What is the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Program?

Military personnel are regularly transferred between bases and stations, so this makes it quite difficult for them to complete a degree through the same college. The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) was created in 1972 to provide continuing educational opportunities for military personal who frequently change locations.

Resource: Top 15 Online Colleges for Military and G.I. Bill 2015

A Unique Civilian-Military Partnership Program

Program members are made up of a consortium of college-level organizations and university systems. These national organizations cooperate with all military service branches and the Department of Defense to help meet the special college needs of military personnel. The founding principles of this program were designed through the Advisory Board, the higher education community, the Office of Defense and all branches of the military. This includes both the Coast Guard and the National Guard.

These principles are explained in a transfer policy that establishes cooperative credit transfer practices. This document is supported by education councils, accreditation bodies and admissions advocacy groups. The entire program is based on the historical experiences of educational agencies and institutions that noticed how difficult it was for service members to stay in a degree program and graduate.

Operational Details

The flexible credit transfer and acceptance policies create an academic framework for colleges and universities to support military personnel as they serve their country. This means that higher education policies and practices must be equitable and effective in order to recognize the special needs, mitigating circumstances and limited opportunities faced by military students. This program gives service members opportunities to earn two-year and four-year degrees through the Degree Network System while serving in the military.

The Degree Network System works with regular colleges and universities that receive large amounts of incoming military service members as students. These higher learning institutions are found around the world. They help veterans take classroom courses during their off-duty hours on or near military bases and on military ships. Military personnel may also enroll in distance learning programs, which have quickly become the most preferred method. This program also offers similar benefits to family members of service members.

Post-military Benefits

The benefits are extended to veterans to help them begin or continue their studies. The Civilian Consortium provides evaluation standards for colleges and universities to use when assessing veterans’ training, experiences and previously completed coursework. Some of the core criteria equally applies to veterans. This includes credit transfers, admissions practices and the standards for recognizing alternative learning programs and military experience.

These programs help veterans receive college credit for the hard work and advanced training they received while in the military. Veterans will take comprehensive tests that assess service activities, acquired skills and MOS training. This test produces a score that is used to determine the amount of college credit available. These helpful programs help veterans earn a degree faster because they have already devoted their full time to serving their country.

The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) provides exclusive academic benefits to military personnel and their families. Each military branch has their corresponding program, which includes the Army’s SOCAD, the Navy’s SOCNAV, the Marine Corps’ SOCMAR, the Coast Guard’s (SOC-COAST), the Army Reserve’s (ConAP) and the Army National Guard’s SOCGuard.