Credit for Prior Learning

Prior Learning Assessment

The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program allows students to earn credit for learning that occurs outside the sponsorship of accredited postsecondary education institutions. PLA is not awarded for experience but for college-level learning which includes knowledge, skills and competencies that students have obtained as a result of their prior learning experiences. PLA credit is awarded through the following methods:

  • Correspondence and extension courses
  • Individual study and reading
  • Civic, community, and volunteer work
  • Participation in formal courses and in-service training sponsored by associations, businesses, government, and industry

You may use Prior Learning Assessment to fulfill all degree/certificate graduation requirements except for the mandatory residency requirements.

PLA Credit Guidelines

  • PLA credit may be awarded if the following standards have been met:
    • You have been admitted to PCC
    • You have declared a degree or certificate
    • Your prior learning is equivalent to college level
  • PLA credit may only be awarded for courses and credits required in your declared degree or certificate
  • PLA credit may satisfy course prerequisite requirements
  • PLA credit cannot be used to satisfy the PCC or degree / certificate residency requirements
  • All work evaluated for PLA credit must meet or exceed ‘C’ level work
  • PLA credit cannot duplicate any previously awarded credit
  • PLA credit is specifically noted on the transcript as such and is considered transfer coursework (and not institutional coursework):
    • PLA credit is not calculated into your grade point average (GPA)
    • PLA credit noted on your transcript will have a grade of ‘PLA’
    • If the PLA credit assessment determines that the prior learning does not warrant the awarding of credit, or if the standardized/institutional exam is not passed, the PLA credit does not appear on your transcript
  • PLA credits are not included as part of your semester enrollment for the purposes of financial aid, veteran benefits or any other purpose predicated on total hours of enrollment for a given semester

Ways to Earn PLA Credit

Institutional Challenge Exams

These are faculty-developed tests that will assess your mastery of the competencies for courses being taught at PCC.

National Standardized Placement Tests

You may earn college credit through certain standardized testing.  These tests could include:

  • CLEP Exams
  • DSST Exams
  • UExcel Excelsior College Exams
  • AP (Advanced Placement) Exams
  • IB Exams

If you have taken on of the standardized exams, order an official transcripts/score report and have it sent to PCC Records Office.

Portfolio Assessment

Knowledge and skills acquired through work and lifelong learning may be evaluated and validated through a formal portfolio assessment process.

Industry and Workplace Credit

PCC may evaluate non-collegiate instructional programs that result in industry certification, professional licensure, apprenticeship completion, and other workplace skills development.  Faculty subject-matter experts will evaluate the prior learning and identify if the learning warrants the awarding of credit.

For additional information on college credit opportunities through PLA, please contact the Admissions & Records office at


Admissions & Records Office

Student Center, Room 260