Informing Improved Recognition of Military Learning

As veterans return to civilian life and enter postsecondary education to earn a credential and launch their civilian careers, many struggle to obtain academic credit for the substantial training and education during their service. With more than 1 million veterans having used the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, it is critical to better understand the challenges veterans face—and paths institutions could take to address those challenges by better recognizing their learning.

Project Overview

Explore the project's findings in the 2021 report or infographic.

Watch related videos about this work.

This project, funded by Lumina Foundation, examines veterans’ experiences with, and perceptions of, having their military learning recognized by postsecondary institutions as they pursue a credential, with the goal of (1) developing a better understanding of the challenges veterans face in receiving recognition of their learning by postsecondary institutions, and (2) informing and supporting institutions’ efforts to address that challenge.

This project’s long-term outcomes include improved institutional practices and policies, and potentially state or federal policy, supporting recognition of military learning. This may also ultimately affect the policies of accreditors and other external bodies, depending on the challenges uncovered and the implications of those challenges.

Research Activities

Two primary activities will support this work:

  • Qualitative interviews/focus groups with student veterans. To understand barriers and perceptions among veterans related to recognition of military learning, AIR conducted qualitative focus groups in Winter 2020 with veterans currently or recently enrolled in postsecondary institutions. These interviews focused on topics like education goals, information received about opportunities for recognition of military learning, the role of military learning recognition opportunities in choice of institution and program, experience getting military learning recognized, and the role of military learning recognition in sense of belonging at institutions. We also explored potential relationships between challenges in receiving credit and veterans’ broader perceptions of their postsecondary experience and institution.
  • Survey of student veterans. In Fall 2020, AIR, in collaboration with Student Veterans of America, will survey student veterans on questions refined through the focus group process to better understand the prevalence of key challenges and issues. This survey will be targeted to those who are currently or were recently enrolled at an institution (regardless of completion status).

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Related Videos

Getting College Credit for Military Experience: Recommendations for Student Veterans from Student Veterans

This video features student veterans sharing their experience and advice for other veterans about getting credit for their military experience.


How Colleges and Universities Can Better Support Student Veterans

This video features interviews with institutional practitioners, student veterans, and AIR researchers sharing findings from the study and providing recommendations for institutions about how to better support student veterans.


Alexandria Radford headshot
Senior Director, Center for Applied Research in Postsecondary Education (CARPE)