Credit for Prior Learning

Prior Learning is a non-college or experience-based learning that has been attained outside the sponsorship of accredited postsecondary education institutions. Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) includes learning acquired from work and life experiences; community and volunteer extension courses; individual study and reading; civic, community and volunteer work; and participation in informal courses and inservice training sponsored by associations, business, government, and industry. CPL is not awarded for EXPERIENCE , but for college-level LEARNING which entails knowledge, skills, and competencies that students have obtained as a result of their prior learning experience.

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) awards credit for prior learning based on board policy 9-42 of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education.

Credit for prior learning may be awarded by a variety of methods that include:

  1. Standardized Tests
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • Excelsior College / Formerly American College Testing Proficiency Program (ACT-PEP/RCE/EXCELSIOR
  • Defense Activity for Nontraditional Educational Support (DANTES)
  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  1. Institutional Challenge Examinations
  • Examination equivalent to the comprehensive final exam
  • Examination may be written, oral, demonstration or a combination of all three
  • Evaluated by an area dean or designated subject expert
  1. Published Guides
  • American Council on Education (ACE) for military training & experiences
  • ACE (non-collegiate) for industrial and corporate training programs
  • Other published guides developed by nationally recognized organizations
  1. Portfolio Assessment
  • Portfolio requirements and assessment determined by college faculty for work or life experiences that meet the following criteria:
    • The learning is demonstrable
    • Include both theoretical and applied components
    • Are at the college level, and
    • Are equivalent to a specific college course or courses in the student’s program of study

    Note: To facilitate the awarding of credit among the state's community colleges, the Community Colleges of Colorado have established the CCCS Standardized Test Matrix for the Award of Credit. This Matrix is accessible online at The Credit for Prior Learning form is available in Admissions & Records.