SOCCOAST is a system of college curriculum networks designed by SOC for Coast Guard servicemembers and their adult family members. Networks consist of groups of colleges that have agreed to accept each other's courses in a particular program of study. Students can move freely among the colleges in a network without being reevaluated or worrying about whether or not courses will transfer. SOCCOAST-2 is the associate degree network program; SOCCOAST-4 is the bachelor's degree network program.
SOCCOAST-2 and SOCCOAST-4 colleges provide students with the opportunity to complete college degrees without losing credit because of frequent changes in duty station. Curricula, or courses of study, are offered by colleges and universities on or accessible to most Coast Guard installations worldwide.
Colleges within SOCCOAST act as "home colleges" for SOCCOAST students. Students begin their studies at their home college where they complete the required academic residency. SOCCOAST colleges and universities require no more than 25 percent of a degree program in residence, and courses taken from the college anywhere in the world at any time during study for a degree count toward residency.
After completing no more than six semester hours at the home college, SOCCOAST students are eligible for an official evaluation and SOCCOAST Student Agreement, which is a degree plan and contract-for-degree. The SOCCOAST college includes on the official evaluation appropriate credit for any previous college courses and nontraditional learning, including Coast Guard Rate and Ratings, military training courses, and results of national examinations. Credit for nontraditional learning is based on recommendations of the American Council on Education.
SOCCOAST colleges guarantee to accept in transfer courses listed in the transferability tables of the SOCCOAST-2and SOCCOAST-4 Handbooks, which are used as manuals for the SOCCOAST system by college and military counselors. These courses are transferred among network colleges without course-by-course prior approval for individual students. SOCCOAST colleges also guarantee to accept college-level General Education elective courses in specified course areas. These guarantees are in effect only when a SOCCOAST Student Agreement has been issued, and only for transfer back to the home college.
When SOCCOAST students are transferred to new duty stations, they may continue to take courses from other SOCCOAST colleges, and acquire credit for further military experience and tests. These credits are transferred back to the home college which will award the degree when all academic requirements set forth on the Student Agreement are met.
SOCCOAST students can pursue their degrees though three delivery options:
- Traditional Delivery — Courses normally are delivered through classroom-based instruction with some academic residency required.
- Distance Learning — External-degree option that allows SOCCOAST students to take courses without sitting in a traditional classroom. Courses may be by correspondence, computer, video, or other type of independent study.
- Learning Assessment Option — External-degree option that consists of approved curricula that do not require academic residency for graduation. Participating colleges and universities evaluate learning from nontraditional sources, and accept credit in transfer from other institutions.