Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Academic Credit for Prior Learning?

Academic Credit for Prior Learning, or ACPL, enables people to earn credit and recognition for the skills and knowledge they have already acquired. Credit is granted for college-level learning that can be demonstrated and documented.

How Will I Know If I’m Eligible For Academic Credit for My Prior Learning?

Academic credit for prior learning may be for you if you have developed skills, knowledge and abilities outside the classroom that can be matched with the learning outcomes from your program courses. Some of the ways you may have mastered college level learning are through:

  • Workplace experience
  • Military service and training
  • Corporate training
  • Business ownership
  • Volunteer work 
  • Civic leadership

Will My Military Training and Service Qualify for Academic Credit?

When you meet with your program advisor, bring all your training documentation for evaluation (Joint Services Transcript/JST, transcripts from Community College of the Air Force/CCAF, College Level Examination Program/CLEP and Dantes Subject Standardized Test/DSST, Certificates). Award of academic credit occurs when your prior learning outcomes are assessed and determined to be the equivalent of the learning outcomes of a specific course required by your declared career pathway.

Pierce College may grant up to 15 quarter-hour credits for military experience. Credits will be granted after you have earned an equal number of credits while enrolled and attending Pierce College.

Can I Test Out of a Course and Receive Credit for What I Already Know?

You may receive Pierce College credit for up to two courses per quarter by successfully completing an examination on the course subject matter. The examination may be written, oral or a demonstration assessment that is developed by faculty.

Credit by examination does not satisfy (or count toward) the minimum number of credits that must be earned at Pierce College in order to earn a degree from the college. A per-credit fee is charged. For more information, contact the department director or program coordinator for the program from which you are seeking credit by examination.

I Have Acquired Skills and Knowledge Outside of a Traditional Classroom Environment. Can I Receive Credit for What I Already Know and Can Do?

For the 2018–2019 academic year, we are introducing an online questionnaire called a PLA Accelerator. This free online tool will be available to current and prospective Pierce College students to help you outline your education, work and life experiences and areas of expertise. You will then receive a summary ACPL report to help determine if you are a good Academic Credit for Prior Learning candidate. This report can be shared with your academic advisor as a foundation for exploring ACPL opportunities.

Portfolio assessment is a process that awards credit on the basis of college-level learning mastered for specific courses. Prior experiential learning credit is awarded at the discretion of each academic department.

Current on-the-job work experience, if related to academic or professional/technical studies, may enable you to obtain credit for experience in a chosen field. Experiential learning is college-level learning that has been acquired through work experiences and self-study. Credit will be awarded for the college-level learning gained from these experiences, not from experiences only. College credits are usually useful to you only if the credits are a required part of the major or certificate program in which you are actively engaged.

This credit is not accepted automatically by transfer schools. If you are planning to transfer, research this with the transfer school(s) concerned. You may initiate assessment of work experience credit through professional certificates, licenses, and portfolios as determined by academic departments. Take time to review the various options available to recognize your learning accomplishments and work with the academic department from which you are seeking credit. Preparation of the portfolio is your sole responsibility if you who choose to initiate the process. Not all departments use portfolio assessment. Check with the specific department from which you are seeking credit for details on policies, guidelines and fees.

I Served as A VISTA/Peace Corps/AmeriCorps Volunteer. Does My Experience Count Toward College Credit?

Pierce College will grant 15 credit hours of elective credits for one year or at least nine months active service in VISTA, Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. To receive such credit, submit a resume of your VISTA, Peace Corps or AmeriCorps experience to the Evaluations office for review. The credit granted may apply to any Pierce College degree and will be granted after you have earned 15 or more college-level credits with a college-level grade point average of 2.0 or higher while enrolled and attending Pierce College. However, general credit of any nature cannot be used to fulfill the specific course requirements of any program.

I Am a Licensed Professional. Do My Professional Certifications and License Count Toward College Credit?

College credits may be awarded for your professional certifications and licensure if the organization providing the training program is recognized by the American Council on Education (ACE), international, federal, state or local agencies, and the appropriate Pierce College academic department determines that the certification/license is college-equivalent learning.

What Is Experiential Learning Credit?

To receive academic credit for prior learning, an online portfolio development course may be required to help you organize, reflect upon and write about your learning experiences for which you are seeking college credit. Note that not all programs or courses are eligible for ACPL. Check with your program coordinator to determine if this option is available to you. A faculty member will be assigned to you as a faculty evaluator. The faculty evaluator will conduct the ACPL assessment and determine the amount of college credit that can be awarded. The assessment is not complete until the faculty evaluator has signed off.

Do My CLEP and DSST Exams Count for College Credit?

We give credit for College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST). If you have taken a DSST previously, please bring your username and password to your advising session. For more information see the JBLM testing web page.

Will My Prior Learning Credits Transfer?

Many colleges and universities accept credits earned through prior learning assessment. To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you check with the receiving institution before beginning the academic credit for prior learning process.