Frequently Asked Questions
What is the SOC Degree Network System?
The SOC Degree Network System (SOCAD, SOCNAV, SOCMAR, and SOCCOAST), a subgroup of SOC Consortium members, consists of degree-granting colleges and universities that have pledged to help servicemembers and their adult family members complete college degrees by adopting policies that often exceed those of the larger SOC Consortium. For example, many courses offered by Degree Network System Core member institutions have two-way guaranteed transferability, making it easier for servicemembers to complete associate and Bachelor’s degrees no matter where they move during their military careers. The Student Agreement issued by all SOC Degree Network System member institutions provides a complete evaluation of the servicemember’s prior learning, including courses from other colleges and universities, military training courses, military occupational experience, and nationally-recognized tests, as well as clearly identifying requirements for completing the degree.
What are the SOC Degree Network System Handbooks?
The SOC Degree Network System Handbooks serve many purposes. They are guides to SOC Degree Network System features, policies, and membership requirements for colleges. They also serve as degree-planning tools for students and academic counselors, listing colleges, degrees, courses in SOC DNS Course Category Codes with guaranteed two-way transfer, and location offerings for associate and bachelor’s degree programs offered to Coast Guard personnel worldwide.
Chapter 1 gives an overview of the SOC Degree Network System and related concepts. Chapter 2 focuses on college requirements, while Chapter 3 is a guide for students. Chapter 4 highlights Student Agreement procedures and policies. Chapter 5 lists college information such as academic policies and points-of-contact, as well as degree programs and their associated delivery methods and networks. Chapter 6 lists program offerings at Coast Guard locations, including degrees offered via distance learning and learning assessment. Chapter 7 lists service-specific initiatives and specialized programs. Chapter 8 lists courses assigned to SOC DNS Course Category Codes in the Transferability Tables, organized by college and by Category Code. The Appendix includes acronyms, definitions, and forms.
Handbooks are published annually in the fall, with electronic-only updates in the spring. The most up-to-date versions of the Handbooks are available to download from this Web site. CDs and/or printed copies of the Handbooks may be obtained by submitting a request to SOC (contact information is on the SOC Home Page).
What can I study?
Many degree programs are available to you, ranging from business and management-related fields to aviation studies, computer studies, criminal justice, electronics, psychology and more. In addition, liberal arts programs are available for those desiring a more general degree. The SOC Degree Network System-2 and -4 Handbooks list associate and bachelor’s degrees by network, or academic , as well as by geographic location and college in Chapter 6.
What if I can’t attend regular classes?
Many classes are taught on or near military installations via traditional classroom delivery methods. Through Distance Learning delivery method (e.g., online, CD-ROM, USB flash drives, iPods, PDA, paper-based) and Learning Assessment, you can now earn college credit and achieve a degree anytime, anyplace. Refer to Chapter 6 in the SOC Degree Network System-2 and -4 Handbooks for colleges’ network participation in “All Sites Distance Learning” and “All Sites Learning Assessment.”
Why not just take courses from any college?
Without a degree plan and a meaningful evaluation of what you’ve already learned in the Service and elsewhere, you risk taking courses you don’t need. It is also difficult to transfer miscellaneous credits from various sources to a new college. Instead, by selecting a home college, getting a SOCCOAST Student Agreement, and satisfying your academic residency with that college, you can complete your degree plan after being relocated or leaving the military. If you are planning on using tuition assistance to fund your education, a degree plan is required by the Coast Guard. The SOCCOAST Student Agreement is your degree plan.
Why is a Student Agreement important?
A SOCCOAST Student Agreement gives you an upfront, cumulative evaluation of everything you’ve done that can be credited toward your college degree. Most importantly, it lists what courses and degree requirements you must still take to graduate from your home college. You will not have to be re-evaluated each time you go to another military installation or if you take courses from a college other than your home college. As long as you complete the academic residency required by your home college (usually 25% of the program), you can take approved courses from other colleges to complete your degree plan as you relocate during your military career. Keep your Student Agreement, update it as you complete degree requirements, and avoid taking unnecessary courses by referring to it each time you register. You can think of your Student Agreement as a “contract for degree” between you and your home college. Spouses and adult children of servicemembers are also eligible to participate in the SOC Degree Network System and receive Student Agreements.
Will all my previously earned credits be accepted when I enroll in a SOC Degree Network System degree program?
Not necessarily. There is no guaranteed course transferability for academic work completed prior to enrolling in a SOC Degree Network System degree. Transfer credit must satisfy specific degree requirements of the home college. You will work with your home college adviser after enrollment to ensure that future course selection (from your home college or approved courses from another institution) will meet degree requirements.
Does a Student Agreement obligate me to anything?
No. You may certainly change degree programs and/or home colleges as your education goals change. However, switching to a different degree program or college (even if both are in the SOC Degree Network System) can result in credit loss, so it’s important to discuss your decision with the staff at your Coast Guard Education Services Office. As a courtesy, students should notify their home college that they no longer plan to pursue that degree.
What does a Student Agreement cost?
There is no cost for a Student Agreement. Colleges that are SOC Degree Network System member institutions promise to offer a full evaluation and complete a Student Agreement for all military students pursuing one of their Degree Network System degrees. Learning assessment institutions, however, typically charge a fee prior to issuing an official evaluation of prior learning.
What is academic residency?
Academic residency refers to the number of credit hours within a degree program that must be taken with the degree-granting college — not necessarily on campus, but also from the college’s offerings on a military installation, satellite campus, or distance learning program. SOC Degree Network System institutions limit academic residency requirements for military students to no more than 25% of the undergraduate program. For degree programs offered entirely online by one institution, the academic residency may be 30% or less. If possible, satisfy academic residency before you are reassigned, unless you know that you will return or can take distance-learning courses from your home college. If you find it impossible to complete academic residency requirements through traditional classroom instruction or distance learning from your home college, ask your military counselor about a learning assessment degree program that requires little or no residency or a distance learning provider that lets you satisfy academic residency through courses delivered outside of a classroom. Colleges may have different policies governing academic residency, so you should also speak to your college counselor about how best to meet the residency requirements.
Should I request a new Student Agreement when I transfer to my next duty assignment or take courses at a different college?
No. Your Student Agreement remains in effect as a "contract for degree" as long as you continue working on the degree listed on that Student Agreement. Continue communicating with your home college to ensure that courses you take at other colleges (as a non-degree seeking student or visiting student) will transfer to the home college to fulfill the degree requirements on your Student Agreement. If your home college is a SOC Degree Network System Core member institution, you can take advantage of the two-way guaranteed transferability of courses assigned a SOC DNS Course Category Code to make it easy to transfer courses from other colleges back to your home college.
Can I take courses from any SOC Degree Network System institution and transfer them to my home college?
Courses you take from other institutions should be selected to fulfill a degree requirement on your Student Agreement. If the applicable course has a SOC DNS Course Category Code, you may take a course listed in the Transferability Tables with the same Code from another SOC Degree Network System college, knowing that transferability is assured. Check your home college’s Course Index in Chapter 8 of the Handbooks or visit the Guaranteed-Transfer Courses section of this Web site. If the course does not have an assigned SOC DNS Course Category Code, you will need to ask the home college for written permission before you take a course from another college. In either case, you will need to send a transcript verifying completion of the other college’s course back to your home college.
How does the SOC Degree Network System guarantee course transfer?
Any college with a course listed in the Transferability Tables under a particular SOC DNS Course Category has already reviewed the other courses assigned to that category and agreed to accept them in transfer. To view your home college’s categorized courses, check the Course Index in Chapter 8 of the Handbooks or visit the Guaranteed-Transfer Courses section of this Web site.
What happens if I decide to switch schools or degree programs?
You may certainly change degree programs and/or home colleges as your education goals change. Discuss your decision with the staff at your Coast Guard Education Services Office. Keep in mind that if you change to another SOC Degree Network System college, you will need to complete the 25% academic residency with the new home college. It is also likely that not all of the credits you have earned will transfer to the new home college and the new degree you have chosen to pursue.
What happens if I leave the military before graduating?
Your Student Agreement remains in effect, even if you leave the military before graduating. Continue taking courses and earn your degree from your home college. See College Information Pages in Chapter 5 for time limits to complete degrees.
Can my family benefit from SOCCOAST?
Yes. Your spouse and adult children can receive SOCCOAST Student Agreements that will help them complete associate or bachelor’s degrees, as they relocate with you during your military career.
How can I get financial assistance for my studies?
The staff at your Coast Guard Education Services Office is the best source of information on financial assistance.