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Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment

Receive college credit based on your work experience!

At Georgia Southwestern State University, we value the diverse experiences of our students. Our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process honors your past achievements by allowing you to showcase your acquired knowledge and skills. By providing appropriate documentation and aligning your experiences with specific course objectives, you have the opportunity to potentially earn academic credit. This not only acknowledges your prior learning but also streamlines your academic journey by minimizing redundancy in coursework. 


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Prior Learning Assessment Program

Charles M. Huffman, Ph.D.
Director, Prior Learning Assessment


Springboard Your Program

By earning credit towards the desired program, you can get a jump start towards completion

Save Money

Credits earned will save students on tuition and fees for otherwise required courses

Advanced Potential

By earning credits and credentials, students can open doors to new career opportunities

Receiving Credit for Prior Learning

Prior learning credit can be earned through any combination of credit by departmental examination, correspondence courses, extension work, advanced placement (AP), or PLA by portfolio credit in order to be used toward an applicable program.

  • Students may earn up to 30 credit hours of Prior Learning experience from experience, prior certifications, and examinations
  • PLA does require fees such as testing fees or portfolio assessment. However, PLA should take less time and money to complete than taking regular classes.

Ways to Receive Credit

Credit by Examination

Credit by Examination (CBE) is offered for students who demonstrate knowledge or skills through national exams or other academic experiences. We follow the guidelines set by the American Council on Education (ACE) to evaluate these submissions and ensure fair credit assessment. Credits earned through examination are only awarded for courses approved by the university.

Credit by Military Service

At Georgia Southwestern State University, we adhere to SACSCOC Principle 9.4, which emphasizes that at least 25 percent of undergraduate degree credit hours must be earned through our institution's instruction. However, there's no limit to the number of credit hours that can be granted for military service/experience. We accept various transcripts, including Joint Service Transcript (JST), DD-214, and those from ACE-recommended sources like AARTS, CCAF, and CGI. Our evaluation process, guided by ACE principles, ensures fair recognition of military training and experience for credit. Prospective and accepted students with military backgrounds are encouraged to reach out to our Military & Veteran Services for further assistance and information.

Credit for Prior Certifications, Licensure, or Board Exam

Students may be required to demonstrate specific competencies through a proficiency exam or portfolio assessment. Additionally, completing the request for credit by certification form is necessary, providing detailed information about your credential. Depending on the type of credential, you might also need to submit a portfolio to ensure it aligns with college-level learning outcomes.

In some cases, successful completion of the next-level course may be necessary to receive credit for prior credentials. 

Credit by Portfolio

Students may request portfolio credit consideration for any course listed in the Georgia Southwestern Catalog, although eligibility is not guaranteed. Certain courses may be more suitable for traditional instruction methods, making portfolio-based credit less optimal. Additionally, courses available for credit through CLEP, proficiency exams, and other methods are ineligible for portfolio credit.

To pursue the portfolio option, students must:

  • Enroll in the online portfolio development course, indicating desired courses for portfolio submission.
  • Pay the course fee. Contact the Office of Student Accounts for more information.
  • Complete the Academic Honesty Statement.
  • Submit the final portfolio(s) to the Office of Adult and Online Learning within six months of completing the portfolio development course. A separate portfolio is required for each desired course.

Contact the Prior Learning Assessment Director to be placed in the appropriate course and for more details. 

Adult Learning Consortium

Georgia Southwestern is one of 13 University System of Georgia campuses forming the Adult Learning Consortium. This Consortium is designed to assist in improving adult learner-focused services, programs and outreach to Georgia adults who are interested in completing college.

Whether you have some college credit, have no college credit or simply have valuable work experience, Georgia Southwestern is committed to assisting you reach your educational goals to advance your career. 

I had the desire to finish what I started years ago. I was given several credits for my experience and training as a retired law enforcement officer through the Prior Learning Assessment. I will graduate as the first male in my family to have a college degree. I feel this college experience has expanded my knowledge and experiences. I currently serve in many positions in my community.

Bruce Wilson '24 Online Criminal Justice
Blakely, Georgia