This week, I focus on training alternatives you can pursue for academic credit. From the outset, you need to understand that your training choices will impact whether you receive academic credit at the college level.

As a general rule, you can expect that obtaining academic credit for MCSE courses you take at a typical regionally accredited academic institution isn’t going to be easy. A regionally accredited institution is a school that has obtained accreditation from one of the six Regional School Accreditation Commissions, listed in Table 1. If an academic institution has multiple locations, the accrediting commission covering the geographical area where the institution’s primary site is located is responsible for accrediting that institution.

If you’re interested in attending a traditional 2-year community college or a 4-year university, you need to know whether the credits you receive for your MCSE courses will transfer to the school you want to attend. The problem with MCSE training is that most training providers are not regionally accredited. Even regionally accredited institutions that offer MCSE courses might not offer these courses for academic credit.

Before you start your MCSE training, contact the college or university you want to attend and ask whether the courses are transferable. Be prepared to make a case for the transferability of the MCSE courses you’re interested in. As an example, you might cite the University of Maryland, a regionally accredited university that offers graduate credit for a variety of MCSE courses, listed in Table 2.

The American Counsel on Education (ACE) is championing a program, called the College Credit Recommendation Service, designed to help adult learners get academic credit for education they pursue outside the traditional college classroom, "providing college officials with reliable information that can be used to determine credit awards." ACE evaluates and makes credit recommendations for courses. A team of college and university faculty with specific content expertise serves as reviewers for the examination process. Organizations sponsoring the effort include business and industry, labor unions, associations, institutes, training suppliers, schools, and government agencies¾ organizations that offer courses to employees, members, and customers.

After the review process, ACE identifies courses and examinations worthy of college credit in the "National Guide to Educational Credit for Training Programs" and the "Guide to Educational Credit by Examination." Registrars, admissions officers, and other university officials can turn to these guides to evaluate your professional training for academic credit.

Over 500 colleges and universities have signed on as ACE participants, including Georgetown University, Florida State University, Indiana University, St. Louis University, University of Montana, University of New Mexico, and the University of Oklahoma. You can find a complete list of participating colleges and universities at http://www.acenet.edu/calec/corporate/partic-univ-U.html.

Several MCSE training providers have received favorable decisions from ACE's College Credit Recommendation Service. As a result, students are finding an avenue for getting college credit for the MCSE courses they have taken at Microsoft Certified Technical Education Centers (CTECs).

One final note of caution: Be selective when inquiring about transferability. Seek out only those people authorized to speak on behalf of the college or university you want credit from. Having taught at the community college and university levels, I can assure you that the transferability of college credit is a discretionary decision. Just because a training provider tells you that an MCSE course is transferable, doesn’t mean it is.