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Phoenix Forward

Earning college credits through Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment for college credit

Applying past experience and training can save time and money

For many of us, learning doesn’t just take place in classrooms. We all have everyday lives, careers and experiences that teach us valuable lessons — whether we happen to be sitting in front of a chalkboard or not. That’s why University of Phoenix offers students Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).

PLA gives undergraduate students the opportunity to apply relevant past learning, professional training and life experiences toward college credits at the University. The PLA process lets qualifying students save time and money on their degree by earning credits for knowledge they’ve gained outside of the classroom, during or before their time at the University.

How PLA works

Through the PLA process, students can fulfill some of the elective, interdisciplinary and general education courses required for their degree. In order to be eligible for PLA credits, candidates must be an associate’s or bachelor’s student who has already been accepted into the University, and must have remaining general education or elective credits required for their degree.

“Prior Learning Assessment can be an excellent way for certain students to gain credits for knowledge they already have,” said Nathan Cicchillo, associate director of PLA and Corporate/College Articulation. “Whether they’ve taken an employer training workshop through their job or have undergone a new personal health and nutrition plan through their health care provider, PLA can be an effective way to apply these experiences toward their education where appropriate.”

Through PLA you may be eligible to apply relevant past learning, professional training and life experience for college credit.

There may be a one-time submission fee and a fee per credit assessed and applied. Application to the PLA process does not guarantee credits will be applied, so it’s important for students to read the qualifications carefully and speak with one of the University’s academic advisors to see whether their particular experiences qualify for credits.

Qualifying for credits

For University of Phoenix students interested in earning PLA credits, there are two ways to qualify:

1. Create a Professional Training Portfolio.
Professional training — such as seminars, courses, licenses and certificates — and prior credits from an unaccredited college may be eligible for PLA. Creating a Professional Training Portfolio includes a description of the professional training or past learning, the date it was completed, the number of hours it satisfied and any other essential information.

2. Write an Experiential Essay.
Life experience and expertise may also be eligible for PLA. Experiential Essays are selected from a list of approved topics and must be written in David Kolb’s experiential learning model (his popularized method for mastering new concepts).

University of Phoenix understands the importance of lifelong learning. Through Prior Learning Assessment, students are able to combine past real-world knowledge with current classroom learning to better prepare for their future. Before applying to the PLA process, students should reach out to a University of Phoenix academic advisor to discuss their individual experiences, program requirements and academic goals.