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Credit for Prior Learning 

What is Credit for Prior Learning?

Prior learning is learning gained through life or work outside structured higher educational courses. Many people learn through their experiences in life such as those in professional endeavors (through business, the military, continuing education, certifications, or other work/training experiences) or through other educational experiences (through community work, family, travel, or personal study). Students can acquire learning from various sources outside the traditional classroom, and they can earn appropriate credit in their work towards a degree for verifiable college-level learning acquired through life or work experience, not for the experience itself.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

PLA is a process through which students identify areas of relevant learning from their experiences, demonstrate that learning through appropriate documentation, and submit their materials so that they can be assessed and possibly awarded academic credit relative to specific course objectives at Georgia Southern University.

Earning College Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)

One of the goals of college-level education is to prepare responsible, reflective citizens who adapt constructively to change. College-level education also helps students become critical thinkers and problem-solvers in an ever-changing world. Students who acquire the level of knowledge that meets the expectations and the learning outcomes of a specific course may get credit for that course, provided they can demonstrate proficiency in that specific course.

All students are eligible for CPL via exams such as CLEP, AP, IB. To be eligible for credit by portfolio, licensure or credential, students must have significant work experience, non-credit bearing credentials, associate’s degrees, nationally recognized certificates or nationally recognized licenses. Eligible students register for a portfolio preparation course and subsequently request a review of their portfolio. Credit may be awarded upon successful completion of the PLA process: 

Students should be aware that medical, dental, and other professional schools may not recognize CPL in their admissions processes. Students should verify acceptance by their intended program.

The Benefit of Receiving Credit for Prior Learning 

Receiving CPL may reduce the repetition of relevant course-related material for students with prior learning (or with prior degrees) and may reduce the time and money required to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree. PLA does require fees such as testing (e.g., departmental examinations, standardized tests) or portfolio assessment; however, in general, PLA should take less time and money to complete than taking regular classes.

Ways to receive credit for prior learning

Credit by Examination

Georgia Southern University awards Credit by Examination (CBE) when scores on national standardized examinations (CLEP, DSST, CAPE, DANTES, AP, IB, or AICE, or departmental proficiency exam) or other academic experience strongly indicates that the student has acquired the information or skills related to given courses of instruction offered by the university.

In evaluating submissions for possible credit, the university utilizes the American Council on Education (ACE) principles, a national association of higher education institutions. ACE serves adult learners by evaluating and translating workplace learning and non-traditional education experiences into academic credits, and armed services members by evaluating and recommending equivalent college credits for military training and experience.

Credit awarded by examination can be given only for courses officially approved for academic credit by the university. The credit (noted with a grade of K) carries no academic grade or affects the grade point average. A student who has earned a grade other than a W in the course may not earn CLEP or DSST credit for the course. 

Credit by Military Service

SACSCOC Principle 9.4 states, “At least 25 percent of the credit hours required for an undergraduate degree are earned through instruction offered by the institution awarding the degree.” Beyond this requirement, there is no limit on the amount of semester credit hours that can be awarded for military service/experience. Joint Service Transcript (JST), DD-214, or transcripts from the Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System (AARTS), Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), Coast Guard Institute (CGI), and other appropriate transcripts will be reviewed for possible credit based on recommendations by the American Council on Education (ACE) and course approvals by the Deans at Georgia Southern University.

In evaluating JST transcripts for possible credit, the university utilizes the American Council on Education (ACE) principles, a national association of higher education institutions. ACE serves armed services members by evaluating and recommending equivalent college credits for military training and experience.

Prospective and accepted students who have prior military service should contact Military & Veteran Services to learn more.

Credit by Portfolio

A student may request consideration of a portfolio of work for credit for any course in the Georgia Southern Catalog, but the eligibility for portfolio credit is not guaranteed. Traditional instructional methods are deemed more appropriate for specific courses, and portfolio based credit is not optimal for all courses.

Courses available for completion through CLEP, proficiency examination, DANTES, DSST, CAPE, AICE, and DSST methods of earning credit will not be eligible for credit through the portfolio process. Also, courses for which the student has already registered are not eligible.

This process requires students to prepare and submit a collection of documents that establish and support their claim that they have specific relevant skills, knowledge, values, attitudes, understandings, achievements, experiences, competencies, training, and certifications aligned with specific course objectives. The portfolio developed not only describes the relevant experience but must also identify the particular learning outcomes. Students must offer a critical self-assessment of what college-level learning has been acquired through selected non-traditional experiences. 

Students wishing to pursue the portfolio option must:

  • Complete the online request to enroll in the self-paced, online portfolio development course, indicating the course(s) in which they desire to submit a portfolio (link to be added later). Students need to complete the course one time, regardless of the number of portfolios submitted.
  • Pay the fee for the course. (link to be added later)
  • Complete the Academic Honesty Statement
  • Within six months of completing the portfolio development course, submit the final portfolio(s) online to the Office of Adult and Online Learning. A separate portfolio must be prepared for each course for which a student is seeking credit, but the preparation course only need only to be taken one time. 
  • Students may petition to submit a portfolio past the 6 month period, but before 3 years have passed. If it has been 3 years since completing the portfolio course, the student must retake the portfolio course.
  • Once students complete and submit the PLA portfolio, assessors will evaluate it to determine if the portfolio provides evidence that ties those skills to a specific course objective. If the portfolio does so, credit (K) may be awarded when assessors determine that the prior learning is acceptable for credit.

Students should be aware that medical, dental, and other professional schools may not recognize course Credit by portfolio in their admissions processes. Students should check with their intended program to assure acceptance.

Credit for prior certifications, licensure or board exam

Georgia Southern will award credit for prior credentials (certificates, licenses etc) from a regionally accredited college or university or other industry or nationally accepted certificates. Credit awarded is at the discretion of the academic unit and credit is not guaranteed. 

Students who wish to receive credit for a certificate, licensure or board exam must do the following:

  • Complete the request for credit by certification, detailing the specific credential information including date completed. (link to be added later). 
  • Depending on the type of credential the student may be asked to complete a portfolio (see credit by portfolio above) to assure that the credential meets college-level student learning outcomes.
  • Credential holders may be asked to take a proficiency exam, demonstrate specific competencies, or produce a portfolio to assure that the certification meets specific course and college level student learning outcomes. 
  • Some academic units may require that the student complete the next level course successfully to award credit from prior credentials.

Learn more about the prior learning policy in the University Catalog.

Last updated: 5/17/2023