The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) by the College Board has been the most broadly trusted credit-by-examination program available to American college students for decades.
This program allows students of practically all ages and backgrounds a chance to showcase their proficiency of lower-level college subjects to earn college credits by attaining qualifying scores on any of the 33 college CLEP exams that are currently administered.
By becoming the most trusted source of alternative college credit available to modern students, CLEP exams are widely accepted and have been normalized among students and college faculty, alike. Currently, CLEP exams are being administered in over 1,800 testing centers, and approximately 2,900 colleges and universities are actively accepting CLEP exams as college credit, nationwide.
With approximately 75% of all U.S. colleges and universities offering college credit for CLEP exams, there is no way to exhaustively cover every institution and their CLEP policy in a responsible enough manner to track the changes and transitions taking place all the time. However, this guide is meant to serve as a starting point in looking at many of the prominent college and university systems across the country, and understanding their CLEP policies to help you understand other college CLEP policies unlisted here, should you need to continue your research outside of this document.
Important aspects of an institution’s CLEP policy to note should include:
- The specific CLEP exams for which institution awards credit
- The minimum CLEP score needed to receive credit
- How many credits awarded for particular CLEP exams
Despite most universities accepting at least some college credit from CLEP, not all 33 CLEP exams will be awarded credit at every college or university. Often a university will choose a handful of exams to accept, and all others are ignored or dismissed.
While the average score required to earn college credit in a CLEP exam is 50 (which is equivalent to about a C in letter grade), some schools may have information in their CLEP policy indicating higher (or occasionally lower) scores required for the credit to be earned. Finally, certain exams may be worth three, six, or more credits, at the college’s discretion; one exam may be worth three college credits at one university, and six at another.
All of these aspects of CLEP exams are dependent upon the particular college or university, and are subject to change. For these reasons, we must treat every college and university with individuality and research their CLEP policies thoroughly as prospective students, acknowledging their independence of one another.
In addition to these previously mentioned, it may also be helpful to research the cap to the number of credits students are allowed to earn through CLEP or other alternative credit sources. Most schools have a limit to how many credits can be transferred or earned through various methods, including CLEP, which may be helpful to know in your research and planning process. This is sometimes available on the CLEP policy itself, or you may have to speak to an advisor directly.
Following is a short directory of some of the larger colleges and universities across the United States, including links to their CLEP policies and summaries of what the policies mean. All U.S. institutions of higher education should have a CLEP policy available for your reference in this manner. Institutions are listed alphabetically by state.
Seventeen CLEP exams are accepted as Freshman and Sophomore class equivalencies, but some scoring minimums vary. You may have to score 52 or higher, depending on the exam, to be awarded credit (reference policy for specifics). You could earn a maximum of 101 CLEP credits at the University of Alabama, but CLEP credits can only constitute up to 50% of a Bachelor’s degree, or around 60.
Twenty-six CLEP exams are accepted as Freshman and Sophomore class equivalencies and class electives. They will accept Biology and Chemistry CLEP exams as four credits, including the lab credits usually accompanying the classes. The policy states they will accept “more than one CLEP examination,” but does not provide a clear cap on the number of CLEP credits accepted; students should consult an advisor on this cap/maximum credit policy before enrolling.
Credit is offered for 29 CLEP exams. While the General Studies requirements for natural sciences, literacy, and critical inquiry cannot be fulfilled by CLEP credits, there is no limit to the number of CLEP credits that can be used to fulfill the other parts of the General Studies requirement in any degree program.
The University of Arizona offers credit for 27 CLEP exams (which would amount to 130 possible credits), but the total number of credits earned through CLEP and other exams cannot exceed 60 units for a baccalaureate degree.
The University of Arkansas will accept credit for 19 CLEP exams, according to their current CLEP policy, but may require higher scores than the ACE standard to award credit (e.g., credit for the Calculus CLEP will not be applied unless the CLEP score is 65 or greater, a significant 15 points higher than the traditional ACE standard passing score of 50).
California State accepts 31 of the 33 CLEP exams for college credit, but caps the number of CLEP credits applied toward a degree to only 30. However, Advanced Placement examinations are not included in this limit, so there is the possibility of stacking CLEP and AP examinations to maximize alternative credit.
Colorado State awards no fewer than three college credits for all 33 CLEP examinations, and many exams do fulfill Freshman and Sophomore level General Education requirements. The minimum passing score for credit is 50 on all exams. Though the policy is very open, students should consult an advisor on the maximum number of credits the university will apply to their degree prior to enrolling, as no cap is indicated on the policy itself.
As one of the “Big Three” universities, Charter Oak State College is known for having one of the most open CLEP policies in the nation. All 33 exams are accepted for credit, but it should be noted that of the minimum 120 credit hours, 30 must be “upper level” (Junior and Senior level classes), and no CLEP exams are accepted as upper level. With the open credit-by-examination policy, students should look into other types of exams that may be stacked with CLEP to maximize alternative credit sources and fulfill the 30 upper-level-credit minimum.
The University of New Haven’s CLEP policy is very unexhaustive, but they do indicate that elective credit “may be granted” for CLEP exam score of 50 or better. Students should pursue more information from advisors on any CLEP exams not accepted, as well as the maximum number of CLEP credits the university would accept toward a degree before enrolling.
Delaware State offers credit for all 33 CLEP exams, but no limits or caps are expounded upon in their policy. An advisor should be consulted regarding potential limitations before enrolling.
Florida State accepts credit from 29 CLEP exams. Math, Science, and Engineering students who do not have credit in College Algebra are advised to take the PreCalculus or College Algebra CLEP exams. A maximum of 45 credit hours may be awarded through credit-by-exam sources such as CLEP towards Baccalaureate degrees.
Twenty-nine CLEP exams are recognized for credit, but all of a student’s CLEP exam scores must be submitted prior to the end of their first semester as a student. A maximum of 45 credit hours may be awarded through CLEP credit.
Pensacola Christian College will offer credit for 15 CLEP exams, but no more than 24 credits earned via CLEP will be granted towards a bachelor’s degree, and no more than 12 will be granted towards an associate’s degree. CLEP scores must be submitted before earning 100 credits unless prior approval is obtained.
Twenty CLEP exams are approved for college credit. Note that they do require English and Literature CLEP exams to include an essay in the scoring for credit.
The University of Hawaii does award credit for CLEP exams, but they must be taken before you complete 24 credits of college work.
Thirty-one CLEP exams are acknowledged for credit, but there are a few limitations. Students may earn up to one-third of their total credits required for graduation in a combination of all forms of alternative credit (including CLEP exams). Any credits earned through experiential learning will not count toward the graduation residency requirement.
The University of Idaho offers credit for most CLEP exams at the standard minimum score of 50. There is no indication on the CLEP policy form of credit limitations; an advisor should be consulted on this prior to registration.
All 33 CLEP exams are awarded credit at Purdue University. You must complete at least 32 credit hours of upper-division courses from Purdue as part of the requirements for your plan of study, but otherwise, there are no posted limitations on transferring CLEP credits.
Iowa State University will award credit for 14 CLEP exams, but discourages foreign language CLEP exams, is more strict on which CLEPs will apply to engineering degrees, and requires higher minimum scoring for credit than is nationally standard.
CLEP exams are generally accepted at the standard minimum score of 50, but each department within KU has different curriculum requirements and may use the CLEP credits in different ways, at their discretion.
The University of Kentucky awards semester credit hours for 21 University courses through CLEP examinations. For most exams, the standard minimum passing score of 50 is acceptable.
Fifteen CLEP examinations are approved for college credit at Louisiana State University. Minimum scores to receive credit vary; American Government and Calculus require scores of 58 and 56 for credit, respectively, while four college credits can be earned with scores of only 40 in French and German.
The University of Maine will accept 16 CLEP exams toward college credit. They do require the essay portion to be taken during the Analyzing and Interpreting exam, but upon a passing score of 50, they award six credits for the single exam. They also grant credits generously for the science and math CLEP exams, offering up to 8 for the Chemistry CLEP alone.
Credit is awarded for CLEP examinations on a departmental basis. Some departments within the university may award credits, while others may not, so close communication with advisors inside your target department is recommended. Current students are required to obtain permission from their advising college prior to taking a CLEP exam.
While most CLEP exams are recognized for credit, there is no credit awarded for any of the foreign language exams, nor the general Mathematics CLEP exam. There are some strict restrictions for when and how current students are allowed to go about earning credits through CLEP exams; you may consult the policy linked above for specifics.
Students at Michigan State University can earn credit for any of the 29 CLEP exams, according to their current policy. The standard minimum score of 50 is maintained throughout all accepted exams.
Nine CLEP exams are accepted for college credit. Regardless of score, no student can receive more than four hours of credit per foreign language CLEP exam.
Minnesota State University does award credit for CLEP examination scores 50 and higher, except only in foreign language exams, which the minimum scores vary. The policy on alternative college credit available to students at Minnesota State is set to be reviewed September of 2020.
Only three CLEP exams are acknowledged for credit, and each requires a passing score of 60. There may be an option for foreign language CLEP examinations, as well, but they would be under the authority of the University’s Language Center.
No more than 25% of any degree may be earned through alternative college credit methods, including but not limited to CLEP examinations. Most exams are accepted, but minimum scoring requirements vary, and application of credits is at the discretion of the dean and/or department head concerned.
Missouri State awards credit for 10 CLEP exams, with minimum scoring requirements ranging from 47 to 54.
Thirty-two CLEP examinations are listed on the policy as eligible for college credit, but departments are individually in charge of if they award credit towards their degrees, as well as how much credit they will award.
CLEP exams are very encouraged through Bellevue University. All CLEP exams only fulfill lower level (Freshman and Sophomore) credit and do not count toward the 30 credits of in-residence classes required to be eligible for academic honors.
While there is no limit to the number of CLEP credits that may transfer in, at least half of the total number of credits required for a bachelor’s degree must be earned at an accredited four-year institution (not through CLEP examinations), and thirty upper-division credits must be earned in residence at the University of Nevada.
The University of New Hampshire awards college credit for 17 different CLEP exams, and the maximum credit which may be granted through CLEP toward a bachelor’s degree is 64 credits or 16 courses. The maximum credit which may be granted toward an associate’s degree is 48 credits or 12 courses.
Fairleigh Dickinson University can accept up to 90 credits toward the 120-credit BAIS degree from a variety of sources, but only up to 33 credits may be awarded through CLEP exams.
As one of the “Big Three” primarily online universities, there is no limit to the number of CLEP credits you can apply to your degree at Thomas Edison State University, and alternative credit methods are highly encouraged. You must take at least the Cornerstone and Capstone courses from TESU to be eligible for graduation; there are varying requirements per degree for upper level (Junior and Senior) credits that cannot be fulfilled CLEP exams.
At New Mexico State, you must complete your CLEP examinations prior to your senior year, except with express permission from the dean of your college. Thirty-one CLEP exams are eligible for credit according to their current policy.
Excelsior awards credits as designated by ACE credit recommendations, thus requiring scores of at least 50 for credit. As one more of the “Big Three,” there are some requirements for finishing a degree and obtaining upper-level credits outside of CLEP, but there is no limit for how many credits can be transferred in from CLEP.
Fourteen CLEP exams are approved for credit under the current policy, but it is recommended that you consult with an academic advisor in your department of choice to verify that your CLEP credits will transfer to your degree of choice before enrolling.
While there is a policy that declares “most” CLEP exams will be accepted at the minimum ACE recommended scoring (50), there is not a detailed list available at this time providing specifics on which exams “most” includes. Students may consult an advisor for additional details. UND students must earn at least 30 credits from UND to be eligible for graduation.
Ohio State has a fascinating CLEP policy that even offers different class credits for the same exam, depending on your score. Students seriously considering Ohio State should study the CLEP credit opportunities thoroughly to take best advantage of the possibilities.
College credit is awarded for 20 CLEP exams, and the limit on credits applied to degrees is liberal as long as students meet the residency requirement and fulfill their class requirements for their degree path properly.
University of Oregon requires students to be registered for the term in which the exam is given. There is a list provided of classes not waived for CLEP or other credit-by-exam options, and CLEPs do not count toward the residency requirement of 45 credits that must be taken from the University of Oregon for graduation.
While Penn State does boast a generous CLEP policy, there is a tuition increase for students transferring more than 59.1 cumulative credits. If the credits you are transferring or have transferred to Penn State (including credits earned by exam, like CLEP) place you above 59.1 cumulative credits after the start of the semester, your tuition will increase, and you will be billed immediately.
Up to 30 CLEP credits may be applied as elective credit in a bachelor’s degree program at Providence College.
Clemson has a very limited CLEP policy. A few departments will award credit for CLEP subject-matter examinations; however, CLEP General Examinations (such as mathematics and the general science exam) are not recognized.
Twenty exams are approved for credit, but a student may not earn more than 32 semester hours of credit through CLEP exams.
University of Tennessee award credit for 13 CLEP exams. Minimum scoring requirements vary from exam to exam.
Eleven CLEP exams are approved for credit. You should note that while the literature CLEPs have a higher minimum score, the university explicitly does not require the optional essay for these exams. Additionally, Baylor does not issue elective credit for CLEP exams; each exam applies to a particular Baylor course.
Texas A&M awards credit for 16 exams, according to their current policy. They will administer all of the 33 CLEP exams at their testing center, but only the 16 will be recognized by the university.
CLEP exams are accepted, and there is a tool provided for individual search of all exams for details on minimum score and credits awarded.
BYU does not accept CLEP exams. However, if CLEP credit is used as part of an associate degree from another school, the degree may still be honored if it meets the standard transferring criteria. The CLEP credits are just not recognized individually.
Thirty CLEP exams are eligible for college credit. Each exam applies to a certain University of Vermont course; no elective credits are awarded for CLEP.
Liberty will accept 32 CLEP exams toward college credit. Note the special instructions on the policy regarding literature exams.
Scores of at least 50 are acknowledged for credit on 25 exams. Foreign language CLEP exams can earn a maximum of 15 credits.
With the exception of English composition, up to 35 hours of general education or elective credit may be earned for successful performance on the CLEP general examinations. The minimum passing score for most exams is 55, five points higher than the national standard of 50.
The University of Wisconsin has high standards set for students interested in earning college credit with CLEP examinations. While 13 exams are eligible for credit, students must score at least 65 on each exam, and all CLEP exams must be taken before completing 16 semester hours of college credit at the university.
The University of Wyoming’s CLEP policy indicates that 25 CLEP exams awarded credit with varying minimum scores, but most set at 50 or above. An advisor should be consulted prior to enrollment about potential limitations or caps on the number of CLEP credits that students may transfer.
Get Becky’s Weekly Newsletter on Homeschooling High School
We will never sell or share your email address.