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Credit for Life Experience

Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) allows students in the School of Adult Learning to earn credit hours at North Park by demonstrating learning gained outside a traditional academic environment—informal life experience, professional training, certification, licensure, or any other source.

  • PLA projects should closely match courses or topics taught at North Park
  • PLA fulfills mostly elective credit and some general-education requirements
  • PLA credit cannot duplicate credits transferred into or completed at North Park
  • PLA credit is available only to currently enrolled School of Adult Learning students

PLA credit is earned when you are able to demonstrate the learning that occurred as a result of an experience, not just because of the experience. Depending on what type of experience you use as the basis for your request, we will work with you to select the best format for your written submission.

The School of Adult Learning has a dedicated PLA Coordinator who will help you throughout the process. You will be able to meet with her after you are accepted as a student and begin your coursework. Your admission counselor can answer your PLA questions while you are in the process of applying to North Park.

Types of PLA projects

Credit by Examination

CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) is an organization that provides standardized tests for certain subject areas. Not all CLEP exams have been approved to meet North Park’s requirements; contact your advisor for more information. Other forms of examination, particularly in languages other than English, are also available.

License or Certificate

A second option for earning PLA credit is through license or certificate. This option is appropriate for someone who has already completed specialized training, or attended seminars or workshops.

Credit by Essay

The final PLA option is to demonstrate learning through an experiential-learning essay. This essay must demonstrate learning by building from concrete experiences to more formal theories or general concepts.

Advanced Placement and Military Credit

Additional ways to earn credit are available for students who have taken Advanced Placement classes in high school or who have served in the military. Official transcripts for that work should be sent to North Park so that it can be added to your transcript.

PLA Procedures at North Park

  1. Students interested in PLA meet with the PLA Coordinator to discuss possible topics.
  2. The student determines which type of PLA to pursue and the number of credit hours for which to petition.
  3. The PLA Coordinator identifies and contacts a faculty evaluator in the appropriate field.
  4. The student works independently to complete the chosen PLA project.
  5. The final draft of the project is submitted to the PLA Coordinator.
  6. The faculty evaluator reviews the project and decides the credit award. (In some cases, the faculty evaluator may suggest revisions or additions to the project before approving the credit award.)
  7. The student is billed for the PLA fees for the credits and the North Park Records Office adds PLA credit to the student’s transcript.
“[PLA] showed me that my previous work and experience were valued, and that made me feel even more valued as a person and a student.”
Barbara Sacco, Class of 2011