Illinois National Guard

Education Home
Educational Benefits
State Tuition Assistance
Montgomery GI Bill
Federal Tuition Assistance
Tests and Examinations
College Experiential Credit
Educational Counseling
Benefits Handbook
Non-traditional Education
What is Dantes?
External Links
Veterans Affairs Forms
Illinois Colleges and Tuition Costs
Army Guard Institute
SmartGuide to Financial Aid
Enlisted Transcripts
U.S. Army Education
Service Members Opportunity Colleges (SOC)

Back to College Experiential Credit Page

Serving the voluntary higher education needs of the military services

Service members Opportunity Colleges (SOC), a consortium of national higher education associations and more than 1100 institutional members, functions in cooperation with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Military Services including the Coast Guard to help meet the voluntary higher education needs of Service members.

Hundreds of thousands of service members, civilian employees of DOD, the Military Services including the National Guard, the Coast Guard, and their family members enroll annually in college-level programs. SOC institutional members -- universities, four-year and two-year colleges and technical institutes - subscribe to principles and criteria to ensure that high-quality academic programs are available to military students.

SOC was established in 1972 by civilian and military educators to help strengthen and coordinate voluntary college-level educational opportunities for Service members. SOC does this by:

  • Seeking to stimulate and help the higher education community to understand and respond to the special needs of Service members
  • Advocating the flexibility needed to improve access to and availability of educational programs for Service members
  • Helping the Military Services, the National Guard, and the Coast Guard understand the resources, limits, and requirements of higher education
  • Helping the higher education community understand the resources, limits, and requirements of the Military Services, the National Guard, and the Coast Guard
  • Seeking to strengthen liaison and working relationships among military and higher education representatives

SOC institutional members collectively confer the full range of associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Many offer on-base programs and some serve military installations overseas. Some SOC institutional members act as "home colleges" for Service members who, by prior agreement, earn academic credits elsewhere. The SOC designation can apply to an entire institution or, as is the case in some large universities, only to specific divisions or degree programs.

The SOC Principles and Criteria

To achieve its objectives, SOC is founded on principles and criteria agreed to by the SOC Advisory Board, representing the SOC Consortium and the Military Services. Institutional members of SOC pledge themselves to support the SOC Principles and Criteria.

THE SOC PRINCIPLES are distilled from the cumulative experience of educational institutions that have been successful in working with service members.

  1. >Principle 1. To enhance their military effectiveness and to achieve their educational, vocational, and career goals, service members should share in the post secondary educational opportunities available to other citizens.
  2. Principle 2. Educational programs for service members should rely primarily on programs, courses, and services provided by appropriately accredited institutions and organizations, including high schools, post secondary vocational and technical schools, colleges and universities.
  3. Principle 3. So that service members can benefits from college-level educational opportunities, institutions should maintain flexibility of programs and procedures, particularly in admissions, credit transfer, and recognition of other applicable learning, including that gained in the military services; in scheduling and format of courses; and in academic residency requirements to offset service members' frequent moves, isolation from campuses, and part-time student status.

THE SOC CRITERIA create a framework for institutions to translate SOC Principles into performance and action. the SOC Criteria stipulate that institutional policies and practices be fair, equitable, and effective in recognizing the special and often limiting conditions faced by military students. In brief, the Criteria specify that a SOC institution:

  1. Design transfer practices for service members to minimize loss of credit and avoid duplication of course work.
  2. Limit residency requirement for active-duty service members to no more than 25 percent of the undergraduate degree program, with courses taken at any time.
  3. Award college credit, at the appropriate undergraduate level, for specialized military training and occupational experience, and for learning in extra institutional and nonacademic settings. **As a general rule, members of the Illinois Army National Guard are more apt to have American Council on Education credit recommendations for military training and experiences accepted at SOC colleges, thereby helping Guard members save both time and money in pursuit of college degrees.

In addition to the Principles and Criteria, SOC institutions observe other guidelines to facilitate admission and enrollment of qualified service members and to enhance their study opportunities. The policies and practices of SOC institutions include:

  • Recognizing the GED high-school equivalency certificate/diploma
  • Establishing competence by nationally recognized means such as standardized tests
  • Waiving formal admission procedures for service members seeking to enroll in courses for transfer to other institutions
  • Providing student agreements or learning contracts for all degree-seeking service members
  • Advising and assisting service members in using nontraditional or less-formal ways to study when formal course work is not available


SOC Colleges in Illinois

Note: the appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Illinois National Guard of the Web sites or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Illinois National Guard does not exercise any editorial control over the information you find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this Web site.

College City
Barat College Lake Forest
Benedictine University Lisle
Carl Sandburg College Galesburg
City Colleges of Chicago*** Chicago
***Harold Washington College, Harry S. Truman College, Kennedy King College, Malcolm X College, Olive Harvey College, Richard J.Daley College, and Wilbur Wright College
DeVry Institute of Technology-Chicago Chicago
DeVry Institute of Technology-DuPage Addison
Frontier Community College Fairfield
Governors State University University Park
Illinois State University Normal
Illinois Valley Community College Oglesby
ITT Technical Institute Hoffman Estates and Matteson
John A. Logan College Carterville
John Wood Community College Quincy
Joliet Junior College Joliet
Kaskaskia College Centralia
Kendall College Evanston
Kishwaukee College Malta
Lewis and Clark Community College Godfrey
Lewis University Romeoville
Lincoln Trail College Robinson
MacMurray College Jacksonville
Midstate College Peoria
Morrison Institute of Technology Morrison
National-Louis University Evanston
Olivet Nazarene University Kankakee
Olney Central College Olney
Parkland College Champaign
Prairie State College Chicago Heights
Quincy University Quincy
Robert Morris College Chicago
Saint Xavier University Chicago
Southeastern Illinois College Harrisburg
South Suburban College Soutd Holland
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Spoon River College Canton
Trinity Christian College Palos Heights
Triton College River Grove
University of Saint Francis Joliet
Wabash Valley College Mount Carmel
Waubonsee Community College Sugar Grove
Western Illinois University Macomb
William Rainey Harper College Palatine

For more information visit the Service members Opportunity Colleges Home Page.

SOC Guard

SOCGuard's primary purpose is to assist the Army National Guard (ARNG) in enlisting and retaining high quality personnel by integrating college education opportunities into ARNG recruiting and retention activities. SOCGuard program staff within Service members Opportunity Colleges (SOC), in cooperation with the National Guard Bureau and National Guard personnel within each state, work with high schools, colleges and universities to help ARNG soldiers realize their full military and civilian potential by seeking a college degree and developing career plans.

For more information about SOCGuard, click here.

Back to College Experiential Credit Page