What Is Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)?
Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is a term used to describe the assessment of college level learning that is gained outside a traditional academic environment.

CPL enables you to enrich or accelerate your program of study by eliminating duplication of educational efforts. Credit is granted to degree-seeking students for verifiable college level learning, either knowledge or skills, acquired through life or work experience. Course credit is awarded when content mastered through a prior learning experience is equivalent to the student learning outcomes of an SCC course. This equivalency is validated by academically sound and rigorous prior learning assessment methods.

How do I get started?
To begin the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) process, you should first review the CPL website to learn as much as possible about the different CPL methods and which might apply to you. Then, contact the CPL Coordinator to discuss your specific case.

In developing your credit for prior learning request(s), you will work with the CPL Coordinator and program faculty to determine:

  • if the learning is college-level
  • if the learning is appropriate to the degree plan you are developing
  • how best to demonstrate your learning

How do I know if my knowledge is college-level?

  • The learning should be theoretical as well as practical.
  • You should be able to identify the principles involved in doing what you are able to do.
  • The learning should be equivalent to college-level work in terms of quality.
  • The learning should be identified as college-level when evaluated by an expert in the field. This means you should be able to convince an expert evaluator through description or demonstration that your knowledge or competence is at the college-level.
  • Complete the CPL self-assessment

Do I get credit for life and work experience?
Indirectly, yes. Academic credit results from knowledge demonstrated at the college level, and your knowledge may be a result of your work and life experiences. This knowledge should fit the equivalent of a college course taught at SCC and meet the requirements of your degree program.

Must I be a South Central College student to participate in CPL?
Yes, you must be a fully admitted student at South Central College.

How much credit am I allowed to earn through CPL?
The maximum number of CPL credits awarded will be determined on a programmatic basis not to exceed two-thirds of the program award requirements. There is no limit to the total number of credits a student may earn through CPL so long as the total earned credits apply to their academic program and do not exceed the academic program credit limit. You will still be expected to meet SCC residency requirements.

What are the residency credit requirements for graduation?
CPL credits awarded through internal assessment, like challenge exams, will count for institutional residency and toward graduation residency requirements as found in Minnesota State Board Policy 3.36 and Procedure 3.36.1 Academic Programs. Credits earned through standardized exams are not resident credits and may not be used to satisfy resident credit requirements for graduation.

Will I get the academic credit I have requested?
Although there is no guarantee that you will receive credit, the CPL Coordinator, your academic advisor and your faculty assessor work with you to ensure that you have a strong possibility of earning academic credit.

Can I transfer CPL credit from another institution?
South Central College will allow the transfer of credits earned through Prior Learning Assessment at another Minnesota State College or University institution so long as those credits correlate to a specific course that is required for the student’s program major, and given that the course in question is equivalent to a required South Central College course. This might involve a meeting with a faculty assessor, or a request to see original documents.

Will other colleges accept SCC CPL credit?
South Central College does not guarantee that another college or university will accept CPL credit in transfer. Students planning to transfer to a college or university should contact the receiving institution to determine the acceptability of transferring CPL.

Does the experiential credit I earn count towards required general education courses?
Yes. When you earn CPL credit, it is applied to your academic record in the same way as is classroom credit.

How long does it take?
It depends on which CPL method(s) you plan to use. For a challenge exam, consider the amount of time you need for study and preparation and the time to schedule the examination. The evaluation of the examination takes up to two weeks. For the development of a portfolio, students usually take about a semester. The number of courses attempted through the portfolio determines the amount of time. The evaluation of the portfolio takes up to four weeks.

What does CPL cost?
Cost varies, based on the method you choose. For a complete listing of student fees, please see our fees schedule. Note that all CPL fees must be paid in advance of the assessment and are non-refundable.

If I'm not granted academic credit, do I still have to pay the fees?
Yes. The cost to you is based, in part, on work involved for the faculty assessor. Regardless of outcome and/or credit granted, a faculty assessor must still provide and grade a for CPL.

Does CPL credit affect my financial aid award?
Part-time or full-time status is determined by the number of semester credits in which you are enrolled. Since you do not enroll for a CPL Assessment, do not count courses you are attempting through CPL Assessment toward part-time or full-time status. For specific information regarding financial aid, please contact the SCC Financial Aid Office.

If my employer provides tuition assistance, will it also reimburse assessment fees for CPL?
Many employers, if already providing tuition assistance, will also reimburse assessment fees. The CPL Coordinator, at your request, can provide a letter of explanation to your employer.

How will I know if I've earned credit?
The CPL Coordinator will notify the student in writing of the final outcome of their CPL Assessment Request.

If I am granted credit, what will appear on my transcript?
The title of the course, the course number, the number of credit hours, and your grade are documented on your transcript.

Is CPL credit different from academic credit for which I earn a grade?
No. CPL credit is regarded the same as graded credit, and counts towards the total credit hours required for graduation. If you plan to transfer to another institution, however, your CPL credit may not be honored. The CPL Coordinator can provide an explanation to another institution, if you request it.