CLEP Me Out of Here: The Impact of Prior Learning Assessments on College Completion

51 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017 Last revised: 8 Nov 2017

Angela Boatman

Vanderbilt University

Michael Hurwitz

College Board

Jason Lee

University of Georgia

Jonathan Smith

Georgia State University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 1, 2017


This paper estimates the impact of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) examination, a college-level exam that offers credit for student mastery of a content area in lieu of completing a course. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that passing a CLEP exam leads to a 17 percent (5.7 percentage points) increase in associate degree completion for students at two-year colleges and a 2.6 percent (1.2 percentage point) increase in bachelor’s degree completion for students at four-year colleges. CLEP also serves and impacts subpopulations historically hard to track in educational data. For example, two-year college enrollees who earn a credit-granting CLEP score and are in the military, older than 24, and were home schooled are 18.1, 19.5, and 62.8 percent more likely to obtain an associate degree, respectively. The impacts from this inexpensive, credit-producing intervention are at least as large in magnitude as most other programs designed to improve degree completion.

Suggested Citation

Boatman, Angela and Hurwitz, Michael and Lee, Jason and Smith, Jonathan, CLEP Me Out of Here: The Impact of Prior Learning Assessments on College Completion (November 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Angela Boatman

Vanderbilt University ( email )

230 Appleton Place
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Michael Hurwitz

College Board ( email )

1919 M Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Jason Lee

University of Georgia ( email )

United States

Jonathan Smith (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views