Get Credit for What You Already Know
Prior Learning credits represent a substantial savings in time and money, as the credits you earn are at a rate well below current tuition costs for coursework, and you pay only for the number of credits you actually use toward your degree. Prior Learning credits can also reduce the time involved in earning your degree; the more Prior Learning credits you earn, the fewer courses you need to take to complete your degree.
What is Prior Learning Credit (PLC)?
Prior Learning Credit can be awarded for the learning students have already acquired from an unfinished degree program, work, training, and life experiences.
As an adult, much of your personal and professional development has probably occurred outside the traditional academic classroom. Through such experiences, you may have acquired skills and knowledge that could satisfy some of your Alt-U degree requirements.
Alt-U’s Prior Learning model is based on “competencies” and course “equivalents,” the credit awarded will be applied to your degree program. The competency model allows you to have your college-level learning recognized, regardless of whether Alt-U offers specific courses pertaining to what you have learned.
For any of your learning from work, training, and life experiences to be considered for credit, you will need to assemble a portfolio that explains and documents the experiences and what you learned from them (i.e., what “competencies'' you have acquired). A key component of the portfolio is your “self-assessment” of learning, which explains the learning that occurred through the experiences. Your portfolio will then be evaluated to determine whether credit can be awarded for undergraduate or graduate-level competencies.
For an unfinished degree program you simply provide a transcript of records from the previous learning institution you attended for credit evaluation.
What kinds of learning can I get credit for?
Prior Learning credits may be used for required courses in your major or minor, or as elective credits, as determined by your academic advisor. You may also obtain credit for courses you completed at regionally-accredited colleges or universities but that did not transfer to Alt-U.
Your academic advisor will assist you in determining how Prior Learning credits may be applied toward your degree.
How many credits can I earn for Prior Learning?
The maximum number of credits students can apply to are as follows:
Bachelor’s 60 to 70 Credit Units
Graduate Certificate 9 to 12 Credit Units
Master’s 18 to 20 Credit Units
Doctorate 36 to 40 Credit Units
or 50% of the total credit hours if the program applied
The number of credits actually awarded depends on a number of factors:
-the length and duration of the experiences submitted for consideration
-the quality of the student’s self-assessment of learning
-whether the learning is college-level (undergraduate or graduate)
-whether sufficient and appropriate documentation has been provided in support of the student’s claims
-whether the portfolio includes all the required components in the correct order and meets all other requirements
When should I apply for Prior Learning credit?
We encourage you to submit a portfolio early in your academic program, before taking courses that may duplicate your Prior Learning experiences.
Students who are awarded Prior Learning credit early in their academic careers have a much more accurate timeline for planning and meeting degree requirements, which also alleviates some of the stress that many students feel as graduation nears.
Portfolios are evaluated continuously throughout the year, but expect a turnaround time of 8 to 10 weeks for processing your portfolio, from the time it is received at Alt-U’s Prior Learning Office until you receive your credit-award notification letter.
While portfolios can be submitted at any time, consider the following dates as guidelines for receiving Prior Learning credits in time for graduation:
-May 1 for August graduation
-September 1 for December graduation
-February 1 for May graduation
How will Prior Learning credits be applied toward my degree, and how much will they cost?
After you receive your Prior Learning award-notification letter, you need to meet with your academic advisor. Your advisor will determine whether and how the awarded credits may be used in your degree program, based on the following policies:
You may complete and submit a portfolio at any time (after becoming an Alt-U student and meeting with your advisor). However, you must have completed 5 semester hours of Alt-U course work before Prior Learning credit can be recorded on your transcript.
You will pay only for the credits you actually use for your degree (i.e., credits posted to your Alt-U transcript), whether these are all or only some of the credits awarded.
You have one year from the date of the award-notification letter to pay for and transcript your Prior Learning credits. Credits not paid for and posted to your transcript within one year are lost; however, you can start the process over by submitting a new portfolio .
You will also be informed of the cost to apply for all the credits, although you will be charged only for the credits you actually want to include on your transcript: $25/undergraduate credit hour or $30/graduate credit hour. Your advisor will work with you to decide which and how many credits you can use. (New rates effective August 10, 2021.)