Prior Learning Credit

Adults returning to college or beginning to seek a college degree may wish to investigate opportunities available to them through Credit for Prior Learning. In order to earn Credit for Prior Learning, students must demonstrate that from significant experiences in their lives they have acquired knowledge and/or skills and abilities that are the equivalent of learning acquired from a college course. This learning (called Prior Experiential Learning) can be the result of a variety of life experiences: employment, volunteer work, community service, travel, military service, or courses at non-collegiate institutions.

Credit is granted for learning, not experience, and will be earned only when the student has successfully demonstrated that the learning acquired is the equivalent of that gained through courses traditionally taught in colleges, that it is at a level of achievement equal to what is normally required in college courses, and that it consists of current knowledge that shows both theoretical understanding and practical application of the subject area.

Credit for Prior Learning is limited to a maximum of 30 credits for undergraduate students and 6 for graduate students, and may be used to fulfill the core curriculum requirements and electives. In some cases, they may be used to fulfill program requirements. Grades for credit earned for prior learning are given as pass or fail. Students in a degree program at Stevenson University can pursue Credit for Prior Learning through the following:

  1. CLEP Examinations. CLEP, a program of the College Entrance Examination Board, is a nationwide system of credit-by-examination. Stevenson does grant credit to undergraduate Stevenson students earning Stevenson designated passing scores on CLEP exams. Students who are interested should contact the Undergraduate Student Success Coach for details about which exams are the equivalent of selected Stevenson courses. If the student achieves the designated passing score on an accepted examination, and submits official documentation of the test results, college credit will be awarded.
  2. DSST Examinations. The DSSTs are exams students take to earn college credit. These exams are available not only to students in the military but to all students who are interested in earning college credit. The DSST exams are administered on military bases (for military students and their spouses) or at a participating institution. Undergraduate students who choose to take the DSST exams can earn up to three college credits and upper or lower level credit. The credits are awarded by the American Council on Education. For information and registration, please visit Students are strongly encouraged to speak with the Undergraduate Student Success Coach to determine which DSST exams are right for them
  3. Departmental Challenge Exams. Undergraduate students wishing to earn credit by taking a Stevenson departmental challenge exam should contact the Undergraduate Student Success Coach. Graduate students should contact the Graduate Student Success Coach. The content of departmental examinations is determined by the academic department chair. Students must qualify to take exams by demonstrating that they have substantial experience and expertise in the subject area.
  4. Portfolio Presentations. The Stevenson University portfolio provides students with a vehicle for converting into college credit college-level learning that has been achieved through verifiable professional work experiences and other life experiences. It is an option designed to assist the adult student in pursuit of a degree. Converting experiential learning through the portfolio benefits the adult student by decreasing the number of classroom hours and expense required for degree completion. Through the portfolio, students systematically demonstrate and document college-level learning equal to specific courses within Stevenson's academic disciplines. The cost for portfolio review is $600.

To qualify to petition for prior learning credit through the portfolio, students must meet with the Associate Dean for Business Programs and submit documentation of at least three years full-time and/or five years part-time professional or community experiences, be in good academic standing (cumulative GPA 2.00 in course work at Stevenson University), and seek approval of the Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies for specific courses for which to petition for credit.

Up to thirty college credits may be petitioned through the credit for the prior learning option for the undergraduate student, six for the graduate student. Not all graduate programs permit credit for prior learning. Each course must receive prior approval by the Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. Completed portfolios are reviewed by faculty evaluators who determine a grade of "P" (Pass) or "NC" (for "No Credits Awarded"). Credits are awarded only if students successfully demonstrate that their documented experience meets the requirements of the course petitioned. Awarded credits are posted on the student's transcript and are counted toward degree completion requirements.