Saving Time and Money When Finishing Your Degree with Credit-By-Exam


For many adults, finishing a bachelor’s degree is a critical step toward professional advancement, increased earnings, and personal fulfillment but it can often seem financially out of reach.

In fact, student debt in the United States is now $1.6 trillion – higher than the total debt Americans put on their credit cards.

Yet, finishing a bachelor’s degree remains one of the best strategies for earning more and advancing or changing careers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who have a bachelor’s degree earn on average nearly $21,000 more annually than those with some college but no degree, and nearly $24,000 more annually that those with only a high school diploma. Over the course of a 40-year career, that could mean an additional $1 million in earnings.

So, what can a busy adult who wants to finish a bachelor’s degree do to reduce tuition costs, student debt, and the time it takes to graduate?

Many students turn to credit-by-exam programs to help them save time and money when earning a degree. These exams allow students to show that they already have specific college-level knowledge and let students “test out” of specific bachelor’s degree requirements.

Most credit-by-exam programs, such as the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP®), are a fraction of the cost of taking an equivalent course and students can take the exam whenever they are ready. This enables many students who pass credit-by-exams to save time and money when finishing their bachelor’s degree and potentially reduce student debt.

Many colleges and universities also offer their own exam programs.

Credit-by-exam programs typically provide an exam description and sample questions to give you an idea of whether you can pass it, and study materials to prepare for the test.


Most exams take between 90-120 minutes to complete. If you are comfortable taking standardized exams and working independently, credit-by-exam may be a good option for you. Students earn credit when they pass the exam.


When considering credit by exam, be sure to consult with your college or university to identify the proper exam that fits into your degree program and to confirm passing score you will need to earn credit.  


Learn more about credit-by-exam and earning credit for what you already know.

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