Service members Opportunity Colleges (SOC) was created in 1972 to provide educational opportunities to service members who, because they frequently moved from place to place, had trouble completing college degrees. SOC functions in cooperation with fifteen higher education associations, the Department of Defense (DoD), and active and Reserve Components of the military Services to expand and improve voluntary postsecondary education opportunities for service members worldwide. SOC is funded by the DoD through a contract with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The contract is managed for DoD by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES).
Because of the realities of the mobile military lifestyle, SOC criteria stipulates that institutional policies and practices be fair, equitable, and effective in recognizing the special and often limiting conditions faced by military students.
Colleges and universities within the SOC Consortium must meet four SOC Criteria:
- Reasonable Transfer of Credit – avoid excessive loss of previously earned credit and avoid course work duplication
- Reduced Academic Residency – limited to no more than 25% of degree requirements with no final year or semester in residence (may require 30% for undergraduate degrees offered 100% online), specifically avoiding any “final year” or “final semester” residency requirement
- Credit for Military Training and Experience – recognize and use American Council on Education (ACE) Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services in evaluating and awarding academic credit for military training and experience
- Credit for Nationally-Recognized Testing Programs – award credit for at least one nationally-recognized testing program such as College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), or Excelsior College Examinations (ECE)
(Source: Voluntary Education, 2011, http://apps.mhf.dod.mil/pls/psgprod/f?p=VOLED:SUB:0::::COHE,TITLE,IMG:257735,Programs,257789)