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Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) via Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

An Overview of the OWLS CPL/PLA Process – OCED 4111

Earning Work/Life Experience Credit

What it is:

Credit for prior learning (CPL) is a term for various methods that colleges, universities, and other education or training providers use to evaluate learning that has occurred outside of the traditional academic environment.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a term used to describe the assessment of learning gained outside a traditional academic environment.

Put another way, it’s learning and knowledge that students acquire while living their lives: working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and/or studying open source courseware.

The Bachelors of Applied Arts & Sciences (BAAS) course, OCED 4111- Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), allows you to develop a competency portfolio that will act as a vehicle for transcribing your work life experience and/or non-collegiate training into college level credit. This course can only be taken if you are in the BAAS degree. Meaning your major must be Applied Arts & Sciences to enroll in OCED 4111 and only the credit awarded from this course can be applied to the BAAS degree plan. 

The credit evaluated and awarded can ONLY be applied to the Occupational Emphasis (OE) Module of the BAAS Degree. Depending on how much incoming credit you bring from previous institutions, you may not need to enroll in the PLA course, OCED 4111. The BAAS Academic Advisors will only be able to assess your incoming credit if you submit your transcripts to be evaluated by Admissions.

PLA Requirements:

To gain college credit, you must

  • Develop a portfolio of competency statements consisting of recognizing, understanding, and communicating your tasks and skills
  • Competency statements are a form of technical writing
  • The structure of the course is to direct you in proper competency statement formatting and procedures; most of the coursework is done in an independent study-style format
  • The course is offered fully online and in a hybrid setting with a couple evening classes throughout the semester

You will develop this portfolio in the PLA Course, OCED 4111, with instructions and guidance from your PLA course instructor. 

How Many Credits Can Be Earned:

  • A maximum of 24 credits can be earned from work/life experience, or
  • A maximum of 30 credits can be earned from non-collegiate training
  • Your instructor will help you determine which route is best for your situation
  • The PLA course may be repeated multiple times, but a different occupational code must be used for each portfolio to reach that max amount of 24 hours.
  • The average work/life award is 13 credits
  • Students with at least 5 years’ experience in the same industry usually benefit the most from the PLA process

Benefits of the CPL/PLA:

  • Saves substantial time and money
    • 13 credit hours are equivalent to $4674.16 in tuition and fees (2018 tuition and fees)
    • 13 credit hours are equivalent to a semester of full-time enrollment
  • Your past and/or current work experiences are valuable, and PLA aims to highlight your work and award you for it.


Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Policies-1


Dr. Todd Sherron

Asst Professor of Practice | PLA Coordinator


-Dr. Sherron teaches the PLA course and oversees the evaluation process-