In order to assist students to progress through the curriculum and meet program requirements expeditiously and with the least amount of redundancy, Cleveland State Community College encourages students to demonstrate acquired learning and competencies through any of the following methods:  institutional course challenge examinations, external examinations and experiential learning. In each case, academic credit is awarded upon demonstration of the competencies specified in the official course syllabus. A maximum of 50 percent of the total hours required for a specific program of study may be earned through any combination of PLA. The recognized forms of PLA considered are as follows:

  1. Credit by external exam

    Credit may be awarded upon successful completion of specific exams, or portions of exams, that have been reviewed and approved to be in concordance with specific course competencies.

    Note: External exams not listed and any exams or certifications, which have not been reviewed for concordance with specific course credit, may be submitted for portfolio reviews for consideration of credit.

    1. American College Testing Program (ACT)

    2. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)

    3. College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

    4. Advanced Placement Program (AP)

    5. Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) (DSST)

    6. National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI)

    7. CPS/CAP

  2. Military Experience/Training

    College credit for military training may be awarded through the American Council on Education (ACE) College Credit Recommendation Service or through direct evaluation of the student’s service school transcripts.

  3. Dual Credit

    Dual credit may be awarded from a postsecondary course, taught in high school by certified secondary instructors, which prepares students to sit for a postsecondary challenge exam. The postsecondary exam is administered under the supervision of postsecondary faculty.

  4. Portfolio Review Credit

    Credit by a Portfolio Review may be requested when the student submits documents verifying existing knowledge and competencies that cannot be readily assessed for credit through other forms of PLA.

  5. Institution Course Challenge Exam

    Course Challenge Exams may be developed by academic programs, where no other form of PLA exam exists, that assess competencies outlined in the particular course syllabus.

    A Note of Caution: It is important for students to recognize that they cannot earn PLA credit for anything that could be considered duplicative on their transcripts. Advising is essential to ensuring students do not waste time pursuing PLA credits that will not count toward their degree requirements. Prior Learning Assessment is best discussed within the context of the student’s program of study.

    Students considered as good candidates for PLA:

    • Should have strong writing skills

    • May have earned certificates or have taken non-credit courses

    • May have military service experience

    • Might have significant work experience

    • Have earned some college credit already

    • Have enhanced pre-admission test scores


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  • Tennessee Transfer Pathway