MOOCs That Offer Credit by Exam

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Most students are aware of Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school that offer college level placement and course credit. AP courses are a great way to get a head start on college credit while saving money on tuition at the same time. But did you know that there are similar options even if you’ve left high school behind? With massive open online courses (MOOCs) and credit by exam, it’s entirely possible to earn college credit online without paying tuition.

If you need to brush up on what MOOCs are (and some of their pros and cons), we’ve got you covered.

Through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), students are able to receive college credit for knowledge earned outside of the traditional college classroom. Similar to CLEP are DSST programs, credit-by-exam tests that originated with the Department of Defense. DSST tests offer college credit, often at more advanced levels than CLEP tests. The availability of these two programs allows students to use work experience, independent learning and even MOOCs to get a head start on college credit.

MOOCs offer students the opportunity to study with the world’s best universities online for the incredibly low price of free. With complete sets of lectures, course materials and worldwide classroom discussions, MOOCs provide the resources for students to learn as much as they would in a university’s physical lecture halls. Though MOOCs typically offer completion certificates for students who have kept up with the class, options for MOOC-based college credit are limited. But there is another option: students who have completed the work and genuinely learned from MOOCs can earn credit for introductory and even advanced-level courses by taking CLEP and DSST exams.

While taking a MOOC-to-placement exam approach isn’t likely to save you time, it is certainly an opportunity to save money and make your online college experience more affordable. The College Board has found that students who earn 15 prior learning credits typically save between $1,600 to $6,000 in tuition and fees. Compare that to CLEP and DSST exams, both of which are usually available for $80 each.

Nearly 3,000 educational institutions accept CLEP and DSST credits, including many online colleges and universities.

Earning credit by exam with MOOCs is a valid educational option for independent learners, but how exactly can you go about putting it all together? When used in conjunction with textbooks and learning resources recommended by CLEP and DSST, MOOCs become a powerful tool for mastery of a subject. A surprising number of CLEP and DSST exams have corresponding MOOC courses, and we suggest exploring the following exam and MOOC pairings:

Business and Finance Credit By Exam MOOCs

  • Financial Accounting (CLEP): CLEP’s Financial Accounting exam calls for a knowledge of accounting concepts and terminology, as well as the ability to use and analyze accounting data. Learn all this and more with An Introduction to Financial Accounting. provided by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. The course is designed to enhance students’ fluency in financial accounting, including analysis and informed financial decision making.
  • Introduction to Business (DSST): A broad understanding of business is required for this exam, which includes economic issues, business ownership, financial management and marketing. Foundations of Business Strategy from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business offers instruction in many of these concepts, as it teaches students how to analyze organizational strategy.
  • Money and Banking (DSST): Money and Banking requires knowledge of monetary systems and policies, banks and economic concepts, all of which can be acquired in Economics of Money and Banking, offered by Columbia University’s Barnard College. This course series delves into payment systems, money markets and connections with foreign exchange and capital markets.
  • Organizational Behavior (DSST): You will need to understand the science and analysis of organizational behavior to master this DSST exam, and you can get started with Stanford University’s Organizational Analysis course. This course offers an introduction to the theories of organizational behavior, and the opportunity to apply them to cases of organizational change.
  • Personal Finance (DSST): DSST’s Personal Finance exam will test you on the basics of responsible financial management, including credit and debt, taxes, investments and insurance. Many of these concepts can be explored in the University of Michigan’s Introduction to Finance, a course that introduces asset management and financial decision-making on both a corporate and personal level.
  • Principles of Finance: This exam requires an understanding of finance, from time value of money and financial planning to valuation, risk and return. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business offers the best course for this exam, An Introduction to Corporate Finance, which covers value techniques, financial decisions, capital budgeting and more. The University of Michigan’s Introduction to Finance is also a useful course for this exam, as is Columbia University’s Financial Engineering and Risk Management.
  • Principles of Financial Accounting: Financial statements, liabilities, accounting cycles and other important accounting concepts are tested in this exam. Master them with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business course, An Introduction to Financial Accounting, which offers an understanding of the essential principles and applications of corporate financial accounting.
  • Principles of Management (CLEP) and Principles of Supervision (DSST): To master CLEP and DSST’s management and supervision exams, you’ll need to understand the essentials of management and organization. With IE Business School’s Critical Perspectives on Management, you can develop knowledge in the key concepts of management practice, as well as imagination and lateral thinking. Case Western Reserve University’s Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence is also useful, offering resources for building strong leadership relationships.

Humanities Credit by Exam MOOCs

  • College Composition (CLEP), and College Composition Modular (CLEP): These two introductory composition exams from CLEP test a student’s familiarity with writing principles, research and reference skills. Mt. San Jacinto College’s Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade Coursera offering makes it possible to will learn the basic tools of writing for a great foundation in the writing principles needed to pass CLEP’s composition exams.
  • Ethics in America (DSST): DSST’s Ethics in America exam requires an understanding of ethical traditions and analysis, as well as practical application of ethical concepts in contemporary issues and relationships. Harvard University’s Justice and Yale University’s Moralities of Everyday Life provide a perfect pairing with this exam, examining ethics and justice as they relate to today’s hot-button issues.
  • Foundations of Education (DSST): You’ll need to demonstrate an understanding of issues and influences in education to pass this exam. With the eight-part Foundations of Teaching for Learning series from the Commonwealth Education Trust, budding educators can expand their knowledge of teaching for mastery of the exam and beyond.
  • Principles of Public Speaking (DSST): This exam covers the fundamentals of public speaking, including a persuasive speech component that will be scored. Develop your public speaking skills with the University of Washington’s Introduction to Public Speaking, a course that studies the principles of public speaking and offers opportunities for interactive practice. You can further hone your persuasive speaking skills with Duke University’s Think Again: How to Reason and Argue.

History and Social Sciences Credit by Exam MOOCs

Science and Mathematics Credit by Exam MOOCs

Can you really ace a CLEP or DSST exam without ever setting foot in a college classroom? With the right tools, preparation and dedication, it’s possible. Take MOOCs seriously and learn to channel them into a for-credit effort, and you can turn them a valuable resource to help make an online college education affordable.

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