Prior Learning Assessment

The Utah Board of Higher Education wants to provide students with more options to demonstrate college-level learning from their previous educational, work, or life experiences to help them complete their degree requirements as quickly as possible. Prior learning assessments:

  • Save students time and money as they work on their degrees
  • Increase the likelihood of students enrolling in college
  • Increase the number of courses students complete at a campus compared with students without PLA credits
  • Increase completion rates
  • Can be an important tool for closing equity gaps

You can save time and money by earning college credit for what you already know from advanced high school coursework, work experience, military training, entrepreneurship, professional licensure, or volunteer work. To earn credit, that experience must relate to college-level knowledge, aligned with particular college classes that fall with your degree plan.

There are many options available at public colleges and universities in Utah.

Did you take advanced classes in high school?
You could earn college credits for prior learning through standardized national exams. 

Advanced Placement
Students who take an Advanced Placement course through their high school can register for the corresponding AP test for about $90 and earn college credits. More information is available on the official AP website. To see how your test scores are applied at public colleges and universities in Utah, see the Credit by Examination table

International Baccalaureate
The International Baccalaureate is an internationally accepted qualification program for students who have completed a specific two-year high school curriculum and demonstrated competency through exams in languages, experimental sciences, social sciences, and mathematics. More information is available on the International Baccalaureate website. To see how your test scores are applied at public colleges and universities in Utah, see the Credit by Examination table

Are you interested in testing out of a college course or learning how your military or workplace experience might earn you college credits for prior learning? You have options!

College-Level Examination Program 
CLEP tests take between 90-120 minutes, cost around $90 (although some people are eligible for fee waivers), and are offered in five general areas and 29 subjects. For more information visit the CLEP website. To see how your test scores are applied at public colleges and universities in Utah, see the Credit by Examination table

Dantes Subject Standardized Test
DSST offers testing in 39 subjects for military personnel, including active duty, Guard and Reserve components, U.S. Coast Guard, and USCG Reserve members; US Coast Guard spouses; and Air Force Civil Service employees. More details on the DSST website. To see how your test scores are applied at public colleges and universities in Utah, see the Credit by Examination table

Workplace Training Evaluations
Students with workplace education, training, and professional experiences may want to be evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE). You could be eligible to earn credit to help jump-start your college career and open up new employment opportunities. More information is available through the National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training

Professional Licensure
Professional licensure requirements sometimes meet the requirements of certificate or degree programs at Utah’s public colleges and universities. Check with your college or university to see if your professional licensure requirements apply.

Foreign Language Achievement Testing Services
You could receive up to 12 college credits for proficiency in over 60 languages. Exams cost around $75. For more information see the FLATS Testing website. Be sure to check with your college or university before registering.

Department Challenge Exams
Some academic departments at Utah’s public colleges and universities have created their own exams, similar to AP or other national exams, which allow students to test out of certain college courses. These Department Challenge Exams may be available at your college or university, depending on the program. Please talk to your advisor to see if this might be an option for you.

Individualized Assessments of Prior Learning
Your college or university may offer individualized Prior Learning Assessments through portfolios or other means of documenting college-level learning.  Check with your academic advisor for more information.

See how your scores for standardized exams might apply to your intended major on the Utah Transfer Guide.

Find more information about Prior Learning Assessment options at your college or university:

USHE institutions are encouraged to expand the opportunities for students to demonstrate college-level learning and to earn appropriate credit for it. State law and Board policy require that Utah’s public colleges and universities ensure that students know their options, that faculty and key staff (like academic advisors) are trained on the types of Prior Learning Assessments available for students at their institution, and that they consider ways to expand the kinds of Prior Learning Assessments available to students.

See the USHE Prior Learning Assessment Quality Standards and Best Practices Handbook for requirements and recommendations.


State Code, Board Policies, and Standards for Credit for Prior Learning

 

Resources

 

Examples at other institutions