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 to showcase their proficiency of lower-level college subjects and earn college credits by attaining qualifying scores on any of the 33 CLEP exams.
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, 1,800 testing centers administer CLEP exams, and approximately 2,900 colleges and universities nationwide actively accept CLEP exams as college credit.
With approximately 75% of all U.S. colleges and universities offering college credit for CLEP exams, there is no way to cover every institution and their CLEP policy in a responsible enough manner to track the changes and transitions taking place all the time.
This guide serves as a starting point in looking at the CLEP policies of prominent college and university systems across the country. Understanding these CLEP policies may help you understand other college CLEP policies as you continue researching your college options.
Important aspects of an institution’s CLEP policy that you should note:
- The specific CLEP exams for which institutions award credit
- The minimum CLEP score needed to receive credit
- How many credits are awarded for particular CLEP exams
Although most universities accept 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.
The average score required to earn college credit in a CLEP exam is 50 (which is equivalent to about a C in letter grade). However, some schools have CLEP policies requiring higher (or occasionally lower) scores to earn credit. Finally, some 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 these aspects of CLEP exams depend 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.
Additionally, it may be helpful to discover if a college has a cap to the number of credits students are allowed to earn through CLEP. Most schools have a limit to how many credits can transfer to the degree. This information is sometimes available in 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.
Institutions are listed alphabetically by state.
Last updated 3/31/2020
Seventeen CLEP exams are accepted as Freshman and Sophomore class equivalencies, but 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 half of a Bachelor’s degree—around 60 credits.
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 may be awarded for 29 CLEP exams. CLEP credits cannot fulfill some General Studies requirements such as natural sciences, literacy, and critical inquiry. However, there is no limit to the number of CLEP credits that can fulfill the other parts of the General Studies requirements in any degree program.
The University of Arizona offers credit for 27 CLEP exams (which would amount to 130 possible credits). Still, the total number of credits earned through CLEP and other exams cannot exceed 60 units for a baccalaureate degree.
According to their current CLEP policy, the University of Arkansas will accept credit for 19 CLEP exams. Nevertheless, they may require higher scores than the ACE standard to award credit. For example, credit for the Calculus CLEP will not apply 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 to a degree to only 30. However, this limit does not include Advanced Placement examinations, so it may be possible to stack CLEP and AP examinations to maximize alternative credit.
Colorado State awards three or more 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 before enrolling to find out the maximum number of credits the university will apply to their degree as the policy does not indicate a cap.
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 accepting all 33 exams for credit. Please note that 30 of the minimum 120 credit hours required for a degree must be “upper level” (Junior and Senior level classes). CLEP exams will not fulfill upper-level requirements. 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 not exhaustive, but they do indicate that elective credit “may be granted” for CLEP exam scores 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 clear in their policy. Consult an advisor 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. Yet, the cap for CLEP credits applied to a bachelor’s degree is 24. The cap for CLEP credits applied towards an associate degree is 12. Students must submit CLEP scores before earning 100 credits unless they have obtained prior approval.
Twenty CLEP exams are approved for college credit. Note that they do require that English and Literature CLEP exams include an essay in the scoring for credit.
The University of Hawaii does award credit for CLEP exams. However, all CLEP exams must be taken before students 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; consult an advisor about this before 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. It is more strict on which CLEP credits will apply to Engineering degrees, and requires higher minimum scoring for credit than is standard.
CLEP exams with the standard minimum score of 50 are generally accepted. However, 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. The minimum score needed to receive credit varies; for example, American Government and Calculus require scores of 58 and 56 for credit, respectively, while students can earn four college credits 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 of 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. Close communication with advisors inside your target department is recommended. Current students must obtain permission from their advising college before 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 29 CLEP exams, according to their current policy. Students must earn a minimum score of 50.
Nine CLEP exams are accepted for college credit. Regardless of their score, students may not receive more than four hours of credit per foreign language CLEP exam.
Minnesota State University does award credit for CLEP examination scores of 50 and higher, except in foreign language exams, in which the minimum scores vary. The policy on alternative college credit available to students at Minnesota State is to be reviewed in 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 the dean or department head may award credits at their discretion.
Missouri State awards credit for 10 CLEP exams, with minimum scoring requirements ranging from 47 to 54.
According to their policy, 32 CLEP examinations are eligible for college credit. Departments may individually determine if they award credit towards their degrees, as well as how much credit they will award.
CLEP exams are encouraged at 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.
There is no limit to the number of CLEP credits that may transfer to a degree. However, students must earn at least half of the credits required for a bachelor’s degree at an accredited four-year institution (not through CLEP examinations). They must earn 30 upper-level credits in residence at the University of Nevada.
The University of New Hampshire awards college credit for 17 different CLEP exams, and the maximum number of CLEP credits which may be applied toward a bachelor’s degree is 64 credits or 16 courses. The maximum credit which may be granted toward an associate degree is 48 credits or 12 courses.
Fairleigh Dickinson University may 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 geared for adult learners, their generous policy accepts all CLEP credits that may apply to your degree. Plus, alternative credit methods are highly encouraged. You must take their Cornerstone and Capstone courses to be eligible for graduation. Requirements vary per degree regarding which upper-level credits (Junior and Senior) can be fulfilled by 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 another 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 transfer from CLEP.
The current policy approves 14 CLEP exams for credit. Consult an academic advisor in your department of choice to verify that your CLEP credits will transfer to your degree 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 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 the 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.
The University of Oregon requires students to have registered for the term during which the exam is given. They provide a list of classes not eligible to be fulfilled by CLEP or other credit-by-exam options. CLEP credit does not count toward the mandatory residency requirement of 45 credits taken from the University of Oregon for graduation.
While Penn State boasts 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 apply 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.
Credit is approved for 20 CLEP exams. However, a student may not earn more than 32 semester hours of credit through CLEP exams.
The University of Tennessee awards credit for 13 CLEP exams. Minimum scoring requirements vary from exam to exam.
Students may apply credit from 11 approved CLEP exams. You should note that while the literature CLEPs have a higher minimum score requirement, 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.
According to their current policy, Texas A&M awards credit for 16 exams. They will administer all 33 CLEP exams at their testing center, but the university will only recognize those 16 for credit.
CLEP exams are accepted, and there is a search tool provided on their website that helps students learn the details on minimum scores 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; CLEP may not fulfill any elective credits.
Liberty will accept 32 CLEP exams for college credit. Note the special instructions on the policy regarding literature exams.
Twenty-five CLEP exams may earn credit with scores of at least 50. Foreign language CLEP exams can earn a maximum of 15 credits.
Up to 35 hours of general education or elective credit may be earned for successful performance on the CLEP general examinations, excepting English Composition. 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. Before enrolling, students should consult an advisor about potential limitations or caps on the number of CLEP credits that may transfer.
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