Assessments of Prior Learning
In some cases, students can receive course credits based on college-level knowledge and skills gained outside the college classroom, including employment and military training and service. Identifying prior learning that is eligible for college credit can make a student’s education more affordable and reduce the time to a degree or certificate.
What is Prior Learning Assessment?
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the process used to evaluate previous life experience for academic credit. Colleges and universities in Washington may use several different PLA methods to award credit for prior learning. Some PLA methods cost a student more than others, but any PLA credit-earning method will typically cost less than tuition to enroll in the equivalent course. In addition, when PLA credit is earned, it may allow the student to enroll in, or advance to, higher-level courses.
Prior Learning Assessment in Washington
Prior Learning is defined as the knowledge and skills gained through work and life experience, through military training and experience, or through formal and informal education and training from in-state and out-of-state institutions, including foreign institutions.
Prior Learning Assessment is accomplished through standardized tests (i.e. CLEP and DANTES), course challenge examinations, portfolio assessment, and crosswalks between work-based learning and college courses.
Prior Learning Assessment on Campuses
Every college and university in Washington offers some form of Prior Learning Assessment. Each institution has identified a PLA Primary Point of Contact for information about Prior Learning Assessment:
- PLA Primary Contacts - Community and Technical Colleges
- PLA Primary Contacts - Public Baccalaureate Institutions
- PLA Primary Contacts - Private Baccalaureate Institutions