N.Y.
Earning college credit by examination is a recognized method of demonstrating college-level knowledge gained through independent study, on the job, or through other means. ECEs and the related UExcel® exams (already available at the 4,000 test sites) are the only college-affiliated credit-by-exam programs that lead to a letter grade on a college transcript.
"Higher education costs are front and center in our national education discussions, and independent study leading to credit-by-exam is a big piece of the puzzle for addressing part of this issue, while maintaining high academic standards for demonstrating competency," said Dr. Patrick Jones, dean of assessment at Excelsior College. "This expansion places our examinations within reach for anyone wishing to demonstrate college-level learning." Earning credit by examination can help significantly reduce the overall cost of attaining a degree. Based on a typical 30 credit-hour load per year, and annual tuition and fees reported by The College Board, the cost per credit hour via a semester-long course at a four-year institution can range between $254 at public colleges to $910 at private, nonprofit schools. By contrast, depending upon the length of an exam and the total credit awarded, the per-credit cost for an Excelsior College Examination averages $75.
ECEs and UExcel exams have been evaluated and recommended for college-level credit by the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT). Between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011, Excelsior awarded 99,277 credits to 29,572 students through the ECE and UExcel examination programs. The data reflects a per-student median of six credits earned through examination. Students can request that a transcript of their credits be sent to another institution, or have the credits applied toward an Excelsior College degree.
ECEs cover more than 40 subject areas in which students can earn between three and eight college-level credits at upper- and lower-levels in subjects ranging from microbiology and business to philosophy, psychology, history and other subjects. UExcel offers seven lower-level exams, which offer between three and six credits. In addition to expanding test site access, in July 2011 the testing time for 10 ECEs was reduced to two-hours and the cost for these 10 exams has dropped to $95. Corresponding practice exams for these 10 tests are priced at $25. These pricing changes and test site expansion are part of Excelsior’s strategy to meet growing demand for more affordable higher education options that maintain college-level rigor and quality.
Independent study leading to credit by examination is ideal:
For John Armstrong, a veteran and resident of New York, ECEs enabled him to close in on his college degree while deployed abroad on active duty.
"I took five Excelsior College Examinations while I was in country in Afghanistan in 2010," said Armstrong. "It was a challenging process to study and learn the material, but it was extremely flexible. You need to be a good test taker but that's something you can learn to do."
Learn more about another student’s experience with Excelsior College Examinations.
Excelsior College Examinations and UExcel tests are administered globally in secure environments at Pearson Professional Centers, and via Pearson VUE academic testing centers in schools, community colleges, nonprofit training centers and other educational and business settings. Organizations such as national medical boards, state licensing boards and major IT certification programs rely on Pearson VUE to provide safe, convenient and secure testing sites for their examinations.