What is a Work Experience Degree?

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  • Written By: Tiffany Manley
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2020
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A work experience degree is a degree that is earned based on relevant work experience versus traditional college course credits. Instead of attending college courses, either in a classroom or online, an individual’s work experience is evaluated in order for the degree to be awarded. A work experience degree also might be known as a life experience degree.

Work experience degrees are a great option for working adults. Many times, a traditional college degree is not an option because it requires a full-time commitment to education. Someone might desire to spend this time on his or her education, but the demands of working and providing for oneself and possibly a family can make it quite hard. A work experience degree affords him or her the opportunity to obtain a degree by using relevant work experience for credit toward the degree.

Although work experience degrees traditionally have been less desirable than normal college degrees, they are gaining recognition. Employers are recognizing the value of someone with actual work experience versus an individual who might have a piece of paper certifying their education in a particular field but who lacks work experience in that field. A prospective employee who presents himself or herself as a complete package of experience, a degree and an ability to work hard is likely to be noticed favorably.


Each university generally has its own criteria for evaluating experience when awarding a work experience degree. The guidance office of a university will be able to provide the requirements that the school specifically needs in order to evaluate work experience. Some of the items needed might include a résumé, professional references, samples of prior work or copies of awards received.

Many types of experience might qualify an individual for a work experience degree. Languages learned from studying or living abroad, specific experience in a certain business environment and the creation of various software programs are all examples of experience that might be translated to a work experience degree. A key thing that one must remember is to document experience so that it is easily shown to an evaluating committee.

Another important thing that someone who desires a work experience degree must keep in mind is that the degree might be more readily accepted by an employer if it is issued by an accredited institution. Universities that obtain accreditation demonstrate that they are committed to quality. This commitment to quality might help the work experience degree to be looked upon more favorably by someone who is looking to hire an individual.



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