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Prior Learning Credit

Prior Learning Credit

Not all education occurs in a traditional college classroom, and to recognize the wealth of experiences students matriculating through the School of Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) bring, Mount Vernon Nazarene University assigns prior learning credit (PLC) for extra-institutional learning, military training, professional licenses, and certain test scores.

Prior learning credit, also known as a prior learning assessment (PLA), has been gaining traction in recent years, especially amongst adult and other non-traditional students. PLC benefits these students by:

  • Lessening the time students take to earn their degree.
  • Reducing program costs and helping students graduate with less debt.
  • Reducing the rate of remediation and increasing the likelihood working adult students will complete their degree.

Types of Prior Learning Credit Accepted

We welcome students who have experienced qualified learning opportunities outside of the classroom post-high school and award prior learning credit for several forms of non-traditional education, including:

  • Seminars
  • Military training
  • On-the-job technical and professional training
  • Standardized exams, including the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests
  • Professional licensure
  • Corporate and/or professional training, including courses sponsored by businesses, industry, the armed forces, professional schools, and other credible government associations and agencies
  • Specific government and industry training programs
  • Other activities with credible associations and agencies.

Among these options, CLEP, administered by the College Board, encompasses 33 exams across a range of subject areas. These are divided into: History and Social Sciences, Composition and Literature, Science and Mathematics, Business, and World Languages. Depending upon the institution, a CLEP exam may be equivalent to three to 12 credits.

DSST, while similar in application, was originally created for military personnel to assign college credit for training received in the field. The tests were later modified for civilian usage and, similar to CLEP, cover business, humanities, mathematics, physical science, social sciences, and technologies. Based upon how an institution utilizes DSST scores, students may earn up to three credits for a single exam.

Outside of these two exams, MVNU evaluates all PLC types based on college-level learning, defining it not strictly as equivalent experience but education obtained outside the traditional classroom setting and before taking any formal college coursework in a particular subject area. In the process, students seeking college credit for prior learning must be able to convincingly demonstrate a college-level learning outcome for their prior training, license, or education. To do this, students are asked to assemble and submit a portfolio that demonstrates their mastery of a particular subject.

Prior Learning Assessment to Receive Credit

Submissions for prior learning credit must include one or more of the following forms of supporting documentation for evaluation:

  • Transcripts
  • Licenses
  • Certificates
  • Course syllabi
  • Letters from supervisors
  • Company training histories

American Council on Education (ACE) approved courses and training documentation, as well as military Joint Service Transcripts, may also be submitted.

Among all prior learning credit types you decide to apply toward your degree:

  • MVNU accepts no more than 30 credit hours from the CLEP and DSST exams and no more than 40 credit hours from all other PLC types
  • Students, in total, can apply a maximum of 60 undergraduate credit hours from prior learning credits toward their degree
  • MVNU accepts courses and training by the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS), including those listed in the ACE National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training and the ACE Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services
  • If a course is not validated by or based on ACE guidelines, MVNU assigns one credit hour for every 30 clock hours of instruction, unless a student can make a case for why this class or training should be assigned a different value
  • MVNU has the right to not accept any ACE or NCCRS course recommendations
  • MVNU does not guarantee the number of prior learning credits awarded for a particular class, training, seminar, or professional education.

Once the prior learning assessment is complete, MVNU determines the value and course equivalency of all PLCs and adds them to the student’s transcript.

Learn More About Receiving Prior Learning Credit at MVNU

If you have any questions during the admissions process, your Enrollment Specialist will be able to assist you with your request for evaluation of prior learning credits. For more information, check our FAQ page or contact an enrollment specialist at an MVNU campus near you!

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