Military training – key to degree 

7/3/2008  By Cpl. Juan D. Alfonso, Marine Forces Pacific

Want to get a college degree? You might be further along than you think.
The Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript is a program designed to maximize a Marine or sailor’s education by turning military training into college credit.

SMART is a transcript of an individual’s military training. The American Council on Education evaluates military training courses to determine how many college credits each course is worth, if any.

“Your SMART transcript is one of the most powerful documents you will ever deal with,” said Craig Lockwood, an education specialist with the Joint Education Center, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. “I’ve seen Marines come to me with half of their degrees completed and they have never taken a college course.”

Many service members have a hard time believing military training could help attain a degree, but Lockwood said it wouldn’t make sense if they didn’t.

“Think about it this way,” in (Military Occupational Specialty) school you had to go to class. That’s what ACE looks at. They evaluate the length of the class, instruction hours, content and then decide how many credits it’s worth.”

Using a SMART transcript, Marines can use credits earned at basic training, combat training, Marine Corps Institute courses and MOS school, which depending on their field could already place them three to five classes into their degree, 12-18 credits.

“I didn’t think so much of my training would count toward college credit,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua J. Robey, a data networking specialist with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. “I’m a lot closer to my degree than I thought. On one page alone, I had almost 30 credits. That’s 10 classes.”

Marines in leadership positions benefit from the program more than other Marines. Leadership courses, such as Corporal’s Course and the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academies, can earn up to four credits a piece. Special billets, such as Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor, can bring service members even closer to a degree.

“In the civilian world, leadership is translated to management,” Lockwood said. “Depending on how many credits those courses are worth, they could already be launching you toward a degree in business.”

Lockwood also said degree selection is essential to maximizing a SMART transcript. Having 20 credits toward a degree in business doesn’t help if a Marine wants a degree in computer sciences.

Marines who decide to pursue a degree in their field get the most out of their transcripts. If striving for an associate’s degree, military and political studies are a faster route given the nature of military courses.

But, there is no guarantee a school will take all the credits on a SMART transcript.
“The SMART is just a recommendation,” Lockwood said. “Colleges or universities don’t have to take it, but the schools we deal with, (such as Hawaii Pacific University,) do a good job of taking as many credits as possible.”

Lockwood suggests not attending a school that does not take SMART credit.
If debating what school to go to, his suggestion is to request an unofficial evaluation of all credit and choose the school that takes the most SMART credit.

“Maximize the use of your credit. Squeeze out as much as you can,” he said. “Which would you rather prefer. A school that puts you a semester ahead or one that makes you start from scratch?”

For more information, service members can visit the SMART Web site at <>  or contact the JEC at 257-2158.

————————-, a portal of all things military, has become the “go to” site for resources, news and information that is of importance to the military audience. We have thousands of pages and hundreds of databases to keep you current on the information you need to have. With something for everyone, we take pride in providing all of our resources free to users. Additionally, we feature all types of Articles like this one to keep you informed. We will post your press releases, special events, newsletters, professional conferences and seminars, reunions, job fairs, and videos to help organizations get out the word. One of the areas of our focus is connecting candidates from the military community with outstanding government and civilian employers. We are well aware that candidates from the military community across the board have a work ethic second to none. They make highly valued employees. has a multitude of employment resources including a Directory of over 30,000 employers, Job Tips, Columns, Virtual Job Fair and our new and improved Job Board, featuring our Virtual Marketplace where you can post free ads for items you want to buy, sell or rent , and much more. We understand the importance of education. Please check out our new Scholarship Directory featuring thousands of scholarships. When the next tour is back home, it’s on