Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Be recognized for what you know

You have gained experience and knowledge through your professional and personal life. You can have this learning recognized and used to support your path to your undergraduate degree through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).

There are many forms of experience that lead to college level learning. These include your professional career, training, community and volunteer work, self-directed learning projects, personal life experiences and much more.

Save time, save money

By participating in PLA, you could graduate up to 2.5 years earlier, and save as much as $16,000 off the cost of your degree.

Four ways to earn Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

At Lewis University, up to 30 credits of PLA may be awarded and includes:

  1. PLA portfolio for University Studies (general elective credit)
    • Earn up to 30 hours in elective credit by writing a portfolio
  2. Proficiency exams (CLEP, AP, DSST)
    • Take standardized tests to earn credit for courses.
  3. Professional training, military training, certifications, licenses
    • Earn credit for approved trainings you have completed before you came to Lewis University.
  4. PLA for a Lewis Course
    • Earn credit for Lewis University course through a portfolio or exam.

Key policies

Students must have earned 12 credit hours of coursework at Lewis, and be degree-seeking at Lewis in order to be awarded credit for PLA.

A total of 30 undergraduate credits may be awarded for all forms of PLA, including the University Studies portfolio, portfolio for course credit, successful completion of AP, CLEP or DSST tests, departmental challenge examinations, and certificated credits for license holders (i.e. military, nursing, criminal justice, and aviation).

PLA credits earned are posted on a Lewis University transcript on a pass/no credit basis and do not apply to a student's grade point average or consideration for honors at graduation. PLA credits may not duplicate other credit that appears on a student's transcript. Credits earned through PLA are not considered for meeting the 32-hour residency requirement at the University; PLA credits also do not satisfy the transfer credit hour requirement for admission into an accelerated degree program.

PLA must be completed before the student's final semester at Lewis.

All students interested in earning college credits by completing a Prior Learning Portfolio are required to register for the 3 credit hour, PROF 21000 – Learning From Experience: PLA.

A detailed description of Prior Learning Assessment can be found in the Lewis University Undergraduate Catalog.

For further information, contact Dr. Cynthia Stevens at (815) 834-6938 or

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