Credit for Prior Experiential Learning

Portfolio Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Program

Portfolio prior learning assessment allows students to earn up to six credits toward an Associate of Arts and Science (AAS) degree and up to six credits toward a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree for knowledge they have gained through employment, military service, volunteer activities, workshop/seminar participation, and/or publications or performances. 

To earn credits through Portfolio PLA, you must be enrolled as a degree-seeking student and you must present a detailed portfolio demonstrating that you have mastered knowledge that is equivalent to a PLA-eligible college course for the AAS or a required service-learning or internship course for the BAAS.

See below for a list of PLA-eligible AAS courses. 
Contact a BAAS advisor to learn which BAAS courses are eligible for PLA credit.

You cannot earn academic credit for experiential learning for which you earned or transferred credit from another institution of higher learning, nor may you submit a portfolio for a course you have previously taken in order to improve your grade. 

All students must first take Introduction to Experiential Learning (LEC 110 for the AAS or LEC 310 for the BAAS). This one-credit, instructor-led course is offered online only. Tuition for a one-credit online course is charged at enrollment. This one-credit does not count towards the six credit maximum. Introduction to Experiential Learning provides the opportunity to explore whether creating a PLA portfolio is appropriate, and provides hands-on training in creating one electronically.

Upon completion of that course, you may submit an electronic portfolio to the UW Colleges PLA coordinator documenting that you have learning equivalent to the selected course.  A $100 non-refundable fee is due at that time. The portfolio will be evaluated by faculty to determine whether credit is granted. If awarded, course credit will be added to your transcript without a grade.

The experiential learning portfolio must include:

  • A standardized request form;
  • A 300 word abstract summarizing the learning and how it was achieved;
  • Your university transcript;
  • Your resume;
  • A current syllabus for the approved course for which you are seeking credit;
  • A 2,000 to 3,000 word well-documented narrative that describes the experiential learning in relation to theories, concepts and corresponding literature; and documentation that reflects familiarity with theories of the academic discipline that are central to the experience and supports the experiential statements in the narrative. The documentation may include certificates from workshops/seminars completion, copies of publications, and newsletter or newspaper articles.
  • At least one letter from a present/past direct supervisor addressing your experiential learning in relation to the course content.

One experiential learning portfolio may be submitted per semester. All portfolios must be submitted prior to your final semester. Materials submitted in one portfolio may not be submitted in any subsequent portfolio.

Guidelines for Experiential Learning Portfolio Evaluation

UW Colleges academic department policies govern experiential learning portfolio evaluation; however, some standard guidelines apply to all academic departments:

  • Upon initial review of the experiential learning portfolio by the department, the evaluating instructor(s) may require that additional information be made available to support the request. That information may include an interview with the student or the results of an examination.
  • The academic department’s decision must be given to the student no later than one semester after the student submits the portfolio.
  • The number of credits awarded is determined by the evaluating instructor(s) and reviewed by the academic department chair, but in no case shall the number of credits granted for an experiential learning portfolio exceed that of the approved course.
  • All requests for re-assessment of an experiential learning portfolio, whether approved or denied, must go to the evaluating instructor(s) and their academic department chair(s).
  • In the case of a disagreement over the awarding of credit or the number of credits to be awarded, the appeal process will follow UW Colleges Senate Institutional Policy #204, Grade Appeal Policy.

AAS Courses Eligible for PLA Credit


ANT 303, ANT 370


BUS 101, BUS 110


CHE 123, CHE 124

Communications and Theatre Arts

CTA 115, CTA 203, CTA 221, CTA 234

Computer Science

CPS 103, CPS 104, CPS 105, CPS 106, CPS 107, CPS 108, CPS 109, CPS 110, CPS 120, CPS 130, CPS 139, CPS 149, CPS 216, CPS 240, CPS 245, CPS 255, CPS 260, CPS 265


EGR 105, EGR 110, EGR 282


ENG 210


HIS 294


SOC 231, SOC 246, SOC 250

Health, Exercise Science, Athletics

HES 058*, HES 123*, HES 210, HES 213*, HES 220*, HES 225*

*specific certifications are required for the portfolio