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Back to School: Receiving College Credit for Prior Learning Experiences

A group of people working together representing credit for prior learning at Tulane School of Professional Advancement in New Orleans, LA

Learning is a lifelong process, and everyone does it in different ways. Some people graduate high school and enroll in a secondary education, while others enter the workforce. Still others return to school later in life. Since people learn just as many valuable skills on the job as they do in the classroom, colleges and universities often recognize this when awarding credit for prior learning.

Credit for Prior Learning

Many students already have valuable real-world work experience or have completed coursework toward a degree before enrolling in a program of study at the Tulane School of Professional Advancement. Sometimes these earlier experiences may exempt them from certain course requirements. Exactly how much credit, if any, they will receive for prior learning will depend on which degree and program the student chooses.

College Level Examination Program

SoPA uses two main methods to award credit for students’ previous experiences, one of which is the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). The CLEP, developed by the College Board, has been used to test students on their knowledge for more than 50 years. The tests give students a chance to demonstrate their knowledge of college-level material in over 30 subjects for a chance to receive college credit. While the College Board administers and grades the tests, it’s up to each individual college or university to award credit according to their CLEP policies.

DANTES Subject Standardized Tests

The other method SoPA uses to award credit for prior learning is DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST). DSST is another assessment students can take to test the knowledge they’ve acquired outside the classroom, through independent study, on-the-job training, or some other method. Like the CLEP, DSST is recognized by thousands of institutions to award credit for knowledge of business, history, science, math, technology, and a host of other subjects.

How SoPA Awards Credit for Prior Learning

Students should not be forced to retake subjects they’ve already mastered, so SoPA awards credit to students who have taken and passed the CLEP and DSST in certain subjects. Qualified students are eligible to receive up to 24 course credits for satisfactory scores on these exams. However, it is important to note that these credits cannot be applied toward a SoPA master’s program.

Elective credit can also be received for students with certain life experiences. Firefighters, police officers, and paramedics are eligible for up to 12 credits. Additionally, undergraduate students may complete a portfolio assessment to earn up to 24 credits, and graduate students may earn up to six credits through the portfolio assessment process.

Explore the full details for how SoPA awards credit for life and work experiences.

If you’ve thought about returning to school after spending time in the workforce, you may be able to receive credit for prior learning and on-the-job experience. Call the Tulane School of Professional Advancement at (504) 865-5555 or request more information now.

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