Prior learning assessments (PLAs) provide a pathway to enable students who have stopped short of a degree, but have acquired knowledge through other means, the chance to complete their education. PLA is a process through which students identify areas of relevant learning from their past experiences, demonstrate that learning through appropriate documentation, and submit their materials so that they can be assessed and possibly awarded academic credit relative to specific course objectives.

GOALS of the PLA Process:

  • Recognize and reward experience outside of the classroom
  • Help students save time and money by reducing duplication of learned material

ATC may award college credit with the following methods:

  • Military Training - Credit awarded based on the American Council of Education or the Community College of the Air Force.
  • Student Portfolios - Credit awarded by faculty evaluation of a student's documented life-work.
  • Corporate Training - Occupational training provided by organizations and/or manufacturers.
  • Apprenticeship Training - Training provided through an official work-based program (often required for licensure).
  • Professional Certification and Licensure - Specialized certifications earned through training programs and required for employment (example: POST, BICSI, Trade Organizations) For a crosswalk of possible credit awarded, see the PLA Crosswalk.
  • Institutional Exemption Exam - Challenge exams that demonstrate a mastery of the course competencies.
  • Standardized Exam Credit - Credit based on nationally normed exams including, but not limited to CLEP (College Level Exam Program), International Baccalaureate Credit (International Baccalaureate Exam), Advanced Placement Exams (AP).

Frequently Asked Questions

How much credit can I earn?

  • It will vary with the hours required to graduate; however, you must meet the residency requirement of the college which is 25% of the program. Also, student are only able to receive up to 18 credit hours of transferrable/PLA credits per semester

Am I guaranteed college credit?

  • In areas outside standardized testing, the registrar and faculty will make recommendations for credit. Although no guarantees can be made, all efforts to advise the student of the likelihood of earning credit will be made.

Ho much will it cost?

  • There is no cost associated with the PLA process or for the credits that may be awarded. This includes ACE recommendations, pre-approved courses for industry/professional certification and/or licensure, or student portfolios. Costs will be incurred for other advanced placement methods such as institutional exemption exams and standardized testing which are outlined in the student catalog.

What if I'm not in agreement with the recommendation for credit?

  • You have the right to appeal the college's decision with the program dean, but ultimately the college reserves the right to deny the awarding of credit based on the faculty's findings thus ensuring the quality of education delivered by ATC.

Must I complete any courses and a required number of credit hours before I apply for advanced placement?

  • No, there are no credit hour requirements or courses you need to complete prior to requesting PLAs

More Information

For questions or more information about Prior Learning Assessments (PLA), please contact ATC’s Registrar’s Office at or 229-430-3510.