Prior Learning Assessment


You can earn credit for prior college-level learning and apply it toward your associate or bachelor's degree. Your mentor will help you determine what relevant college-level learning you already have.

Transfer credit from other institutions is one source of prior college-level learning. Other sources include:

  • Military training 
  • Standardized exams, such as CLEP, DANTES, and DSST
  • Other college-level learning, such as:
    • Licenses
    • Noncredit courses
    • Law Enforcement and other types of training
    • Seminars
    • In-service trainings
    • Volunteer work

Credit for College-Level Learning

Empire State University awards credit to degree-seeking students for verifiable college-level learning (knowledge or skills) acquired through life or work experience. 

This learning can come from many sources, including:

  • Courses at other colleges and universities
  • Work experience
  • Volunteer work
  • Training programs or in-service courses
  • Military service
  • Community activities
  • Independent reading and study

To develop your prior-learning credit requests, you will work with your mentor to determine:

  • If the learning is college-level
  • If the learning is appropriate for the degree plan you're developing
  • The best way to demonstrate your learning

Empire State University uses the following standards to determine whether learning is college-level:

  • The learning should be theoretical and practical. If you seek credit for supervising employees at work, you should prove understanding employee motivation, management styles, and job evaluation techniques, as well as day-to-day-operations.
  • You should be able to identify the principles involved.
  • The learning should be identified as college-level when evaluated by an expert in the field. This means you should be able to convince an expert evaluator through description or demonstration that your knowledge or competence is at the college level.

Not all learning will qualify as college-level. Examples include maintaining the family budget, putting up bookshelves, buying a house, or surviving a serious illness.

Credit derived directly from transcript learning, examinations, and in some cases, from licenses and certifications is easily translatable into Empire State University credits.

Using Prior Learning Toward Your Degree

Although you may have college-level learning from multiple sources, you will only use the credits that best meet your degree requirements. Empire State University accepts credit recommendations for degree-seeking students and awards advanced standing credit when:

  • Learning components make sense in the student's degree program
  • Learning components do not duplicate other credits in the degree program
  • The student completed the learning at the same location and during the exact time period covered by the evaluation and credit recommendation
  • SUNY Empire directly receives official documentation from the issuing agency or organization

Evaluation of Prior College-Level Learning

Advanced standing credit is available for prior college-level learning verified by one of the following:

Transcript Evaluation

Credits earned at other regionally accredited colleges and universities that are validated by an official transcript are available for inclusion in students' degree programs.

Standardized Examinations

Credit may be earned through the demonstration of college-level learning on proficiency examinations offered by a number of testing services.

Pre-Evaluated Training, Credentials, Certificates and Licenses

Credit is awarded for the completion of learning that has been evaluated by Empire State University, the American Council on Education (ACE) or the National College Credit Recommendation Services (National CCRS), formerly known as the National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction (National PONSI). These organizations have evaluated college-level training programs, credentials and licenses from government agencies, the military and the private sector.

Evaluations of Military Training and Occupations

Many areas of military training and occupations have been evaluated for college-level credit through the American Council on Education (ACE). Empire State University accepts credit recommendation for any military training or occupation that has been evaluated by ACE.

Individualized Prior Learning Assessment

Credit is awarded for verifiable college level learning acquired through work, life experience or independent reading and study through the university's individualized prior learning assessment (iPLA) process.  IPLA is the process by which students explain and document their college-level learning, which is then assessed by an expert evaluator. For each topic for which you are requesting credit, you will write a description of what you know and how you acquired this learning. The university arranges for an expert on the topic who will review and evaluate your learning.