As an ECU distance education student, Theresa Shouse represents a group of students who are most likely to benefit from the new ACE alternative credit project. The program will ease the path for nontraditional learners through an agreement to accept transfer credits for more general education courses. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

ECU to offer alternative credit as part of ACE consortium

Dec. 17, 2014

ECU News Services

East Carolina University is joining an American Council on Education alternative credit consortium as part of an initiative to create a more flexible pathway toward a college degree for millions of nontraditional learners.

The 25 institutions serving in the ACE pilot project have agreed to accept all or most of the transfer credit sought by students who successfully complete courses that are part of a selected pool of about 100 low-cost or no-cost lower division general education online courses. These institutions also will help identify the sources, criteria and quality of the courses.
Nontraditional students like Christopher Foote, who enrolled at ECU following military service, may be able to receive transfer credits for military training through the program.

The participating institutions represent a diverse group of four-year and two-year, public and private, non-profit and for-profit colleges and universities that have a strong commitment to access and attainment and serving nontraditional learners.

Among others, they include Central Michigan University, University of Memphis, Northern Arizona University and fellow N.C. schools Fayetteville State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"ECU is serious about its commitment to non-traditional, ‘part-way’ home and military populations," said ECU Senior Associate Provost Austin Bunch.

"This project will allow East Carolina to get a jump start on piloting alternative course credit from both traditional colleges and universities as well as non-accredited education providers such as the ACE’s credit program for military training. We are honored to be among the 25 founding institutions."

Participating institutions have agreed to provide anonymized data to ACE regarding the amount of credit their institution accepts, as well as progress and success rates of students transferring in courses through this project. Additional college, university and system partners will be recruited in fall 2015 to join the consortium.

This initiative is made possible by the support of a $1.89 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its initial focus will be on the more than 31 million adults who have completed some postsecondary coursework but lack a degree or credential; but many of these students represent first-generation, low-income students, so findings from this investment likely will apply to younger students from this population, as well.

About ACE: Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.