Free Clep Prep

A free resource for those preparing for CLEP, DANTES and Excelsior Examinations

The Big Three

The Big Three Breakdown - Excelsior, Thomas Edison State College, Charter Oak State College

In the test-for-credit world, the Big Three refers to Excelsior College, Thomas Edison State College and Charter Oak State College.

These three, regionally-accredited schools have no limit on the amount of credit by testing they accept.  This is a pretty big deal!  Most schools severely limit the amount of CLEP, DSST and other testing credit that they’ll apply to your degree.  The more generous among them will allow up to 30 credits, but most will only take 9 to 12 credits.  If you want any other credit from these schools, you’ll need to take a class. 

The Big Three, on the other hand, don’t care where the credit comes from, as long as it’s been evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE).   CLEP Exams, DSST's, StraighterLine, ALEKS Math Courses, and FEMA Courses are all accepted, as is coursework from other regionally accredited schools with a little administrative hoop jumping.

**Note - As always, a healthy dose of “check with your advisor” must be administered here.  Just because they accept the credits doesn’t mean it will necessarily apply to your chosen degree.** 

Here’s a brief breakdown of the three schools.  If you click on their names, you'll be taken to the websites for each school.

An asterisk "*" by the Yes/No means that the school may have something similar, but the diploma will not say what's listed here. For example, all Charter Oak degrees are actually in "General Studies", but they do have concentrations (for the bachelor degrees) that loosely match many of the programs listed.

The Big Three Breakdown

  Excelsior College Thomas Edison State College Charter Oak State College
Associate Degrees Awarded
Business Yes Yes No*
Technology/Science Yes Yes No*
Liberal Arts Yes Yes No*
Natural Sciences/Mathematics No Yes No*
Nursing Yes No No*
Human Services No Yes No*
Bachelor Degrees Awarded
Business Yes Yes Yes*
Technology/Sciences Yes Yes Yes*
Liberal Arts Yes Yes No
Human Services No Yes No
Health Sciences Yes Yes Yes*
Nursing Yes Yes No
Organizational Leadership No Yes Yes*
Graduate Degrees Awarded
Business/Management Yes Yes No
Technology/Sciences Yes Yes No
Liberal Arts Yes Yes No
Human Resource Management No Yes No
Education Yes* Yes No
Nursing Yes Yes No
Miscellaneous Info
Accepts Direct Transfer from StraighterLine? Yes Yes Yes
Accepts Direct Transfer of FEMA Courses? No Yes No
Application Fee (2012 - 2013) $80 $75 $75
Non-Resident First Year Enrollment Costs (2012 - 2013) $1,015* $2,958 $684
Graduation Costs (2012 - 2013) $495 $280 $205

*Excelsior students will also be required to pay a $440 annual "Student Service Fee" in addition to the First Year Enrollment Cost.

**Note** Other fees may apply for all schools. See the website for each school to get a more accurate estimate of total costs.

As always, a few qualifiers - This information on the Big Three is accurate based on what I've been able to find at the time of this writing. You should always approach this with a grain of salt until you talk to a student advisor at each school. Then take what they say with two grains of salt until you talk to another advisor and get it in writing! :P

Just to cover my proverbial backside since I'm including their logos above; I want to make it clear that none of these schools are affiliated with or endorse this website. The Big Three are popular with credit-by-exam students and for good reason. The goal of this page is to educate people about the degree programs they offer and nothing more.

Hope this helps!



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