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Human Resources

Educational Equivalency

Incorporating educational equivalencies into a position description can help attract a broader, more diverse applicant pool because equivalencies allow for substitutions between education and experience.

What is an educational equivalency?

In job descriptions established for use as part of the university's compensation structure, some job titles allow for the use of an educational equivalency. Job titles that allow for an educational equivalency are noted in their job description by the following statement: This position may use an educational equivalency as determined relevant by a hiring manager.

If indicated on the job description, an educational equivalency is an option available to hiring managers when they are recruiting a position. Prior to job posting, hiring managers should consider if an educational equivalency is appropriate and will be used. The matrix below illustrates how to apply an educational equivalency.

Educational equivalency matrix

Kansas State University uses a 1:1 ratio when evaluating minimum education/experience requirements (e.g., a bachelor's degree is equivalent to four years of relevant experience). When applying education toward relevant experience, every 30 hours of undergraduate education and every 18 hours of graduate education is equal to one year of experience.

This equivalency chart illustrates the education/experience equivalencies and does not include any additional required experience that may be needed for a job. A general education diploma (GED) is considered equivalent to a high school diploma.

Printer friendly version (pdf).

educational equivalency matrix



If a job requires a bachelor's degree plus three years of relevant experience, an applicant with an associate degree would require a total of five years of relevant experience (associate degree + two years of experience = the bachelor's degree requirement and three additional years of experience fulfills the relevant experience requirement).

If a job requires three years of relevant experience, an applicant with 90 hours of undergraduate education would be qualified (90 hours / 30 hours = 3 years of experience) as would an applicant with an associate degree and one year of relevant experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why would I do this?

Hiring managers would opt for an educational equivalency—when indicated in the job description—if they want to find the best candidates and diversify their candidate pool. Many available job seekers have grown within their profession, but may not have pursued a formal education. When formal education is required for a position, hiring managers may be limiting or excluding vastly experienced candidates who may be successful in the role. 

What kinds of positions are appropriate for accepting equivalent experience?

Appropriate positions have an educational requirement beyond a high school diploma and a knowledge base that can be learned "on-the-job." Positions that allow for educational equivalency are indicated in their job description within the compensation structure using the statement “This position may use an educational equivalency as determined relevant by a hiring manager.” Jobs that do not include this statement within the compensation structure are not eligible for the educational equivalency.

If I accept equivalent experience, will an influx of job seekers submit their resumes for the position?

Accepting equivalent experience will likely increase the depth of the candidate pool, providing a greater opportunity to find the best available candidate. If a candidate pool gets too large, your talent acquisition strategic partner can help you focus on the top candidates.

As a higher education institution shouldn't we prefer job seekers who have a higher degree of education?

As employees of an institution of higher education, we value the benefits of a higher education. As an employer of choice, we also actively seek to diversify our workforce and select the best candidates for each open career opportunity. It would be incorrect to assume that candidates without a post-secondary education fail to offer valuable skills and experiences that would benefit the University. Limiting candidate pools to only those with a higher education may not always be the best approach to recruiting highly talented staff.

What does relevant work experience mean?

Relevant work experience demonstrates skills or knowledge comparable to those required for your position. Relevancy is determined by the position supervisor and/or hiring manager.

Additional assistance

When recruiting a position, consider the needs of the position and whether or not accepting equivalent experience is appropriate for the situation. The position description submitted through PageUp for review should reflect that you are electing to accept an educational equivalency for the position. Questions about appropriateness of utilizing an educational equivalency can be directed to Compensation and Organizational Effectiveness or your department’s HR liaison. Additionally, communicate with your talent acquisition strategic partner so they can ensure that your posting reflects the correct verbiage and will be sure to review candidate resumes appropriately.