Credit for Prior Learning

Earning Credit for Life Experience

Learning can occur through many avenues. If you have work or volunteer experience, served in the military, or participated in non-credit training, you might be eligible to use those learning experiences to earn college credits. Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) can help you identify and present learning from your experiences in a way that can help you earn college credits and complete your degree more quickly.

Your completed and approved CPL results in credits for approved courses on your transcript.

Learn more about earning credit for prior experiences

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Dual enrollment

Dual enrollment credit from accredited higher education institutions and Advanced College Project Courses (ACP) can also be applied towards course credit for degree requirements. Consult with your admissions counselor to determine how transfer credits work toward your degree program.

About dual enrollment credit

Test out

Some programs allow the option to test out of specific courses by taking a proficiency exam. While the test out process allows you to avoid taking specific courses, you are typically not awarded course credit.

About testing out

Portfolios or departmental assessment of prior learning

Consult with the advisor in your school to find out if the best types of Prior Learning Assessment are available for you.

Examples of documents that would go into a portfolio

Depending on the type of Prior Learning Assessment your department requires, the following examples of documentation may be useful to gather for portfolio assessment or assessment of certificates and licensures:

  • Completion of recognized academic programs
  • Certificates and other credentials with their fulfillment criteria
  • Résumé
  • Documentation of project management skills
  • Documentation of skills consistent with those expected in the course being reviewed (e.g., an animated short film, a mobile application, an e-commerce website)
  • Job descriptions
  • Passing a comprehensive examination on the contents of the course
  • Service to a nongovernmental organization or the government (e.g., a volunteer organization, the military, diplomatic corps)
  • Report on funded and unfunded research projects
  • Syllabi of courses covering similar content
  • Testimonials of course-related knowledge and skills acquisition
  • Documentation of professional activities clarifying acquired knowledge and skills concerning the course’s contents, such as developing a website for a community service organization, contributing to IT fair projects, mentorship, performance reviews, presenting or publishing scholarship, and producing a video.

Examples of prior learning review within an area

Target Group: Basic BSN and RN-BSN Students

Policy Type: Revision


To establish a mechanism for assessing, validating and evaluating prior learning in order to award course credit or exemption for undergraduate nursing courses. The portfolio provides evidence that students have acquired the content and skills through prior learning and/or practice experiences.


  1. Students may validate prior learning (academic work or professional experience) by preparing a portfolio to demonstrate acquisition of content and skills commensurate with outcomes, competencies or objectives of a specific course.
  2. The portfolio option may be used for a course(s) as long as it does not interfere with other university or school course/credit hour policies related to progression or graduation.
  3. Portfolio courses are graded as satisfactory (S) or Failure (F). Students who are successful in the portfolio process will be awarded “special credit” for the course in question through the Indiana University Special Credit process.
  4. To receive portfolio credit, students must be in good academic standing and demonstrate satisfactory progression toward degree requirements.
  5. Undergraduate students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours on the campus awarding the degree. Courses/credits which are reviewed for portfolio credit do not count toward undergraduate residency requirements.
  6. Faculty reserve the right to determine if the student is eligible for the Portfolio alternative. This option will not be entertained when, in the faculty’s expert judgment, student learning might be compromised.
  7. The success of the portfolio depends on the students’ ability to present sufficient related materials that meet course objectives/competencies and critical learning experiences.


  1. The student is responsible for discussing the portfolio option with the nursing advisor prior to contacting the faculty teaching the course for which they are seeking portfolio review. The advisor will assist the student to identify the appropriate instructor.
  2. Complete the portfolio review form that can be obtained from the Academic Advisor.
  3. Students pursuing the portfolio option must register for the one credit hour NURS-Z480 BSN Portfolio Review for Course Substitution the semester before the course is required to be taken.
  4. During Z 480 the faculty and student will determine the feasibility of pursuing the portfolio option. Students will be informed of:
    1. the portfolio process, the required outcomes, portfolio content.
    2. the faculty role in assisting the student through the portfolio review process.
    3. the time frame for completing the portfolio, conducting the review, and making the decision to accept or deny the portfolio.
  5. Students are required to submit a completed portfolio to the assigned faculty in a three-ring binder and clearly labeled. If more than one course is involved; the documentation for each course should be bound separately.
  6. Specific documentation materials are required for portfolio validation. Additional supporting data may be provided as appropriate to the course. Required documentation includes:
    1. A cover page indicating the course for which the portfolio is prepared.
    2. Content from prior course(s), work experience and professional experience used for validation. If previous academic work is used, the following should be included: course objectives/outcomes, course content outline, assignments (including required readings), number of didactic and clinical hours and performance evaluations if course grade was pass/fail. Dates of experiences must be included.
    3. If previous work and/or professional experience is used as part, indicate how information on the vitae relates to validation of specific course objectives. Date(s) of experiences must be included. Possible experiences to consider include:
      1. Level of participation in committees (unit/department, professional, and community); level of participation in professional organizations and other activity which reflects the course outcomes.
      2. Professional development activities; e.g., workshops attended for CE credit, staff development offerings, professional organization conferences, independent study.
      3. Professional presentations, e.g., keynote, panelist, poster, etc. Indicate if data based and selection was referred.
      4. Level of participation in projects including role, specific responsibilities and funding source if applicable.
      5. Publications including information regarding data based and refereed articles.
      6. Certifications and other honors.
    4. Copies of documents that relate to philosophy, goals, objectives, job descriptions, policies, etc., may be submitted as evidence. Date(s) of experiences must be included.
    5. Letters from colleagues, administrators, supervisors and faculty documenting experiences. Date(s) of experiences must be included.
    6. A written narrative describing how all materials submitted support the achievement of the course objectives.

      NOTE: The list above does not represent an exhaustive list of acceptable documents. Students may submit other supporting evidence.
  7. The portfolio will be reviewed by content experts associated with the designated course. The individual(s) reviewing portfolio materials may request a personal interview or more materials to gather additional information.
  8. Portfolio decisions will be formally documented in the student’s record. Students who are successful in the portfolio process will be awarded “special credit” for the course in question through the Indiana University Special Credit process.
Portfolio Review:
  1. The portfolio will be reviewed by faculty with teaching expertise in the practice area(s) to be validated. The faculty will make a recommendation for approval to the Admission, Progression, Graduation (APG) committee. The process should be completed in a timely fashion.
  2. The APG committee may:
    1. Award special credit for the course petitioned based on the evidence provided.
    2. Request that the course be approved with minor additional requirements.
    3. Deny special credit because the evidence presented was not strong enough to validate course objectives/outcomes. The student will then be informed that he/she must register for and successfully complete the designated course.
    4. Require the student to register for the course or for independent credit and complete, with the assistance of the faculty, outcomes/objectives not met in the portfolio.
  3. The portfolio review decision is forwarded to the Dean of the School of Nursing.
  4. The Academic advisor will facilitate the awarding of special credit on the student’s transcript.

Effective Date: Spring 1987

Approved by: Admission, Progression, Graduation Committee: February 8, 2010
Approved by: Council of Nursing Faculty: March 15, 2010

The Journalism, Media & Strategic Communication Program may award prior learning credit.

The Journalism, Media & Strategic Communication Program will award credit for prior learning/work experience based on the following criteria:

  • Credit may be awarded for prior learning/experience for courses required for a Journalism, Media & Strategic Communication degree, based on a student’s ability to meet all learning objectives associated with the course.

Learning objectives would typically be demonstrated through a portfolio with specific artifacts from professional work (though it could be another assessment, such as a cumulative test or industry recognized assessment, as defined by the Journalism, Media & Strategic Communication faculty). Portfolios or other assessment methods will be evaluated by a full-time Journalism, Media & Strategic Communication faculty member.

Credits requested for prior learning assessment in a discipline specific or specialty area may come from three types:

Type 1
Courses taken at regionally accredited institutions related to the student’s specialty area but not counted for general education.

Type 2
Courses taken outside of regionally accredited institutions either through the student’s employer (current or former) or discipline-specific qualified instruction such as military training, continuing education, licensure, or certification related to the student’s specialty area. Examples of certifications include first aid, tool, or machine safety and must be validated through a life learning essay submitted to the dean and related discipline head by the student along with documentation of successful completion.

Type 3
Workplace learning, related to the student’s specialty area, as validated through a life learning essay submitted by the student and documentation from the employer. Experience will be assessed and approved by qualified faculty from the specific discipline area, and credit will be distributed appropriately. Examples: a student may be given for on-the-job learning through a professional experience in the performing arts, fine arts, writing, or any applied field.

Description of occupations and details of valuable job learning experiences per discipline may be found through the Department of Labor website.

Guidelines for accepting prior learning assessment are based on these standards taken from the Council of Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL):

  1. Credit should be awarded only for learning and not for experience.
  2. College credit should be awarded only for college-level learning.
  3. Competence levels and credit awards must be made by subject matter/academic experts.
  4. Credit should be appropriate to the academic context in which it is accepted.
  5. Credit awards and transcript entries should be monitored to avoid duplicate credit.
  6. Policies and procedures (including appeals) should be fully disclosed and prominently available on all
  7. Personnel involved in assessment should receive adequate training.
  8. Assessment programs should be regularly monitored, reviewed, evaluated, and revised.

*The School of Arts & Letters is currently developing an e-portfolio that incoming students may complete in order to streamline and evaluate these prior learning experiences in total.

Military experience

Veterans may earn college credit for educational experiences in the armed services. A Joint Services Transcript (JST) should be submitted with the application materials for consideration. Visit the Joint Services Transcript website to request your JST.

See IU Policy ACA-78 to learn more about transfer credit related to military service, or visit the Veterans Services website.

Dual enrollment credit earned during high school

Admissions reviews dual enrollment credit for transfer credit, and the accepted courses are posted to a student’s IU Southeast transcript. This includes all dually enrolled courses taken at accredited higher education institutions regardless of format or location. Students should work with their IU Southeast advisor to determine how transfer credits work toward their degree requirements.

Advanced College Project Courses (ACP)

ACP courses represent dual credit courses taught at Indiana University. These credits appear directly on your transcript and are applied to your college education. Each course covers the same content, has the same expectations, and gives the same credit as the course taught at the IU campus. Visit the Advanced College Project Courses website for more information.

Yes. High school students who dually enroll for courses at accredited institutions of higher education may receive credit for work taken at these institutions for courses that have been recognized for transfer to IU Southeast.

Visit our Credit Transfer Service website and use the drop-down boxes to enter information about the college/university you are transferring from. See step-by-step instructions on the Transfer Credit Evaluation webpage.

As a regionally accredited institutions, IU Southeast may transfer up to 64 credit hours from a community college or 90 credit hours from a four-year university. A combination of two-year and four-year credit may be used, but cannot exceed the 64/90 rule.

It is preferred that a transfer course be taken for a letter grade. You must earn a grade of “C” or higher for a course to be posted to your IUS transcript. Most universities/ colleges provide an explanation of a “pass” grade for their institutions. If the institution indicates that the pass grade is a “C” or higher for the transferable course, credit may be awarded.

Yes. For any student to receive credit for prior coursework, you must submit all your college transcripts with dual enrollment courses.

No. In presenting dual enrollment credits for transfer to Indiana University Southeast, all of these credits become a permanent part of your IU Southeast record.

Contact your previous school, the college board, or the Diploma Programme and have official transcripts sent to:

Office of Admissions
4201 Grant Line Road
New Albany, Indiana 47150

Or email it to

Test out

Some programs allow the option to test out of specific courses by taking a proficiency exam. These exams are administered by individual departments or the program coordinator. While the test out process allows you to avoid taking one or more courses, this typically does not award course credit.