What is Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the process for evaluating knowledge acquired outside of the classroom for college credit. PLA is often more affordable for students, and takes less time than taking colleges courses. While you cannot earn an entire degree through PLA, you may be able to earn a significant amount of PLA credit through your college or university.
Before beginning any form of Prior Learning Assessment, ask your adviser if it will be accepted as part of your degree plan.
There Are Multiple Approaches to Prior Learning Assessment
Prior Learning Assessment is not just one method or tool. It includes options such as:
- Portfolio Assessment—Evaluations of student portfolios, like those offered through our Featured Network Institutions
- National College Credit Recommendation Service— evaluates learning experiences for non-collegiate organizations
- Advanced Placement (AP) Exams—A series of tests developed by the College Board initially for AP High School courses, including 34 exams in 19 subject areas
- College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Exams—Tests of college material offered by the College Board
- DSST Credit by Exam Program—Formerly known as the
DANTES Program, owned and administered by Prometric, tests knowledge of
both lower-level and upper-level college material through 38 exams
- Excelsior/UExcel Credit by Exam Program—tests
knowledge of lower-level college material; awarded Excelsior College
credit can be transferred to other colleges and universities
- American Council on Education (ACE) Guides—Published
credit recommendations for formal instructional programs offered by
non-collegiate agencies, both civilian employers and the military
- Challenge Exams—Local tests developed by a college to verify learning achievement