Voluntary Education Programs

The Department of Defense (DoD) off-duty, Voluntary Education Programs constitute one of the largest continuing education programs in the world. Each year, approximately 300,000 Service members enroll in postsecondary courses leading to associate, bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees. Colleges and universities, through an extensive network, deliver classroom instruction to hundreds of military installations around the world. Service members are also afforded opportunities to earn college credits for learning that has taken place outside the traditional classroom.

  • Voluntary Education Programs include: high school completion and GEDs; basic academic skills; college courses (traditional classroom and on-line delivery both on- and off-military installations); college credit by exam; licensure and certification; language and cultural programs; tuition assistance (TA), and Navy College Programs for Afloat College Education (NC PACE) for Sailors stationed aboard a ship.
  • There are 204 education centers worldwide to include contingency areas (Afghanistan)
  • In FY 12: 286,665 Service members enrolled in 874,094 postsecondary courses, and earned 50,497 degrees and certifications.

Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two- or four-year institutions on-installation, off-installation, or by distance learning. The educational institution must be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education. Tuition assistance is paid directly to the educational institution by the Service member’s Military Service. Service members need to first check with their education counselor for the specifics involving TA with either a visit to their local installation education office or by going on-line to a virtual education center.

To the extent that space is otherwise available, eligible adult family members of Service members, DoD civilian employees and their eligible adult family members, and military retirees may enroll in postsecondary education programs offered on a military installation at no cost to the individual Service TA Programs.