Purpose of Prior Learning Assessment at College of Professional Studies

College of Professional Studies has a long history of valuing the skills and knowledge every student brings to his or her chosen degree program. We recognize that our students come from varied backgrounds and may be able to demonstrate college-level learning even if they have not stepped foot in a classroom. Studies even show that students awarded prior learning credit have a higher retention rate than those who do not receive prior learning credit. We are here to help you maximize your credit.  To do so, however, it is important that you demonstrate this knowledge. This chapter will help walk you through this process.

The College of Professional Studies “Credit for What you Know” website is intended to provide all CPS bachelor’s degree candidates with the information they need to determine if they have received all the credit for prior learning that they are eligible for.  You may already know that you can transfer up to 90 credits from other validated and approved institutions, some certificates and trainings, and other areas where college-level learning has been assessed, such as in the NH Fire or Police Academy or military training.  What you may not know is that you may also receive credit through CPS approved testing like the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), select online learning courses such as through Saylor, Straighterline, or Sophia, or create a Portfolio of a required course in which you can demonstrate competency by taking CPS course CRIT603. It is HIGHLY recommended that you contact your advisor to discuss these options.  CPS is affiliated with several national accreditation organizations that has validated credit for thousands of courses and programs, so your advisor may be able to help find you additional Prior Learning Credits. Your own work experience or even hobbies might transfer in college-credit through the Portfolio option as well. Still, it is a complicated process that does not guarantee credit, but it is worthwhile taking the time to reflect on your prior learning to see if there is a possibility to gain more college-level credit.  Remember, PLA means credit for learning, not necessarily experience. Some skills do not necessarily translate to college-level learning even though they may be incredibly useful.

First, please visit College of Professional Studies’s Prior Learning Assessment page and watch the short video.

Prior Learning Assessment

As you reflect on your prior learning, it’s helpful to think about your potential credit that’s easiest to transfer first, such as transfer credits from courses from another institution. Next, validated trainings and testing are the next easiest to use for college-level credit. After that, you may want to look into alternate credit from institutions such as Straighterline or Sophia. Lastly, if you believe you have prior learning not included from these methods of assessment, you may want to look into taking CRIT603 which helps you build Portfolios for prior learning.  This is the most labor intensive approach and requires documentation of learning however it can be very rewarding. Please watch the CRIT603 Orientation video in your CRIT602 course for more information.  Please also reach out to your advisor for more advice on maximizing your Prior Learning!

Remember, there must always be a place in your degree planning for your prior learning!  For example, if you already have transferred an equivalent for a Visual Communication course at one university, you cannot then receive credit for taking a Visual Communication class through Sophia Learning. If you have transferred the maximum number of credits, you cannot transfer additional credits, or if your major has additional requirements, you must fulfill those ones. Some courses are not eligible for transfer or prior learning equivalency credit, such as your Capstone or IDIS601 Interdisciplinary Seminar.

Most CPS students come to CPS with prior learning credit.  Portfolio is less common, but does provide students an additional opportunity to demonstrate college level learning, if transfer credit or standardized testing is not an option.  A example of a student who would be a strong candidate for Portfolio is that of a Police Officer who has spent 20 years in a supervisor role and has been director of communications for her department, interacting with the public and state house. She is a Business major and aims to complete portfolios for COMM602 Media and Communications as well as LD600 Leadership, both of which are requirements for her degree.

Again, this is a complicated process because your transfer credits, wherever they come from, HAVE to fit within your degree requirements and they CANNOT duplicate each other.  It is worth watching the CRIT603 Overview video to better understand the Portfolio process.



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