Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Prior Learning is a non-college or experience-based learning that has been attained outside the sponsorship of accredited postsecondary education institutions. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Credit 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 in-service training sponsored by associations, business, government, and industry. PLA Credit is not awarded for EXPERIENCE, but for college-level LEARNING that 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 assessment based on board policy 9-42 of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education.

Prior Learning Assessment Credit may be awarded by a variety of methods that include:

  1. Standardized Tests
    • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
    • Excelsior College, UExcel / Formerly American College Testing Proficiency Program (ACT-PEP/RCE/EXCELSIOR)
    • DSST, formerly Defense Activity for Nontraditional Educational Support (DANTES)
    • Advanced Placement (AP)
    • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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: Students, staff and faculty can learn more about the Colorado Community College System PLA Credit System by visiting The Prior Learning Assessment form is available in the Office of the Registrar.