Credit for Prior Learning

Last Updated 11/16/2023

Prior learning assessment (aka recognition of prior learning) is a term used for various methods of valuing college-level learning that has taken place outside of formal educational institutions, that can be assessed to count toward degrees or other credentials. Common assessment methods: (1) Standardized examination such as students earning credit by successfully completing exams such as Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Excelsior exams (UExcel), DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST).(2) Faculty-developed challenge exam in which students take a comprehensive examination developed by campus faculty. (3) Portfolio-based and other individualized assessment in which students prepare a portfolio or demonstration of their learning from a variety of experiences and non-credit activities and faculty evaluate the portfolio and award credit as appropriate. (4) Evaluation of non-college programs in which students earn credit based on recommendations provided by the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) and the American Council on Education (ACE) that conduct evaluations of training offered by employers or the military. Institutions also conduct their own review of programs, including coordinating with workforce development agencies and other training providers to develop crosswalks that map between external training/credentials and existing degree programs.

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