The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium was created in 1972 to provide education opportunities to service members who, because they frequently moved from place to place, had trouble completing college degrees. The SOC functions in cooperation with 15 higher education associations, the Department of Defense and active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Components service members to expand and improve voluntary postsecondary education opportunities for service members worldwide. The SOC is funded by the DoD through a contract with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The contract is managed for DoD by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support.
Overview of the SOC Consortium
Approximately 1,850 institutional members enroll hundreds of thousands of service members annually in associate, bachelor's and graduate-level degree programs on school campuses, armories and military installations within the United States and overseas through a variety of distance learning methods. Recognizing the problems faced by military students whose jobs require frequent moves, SOC Consortium member schools make it easier to obtain college degrees, rather than just accumulate course credit, in the following ways:
- Limiting the amount of course work students must take at a single college to no more than 25 percent of degree requirements (30 percent for degrees offered 100 percent online), specifically avoiding any "final year" or "final semester" residency requirement
- Designing transfer practices to minimize loss of credit and avoid duplication of course work
- Awarding credit for military training and experience
- Awarding credit for nationally-recognized tests such as the College-Level Examination Program, DANTES Standardized Subject Tests and UExcel Exams (formerly known as Excelsior College Exams)
The SOC Degree Network System
The SOC Degree Network System consists of a subgroup of SOC Consortium member institutions selected by the military services to deliver specific associate and bachelor's degree programs to service members in their off-duty hours. These degree programs are delivered in classrooms on or near military installations in the United States and overseas, on Navy and Coast Guard ships or through distance learning courses offered online, through CD, mobile devices, television, radio, correspondence, etc. The SOC Degree Network System degree programs are also available to family members of active-duty service members.
The SOC Degree Network System includes the Degree Network System-2 for associate degrees and the Degree Network System-4 for bachelor's degrees. The SOC operates the Degree Network System for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard known as SOCAD, SOCNAV, SOCMAR and SOCCOAST, respectively.
Key components of the Degree Network System include the following:
- A "home college" where military students complete their academic residency — When military obligations cause a change in their education plan, students transfer their courses and military experience credits obtained at the new location back to the home college, which awards the degree when all its requirements are met.
- A DNS Student Agreement that acts as a contract-for-degree between the home college and service member — The Student Agreement is a degree plan that evaluates all prior learning, lists academic requirements and guarantees award of the degree when the requirements are met.
- Guaranteed transferability of college credits — Within Guaranteed-Transfer Networks, core member colleges that offer at least one degree in a Guaranteed-Transfer Network review one another's courses in major and major-related areas and guarantee two-way transferability for those courses assigned SOC Degree Network System Course Category Codes.
For more information about SOC programs, visit Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges or call 800-368-5622 or 202-368-5622.