Assessment of Prior Learning

Prior Learning is a term used to describe a range of learning that has occurred outside of the traditional academic environment and can be articulated toward college-level learning and credit. Forms of Prior Learning accepted for credit by the College for Creative studies are detailed on the College’s website at Transfer Credit Resources. These include Credit awarded through Military Service (Military Credit),  Credit by Examination (CBE) such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), “College Level Entrance Placement (C.L.E.P.), A-Levels, etc. This can also include credit granted through Prior Learning Assessment at CCS.

Prior Learning Assessment 

Prior Learning Assessment provides CCS with a method to formally evaluate learning that has happened outside of the traditional academic environment and, when appropriate, award college credit for this experiential learning. 

Students seeking a PLA will define and describe the learning acquired in a formatted portfolio utilizing a written narrative* and when appropriate, work examples completed by the student demonstrating skill in visual art and/or design. 

The portfolio is evaluated to determine college level competencies that may have been acquired through work and life experience (often called experiential learning), or through the acquisition of alternative credentials or certifications.

Applying Prior Learning Toward Undergraduate Degree Requirements

  • Students may be awarded up to 30 credit hours through Prior Learning toward undergraduate degree program requirements. This includes any and all combinations of credit earned through Prior Learning Assessment, Military Credit, Articulated or Direct Credit, and Credit by Examination.
  • Prior Learning Credit awarded at outside institutions (including concurrent, direct, or articulated credit awarded in partnership with outside High School and College programs) will not be accepted in transfer. Students interested in earning credit for these courses prior to enrolling will be required to complete a Prior Learning Assessment at CCS.
  • Credit through Prior Learning assessment is only applicable to CCS’ Undergraduate Studies Programs.
  • Credit earned through Prior Learning Assessment at CCS is subject to changes in program requirements. Should new students need to delay their start or pause their studies, newly awarded credit earned through Prior Learning Assessment will be honored for a maximum of two consecutive academic years.
  • Students seeking credit through Prior Learning Assessment by portfolio must complete this process prior to reaching senior level at CCS (i.e. completion of 92.5 credits).

Deadlines for Prior Learning Credit Inquiries and Assessment:

  • Students Seeking PLA Credit for Fall Semester (September start)
    Last day to initiate PLA Inquiry: March 1st 
    Last day to submit all assessment documentation, support & fees: June 30th
  • Students Seeking PLA Credit for Winter Semester (January Start)
    Last day to initiate PLA Inquiry: July 1st 
    Last day to submit assessment documentation, support & fees: September 15th

frequently asked questions

What are the formatting requirements for Prior Learning Assessment portfolios at CCS?

Specific formats, details, and supporting artifacts are required for Studio and Liberal Arts-based courses. Once your Prior Learning Assessment Coordinator determines you may be eligible to pursue this option, they will provide you with the details and aid you in organizing your visual and/or written portfolio.

Who evaluates the portfolios?

Faculty from the department(s) you are seeking credit for will evaluate your portfolio artifacts. Any credit awarded through Prior Learning Assessment is matched to a specific course requirement at CCS which is determined by the designated faculty assessor.

What are reasons for denial of credit?

Common reasons for denial of credit can include:

  • Evidence presented is inadequate
  • Learning statement is too brief
  • Evidence does not support knowledge of topics in course description
  • Learning statement related to how student’s knowledge was acquired is unclear
  • Authenticity of evidence is unclear
  • Course requested is inappropriate for evidence presented (in this case, credit may be awarded as elective credit provided the student’s program includes elective requirements)

Can I appeal if credit for my PLA petition was denied?

If a credit through Prior Learning Assessment is denied, students will have the opportunity to view and discuss the rationale for the decision with their PLA Coordinator and determine if they would like to appeal and have their portfolio re-evaluated. A re-evaluation may be warranted if:

  • More documentation has become available since submitting the portfolio.
  • The assessors’ feedback indicates a more accurate potential course match in the CCS catalog.
  • There are errors or content missing in the Learning Narrative that the student can confidently address if provided the opportunity.
  • The explanation provided for the denial of credit is insufficient or unsatisfactory to the student. Note, this rationale alone is unlikely to result in credit and every effort should be made by the student to address any specific comments or feedback provided before requesting a new evaluation.

If a student believes a re-evaluation is merited, they have 30 business days from the date of their initial decision notification to appeal. Additional supporting artifacts and/or details will increase the likelihood of success in the student’s petition. In formulating a request for a re-evaluation, students should pay special attention to any comments provided in the initial decision and the basis for it.  

If an appeal is pursued, the following stipulations apply: 

  • A maximum of two appeals are allowed following the initial decision. 
  • Requests must be submitted in writing (via email) to the designated PLA coordinator.
  • Students must notify their PLA coordinators when the updated portfolio and additional documentation are submitted/uploaded.

Students should also be mindful of the deadlines to submit the PLA portfolio. If they do not believe they will be able to complete revisions or provide additional supporting artifacts in a timely manner, the Assessment fee can be rolled over once to a future term so long as the assessment is completed within 4 consecutive academic terms.

Is coursework awarded through Prior Learning Assessment at CCS accepted in transfer credit at other colleges?

In general, each college and university determines its own processes and standards placing credit awarded based on Prior Learning Assessment. CCS makes no claims regarding assurance of transfer or applicability to outside institutions. Credit awarded through Prior Learning Assessment at CCS is intended to apply to the program and catalog year for which a student has been admitted.

How does credit earned through PLA apply toward a degree?

If granted by faculty, credit earned through Prior Learning Assessment is awarded like most other forms of transferred credit. Any form of Prior Learning Credits will be noted as “CR” on the academic evaluation and credit earned in transfer does not factor into a student’s cumulative grade point average.

Do all CCS programs allow students to earn credit through Prior Learning Assessment?

Coursework awarded for CCS equivalents based on Prior Learning Assessment will be completed on a case-by-case basis and is at the discretion of the faculty. Departments may limit participation to specific courses. See PLA Coordinator for details.

March 12, 2024

April 1, 2024

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