Earn Credit for What You Know with Prior Learning Assessment

Why take - and pay for - classes in subjects you have already mastered?

When people receive college credit for what they know from life and work experience, they earn their degrees and credentials faster, saving money on tuition. They also learn the value of their life experiences, which gives them confidence to complete their degrees.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a process of identifying and measuring your previous learning that has the potential to receive academic credit and could reduce the amount of courses you have to take to complete your degree or certificate program. Prior Learning Assessment can save you time and money. Not all methods apply equally to all programs, so be sure to ask an academic advisor about PLA as you enter a new program. 


Build a Learning Portfolio

Through an instructor-led course (either face to face or online) an adult student can develop a portfolio that demonstrates learning experiences and outcomes. The Learning Portfolio is then evaluated by faculty members and recommendations are made about the amount and content area of credit to be awarded. Many colleges offer Portfolio Development courses.

LearningCounts.org offers two courses designed to lead you through the process of documenting your learning portfolio. If you have learned significantly from experience at work or from your favorite hobbies, you may be qualified to earn college credits through the portfolio process. For more information about Prior Learning Assessment and building a  portfolio, visit LearningCounts, the premier place to earn college credit for what you already know.

Challenge Exams (Credit by Examination)

If you have knowledge comparable to what would be gained by successfully completing a course, you may be able to obtain credit by passing a "challenge examination." These are usually standardized examinations. If there isn’t a standardized examination for the course or topic you have prior learning in, the school may make other arrangements for you.

Military Training 

College credit for certain successfully completed military training programs is outlined in the "Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Forces," prepared by the American Council on Education. The education provider determines the number of credits they will award for each program. You must obtain official documentation (dates, locations, course titles, identification numbers, and other supporting information) from your branch of the military and submit them to the school for evaluation.

For more information about military training transcripts, visit the American Council on Education

Transfer Credit

When entering a program, you may be asked to provide official transcripts from high school and colleges you attended. These will be evaluated for the potential of transfer into your EPCE program. If you have taken courses you think may substitute for courses in this program, contact your academic advisor.

Industry Training

Earning college credit for what you’ve already learned in an accredited training program is a very efficient way to work towards an industry-specific degree. Employees in the nuclear industry who have completed accredited training programs can obtain college credit towards a Nuclear Technology degree with Excelsior College. Learn more.

For additional questions about Prior Learning Assessment, contact an EPCE Education Consultant.