PLA Frequently Asked Questions
What is Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a flexible, affordable way for adult students to earn college credit toward a degree for college-level knowledge they have acquired outside the traditional classroom setting, through learning experiences such as:
- Full- or part-time jobs
- In-house training sessions
- Professional licenses and certificates
- CareerPLUS badges
- Military and government job training
- Volunteer work and/or hobbies
The proper documentation of college-level learning derived from any of these activities could save time, effort and money.
What are the different ways I can earn college credit through PLA?
There are several different ways to earn credit through PLA:
- Examination (CLEP or DSST exams)
- Credit Recommendation from the American Council on Education (ACE)
- Request a Joint Services Transcript (Military/Veterans Only)
- CareerPLUS badge(s)
- Portfolio Assessment
How much money can I save by earning credit through PLA?
You can save over $1,000 per 3-credit course by earning credit through PLA. That’s because when you earn PLA credit, you don’t pay regular tuition for the college course for which you are earning credit. The PLA fee is minimal and so not only do you save money, but you also save time because any course credit that you earn through PLA is credit that you don’t have to earn by enrolling in an actual course and doing homework on the material you already know. There are also no additional fees related to textbooks, technology, etc. when earning credit through PLA.
CareerPLUS badges can easily be converted to course credit through the PLA process at no additional charge other than the initial cost of the badge.
How quickly can I earn my degree if I earn credit through PLA?
This will vary depending on how much prior learning experience you have and/or how quickly you complete the PLA paperwork.
Who is eligible to earn credit through PLA?
Any non-traditional student at Clarke may apply for credit through PLA. The maximum combined credits granted by Clarke University for PLA is 30 credit hours. These credits may not be used toward the last 30 semester credit hours at Clarke University. Students are not eligible to earn PLA credit for a lower course in a sequence of courses after they have begun or completed an advanced course in the sequence.
How many credits can I earn through PLA?
The maximum combined credits granted by Clarke University for PLA is 30 credit hours. These credits may not be used toward the last 30 semester credit hours at Clarke University.
Am I a good candidate for PLA?
This checklist may assist you in determining if you are a candidate for earning course credit through PLA.
Do I get a grade for PLA?
PLA credit is either granted or denied. If granted, the credit will be posted to your transcript but will not be assigned a letter grade.
What is the PLA fee?
The PLA fee is listed here. When you earn PLA credit, you don’t pay regular tuition for the college course that you are earning credit for. The PLA fee is minimal and so not only do you save money on tuition and textbooks, but you also save time because any course credit that you earn through PLA is credit that you don’t have to earn by enrolling in an actual course and doing homework on material you already know.
Can I use financial aid to pay the PLA fee?
No, Title IV financial aid funding cannot be used directly on PLA fees. If your employer provides tuition assistance, you need to verify whether it will cover PLA fees. In addition, credit earned through prior learning assessment does not count as hours attempted for Federal Financial Aid.
CLEP/DSST Exam FAQs
What is Clarke’s school code for the CLEP exam?
Clarke’s School Code for CLEP is: 6099
What is Clarke’s school code for the DSST exam?
Clarke’s School Code for DSST is: 8010
Badge to Credit FAQs
How much money will I save by earning college credit through the CareerPLUS badge program and counting CareerPLUS badges toward my degree?
Badges can easily be converted to course credit at no additional charge other than the initial cost of the badge, resulting in savings of nearly $800 per 3-credit course. There are also no additional fees related to textbooks, technology, etc. when converting CareerPLUS badges to credit.
How is earning college credit through the CareerPLUS badge program different than taking a traditional course for college credit?
Earning credit through the CareerPLUS badge program is more affordable and more flexible than taking a traditional course for college credit. To earn a badge, you must take three online micro courses. Each micro course is self-paced over four weeks, so you can work on the content anytime within the month the course is offered whenever it fits your schedule. In addition, CareerPLUS badges feature relevant, affordable, “bite-sized” professional development focused on 21st-century essential workforce, employer-valued skills.
Which courses do the CareerPLUS badges align with for the Bachelor of Applied Studies (BAS) Degree?
Learn more here.
Which Compass Outcomes do CareerPLUS badges meet?
Which Micro Courses are in a Badge?
Click here and then select each respective badge to view which micro courses make up a specific badge.
What is the process for converting my CareerPLUS Badge to academic credit at Clarke?
Do I have to pay an extra fee to convert my CareerPLUS badges to credit?
No. Badges can easily be converted to course credit through the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process at no additional charge other than the initial cost of the badge.
If I would like to count the Diversity and Inclusion Badge toward the Global Awareness and Social Responsibility (GASR) Compass Requirement, what additional documentation must be submitted before this will be approved?
Documentation of five hours of diversity or social responsibility training/experiences.
PLA Portfolio FAQs
How can I prepare for submitting a PLA portfolio?
While you will have the opportunity to learn more about and prepare for PLA during the CMPS 103: Foundations of Success course and/or with your faculty assessor, there are some things you can do to get a head start on the process, such as gathering and listing all prior trainings and work. We recommend that you create a file of any certificates, e-mails, or confirmations of workplace training. You might also save copies of unofficial transcripts from all institutions you have attended in an easily-retrievable location. Lastly, you might start a list of work experience and trainings alongside the dates and duration. It will be important for you to exhaust all other PLA options prior to beginning the portfolio process. Students are not allowed to complete portfolios for PLA that can be evidenced through the exam or badge process.
Will someone from Clarke help me through the PLA process?
Clarke University CareerPLUS degree-seeking students must complete the 3-credit CMPS 103: Foundations of Success course, which will introduce them to the PLA process. Students pursuing PLA credit through a portfolio assessment will also be assigned to a faculty assessor to determine if/how their learning experiences equate to Clarke’s course outcomes. It will be important for you to exhaust all other PLA options prior to beginning the portfolio process. Students are not allowed to complete portfolios for PLA that can be evidenced through the exam or badge process.
What types of documentation are appropriate for the Prior Learning Assessment process?
Documentation may include materials like letters from supervisors detailing your learning, newspaper articles about your accomplishments, computer programs you have written, or other things you have done or created that otherwise demonstrate the learning you have acquired.
How long does the PLA portfolio process take? What are the deadlines associated with PLA?
The amount of time spent on the PLA process can vary. The 3-credit CMPS 103: Foundations of Success course, which gets CareerPLUS degree-seeking students started on the process of earning credit through PLA, is a 7-week or 8-week course. Following the course, you will need to spend additional time finishing up the PLA process. You will work with your faculty assessor to set a deadline for completion of your PLA paperwork.