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.
Non-College Education and Training FAQ's
How do I request my military transcript?
Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard – You may now request your military transcript via the Joint Services Transcript portal at https://jst.doded.mil/. You will need to create a username and password to access the site. For Air Force (CCAF) transcripts go to www.au.af.mil/au/barnes/ccaf/transcripts.asp.
What if I don’t have a military transcript?
If military transcripts are unavailable, you may submit DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) in addition to Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and copies of non-commissioned officer enlisted evaluations
Workplace Education and Training
How do I find out if my training has earned ACE college credit recommendations?
The National Guide to College Credit for Workforce contains ACE credit recommendations for formal courses or examinations offered by various organizations, from businesses and unions to the government and military. You can access the National Guide online to view courses and examinations that have been reviewed by ACE for college credit recommendations as well as a list of all organizations that have undergone an ACE CREDIT course or exam review.
Do I automatically earn college credit when I successfully complete a course or examination that has been reviewed by ACE?
No. Successful completion of such a course or examination results in actual course credit only when the course is accepted toward a certificate, diploma or degree at SCC. If you have already taken one of the courses or examinations, or plan to take one, you should contact the SCC CPL coordinator to determine the acceptability of the course for academic credit.
How can I get documentation of ACE college credit recommendations for workplace training that I have earned?
You can request an ACE transcript to document your workplace learning through the ACE CREDIT Registry and Transcript System. The ACE credit transcript lists all ACE college credit recommendations for completed courses, examinations and/or apprenticeships that have been reviewed by ACE credit.
Do I get credit for life and work experience?
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 must fit the equivalent of a college course taught at SCC and meet the requirements of your degree program.
Licensure or Industry Certification
Is My Credential Eligible for Credit?
- Do you have a professional license or credential issued by a governmental agency or professional organization?
- Did you take a proctored exam to earn it?
- Is information available about the content of the exam?
- Do you think the credentialing process verified college-level learning?
- Does your credential align with your SCC degree program?
If you answered "yes" to the above questions, consider pursuing credit for your credential.
Is taking college level courses while in High School right for everyone?
Before participating in concurrent enrollment students should consult their high school guidance counselor to check how dual enrollment courses will apply to high school graduation and scholarships. Students should also check with a college academic advisor to ensure these dual enrollment courses will apply toward a SCC degree program.
Students should understand that concurrent enrollment courses are college courses. The amount of work necessary to succeed in dual enrollment courses may be much greater than in other high school courses.
What is PSEO?
Post-secondary Education Options is an opportunity for eligible high school students to enroll in SCC courses that earn credits simultaneously for both their high school diploma and their college degree. In 1985, the Minnesota Legislature passed Minnesota Statute 124.09D to promote rigorous course taking and improve student transitions to postsecondary education.
What types of courses can a PSEO student take?
Eligible PSEO students can take a range of classes, including general education, and career and technical courses. General education course examples include English, calculus, biology, political science, art history and psychology. Career and technical courses focus on preparing students for specific occupations and can lead to a certificate, diploma or associate degree.
How much does PSEO cost?
Under the PSEO program the cost of tuition, fees and books are covered for students who are also earning high school credit. Consumable supplies specifically required for a class, such as art supplies and film, also are paid. The program does not cover general school supplies, such as notebooks, pens, pencils or non-consumable supplies, such as calculators, instrument rental or uniforms.
Can I take fully online college courses as PSEO?
Yes, PSEO allows eligible students to take SCC online college courses taught by a college faculty member.
What happens if I don’t pass a PSEO course?
That is a risk for students in this program. If a class required for high school graduation is not successfully completed, the student might not be able to graduate with his or her high school class. In addition, a grade non-passing will be recorded on your permanent college transcript.
Is there a limit to the number of credits a student can take through PSEO?
Under Minnesota Statute 124.09D, participating ninth-grade students are limited to the equivalent of four academic years of PSEO participation. Tenth-grade students are limited to the equivalent of three academic years of PSEO participation. Eleventh-grade students are limited to two academic years of PSEO participation. High school seniors are limited to the equivalent of one academic year of PSEO participation.
What is Tech Prep?
Tech Prep allows you to earn high school and college credit at the same time (this is called Dual Credit) for successfully completing certain Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses at your high school. The courses are taught at the high school, but are considered part of your college degree or certificate program which aligns with a program of study at SCC.
Is there an age requirement for when I can begin earning Tech Prep college credits?
Tech Prep classes are a part of your school district’s regular Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes. You are eligible to begin earning Tech Prep credit anytime between 9-12th grade when you are currently enrolled in an eligible CTE course.
Can I get credit for my class from multiple colleges at the same time?
No. When a Tech Prep class is available for credit at more than one college, you must choose which college you would like to receive credit from. You cannot receive credit for the same class at two colleges.
What is a badge?
A badge is a digital representation of mastery of a skill, achievement, outcome, competency, as well as verification of a technical competence through projects, programs, courses, assessments, and other activities.
- badges can represent knowledge, competencies and involvements
- badges can recognize experiences gained online
- each badge is represented as an image plus some data
- the data describes what the badge represents, who earned it and who awarded it
- earners can display their badges online and share them via social networks
Can I earn multiple badges?
Yes. Badges can be awarded for a potentially limitless set of individual skills—regardless of where each skill is developed—and a collection of badges can begin to serve as a virtual resume of competencies and qualities for key stakeholders including peers, schools, or potential employers.
There is no limit to the number of badges you can earn, and you can choose to earn badges in a variety of different competencies. You can even dive deeper into a specific subject to gain “Expert” status.
How are badges that I earn verified?
The badge itself is more than a static image or button. Its value comes from the information, or “metadata,” attached to it. When you share or display your badge, anyone who clicks on the badge will be able to see detailed information about the learning and time commitment you invested to earn your badge, including information about the badge issuer. The metadata behind each badge includes:
- Information about the badge issuer
- How and when the badge was earned
- Links back to artifacts, documents, or testimonials demonstrating the work that led to earning the badge
- Authentication back to the issuer and any relevant badge standards
This supporting data reduces the risk of "gaming" the system and builds in an implicit validation system. The metadata may vary based on the particular skill, assessment, and issuer. Viewed in this context, the faculty will understand that the badge you've shared is an authenticated credential.
Are Badges ‘transferable’?
Badges are issued with a learner’s individual identifier ‘baked’ into it. So if anyone tries to take your badge and put it in their backpack, it’s not going to work. It’ll be rejected.
How do I know someone hasn’t just bought a badge?
An Open Badge is a metadata-infused credential. A combination of the Criteria URL and the Evidence URL should validate the badge. The Criteria URL states what the earner had to do in order to be issued the badge, and the Evidence URL points to work done in order to get the badge. The anatomy of a badge includes the badge name, description, criteria, issuer, evidence, date issued, standards and tags.
Which exam(s) should I take?
Ultimately, only you can decide which exam(s) best meet your goals. However, in making your decision it is very important that you consult with your Academic Advisor who can help you choose an exam that will appropriately fit into your chosen degree program.
What standardized exam does South Central College accept for credit?
South Central College accepts the following standardized exams:
- Advanced Placement (AP)
- College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
- DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST)
- Excelsior College Examinations (UExcel)
- International Baccalaureate (IB)
- New York University Foreign Language Proficiency (NYUFLP)
- National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI)
- Thomas Edison College Examination Program (TECEP®)
How do I register for an exam?
Each exam you take requires registration on the test company website. Click on the following standardized exam name to go to the test company website
Advanced Placement (AP) Advanced Placement (AP) www.collegeboard.org/AP
College Level Examination Program (CLEP) www.CLEP.Collegeboard.org
DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST) www.getcollegecredit.com
Excelsior College Examinations (UExcel) www.excelsior.edu/exams
International Baccalaureate (IB) www.ibo.org
New York University Foreign Language Proficiency (NYUFLP) www.scps.nyu.edu/academics/departments/foreign-languages/testing/exam-options-results.html
National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) http://noctibusiness.com/assessments/
Thomas Edison College Examination Program (TECEP®) www.tesu.edu/degree-completion/Testing.cfm
How do I pay for an exam?
Each exam you take requires a testing fee paid to the test company. Each test company (CLEP, DSST, etc.) has different specific requirements for payment of their exam fee. Please refer to the test company website for the correct amounts and the accepted forms of payment.
Preparing for Exams
How do I study for an exam?
The various test companies publish information describing their exams. You should carefully review this information, as it is the best resource regarding exam content.
How long will it take to study for an exam?
Your study habits have a lot to do with the time needed. Most exams are worth 3 semester hours of college credit. The key to remember is "time" is not your focus. Learning the subject matter is what counts.
Where do I find the textbooks to study for the exam?
Many test companies provide a list of recommended books with their exam information. You may want to review the required textbook(s) for the college course for which you are seeking Credit for Prior Learning. Most course materials can be purchased through South Central Colleges Bookstore.
I am an admitted South Central College student, how do I have my exam score added to my transcript?
In order for South Central College to receive your score, you must let the test company know that South Central College is your designated score recipient. To have your exam score added to your transcript, admitted students must have an official score report sent directly to South Central College, Attn: CPL Coordinator; 1920 Lee Boulevard, North Mankato, MN 56003.
How long does it take to receive my exam score?
Some test company scores are shown immediately and the official scores are mailed in approximately two to four weeks after the test date. TECEP results take two months.
If I don't pass an exam, when can I re-take it?
In most cases, you will need to wait 60-120 days to re-take an exam.
What score do I need to pass?
The American Council on Education (ACE) recommends that each standardized test have a cut-off score. South Central College uses the Minnesota State Colleges and University recommended passing scores to award credit.
Will South Central College provide a grade for passing my exam?
Because DSST exams are standardized, normed exams, South Central College will issue a grade for passing those exams. CLEP exams are not scored in the same manner and therefore no grade other than "P" (pass) can be issued for CLEP exams.
Do exams offer different levels of credit?
Yes. Exams are offered at different levels of difficulty. The table below indicates the level as they are typically designated by test providers:
B/L: Basic or Lower (introductory) Level
I: Intermediate Level
U: Upper (junior/senior) Level
B, I, U: Combination of Basic, Intermediate, Upper Level
How many total credits can I earn by passing standardized exams?
There is no limit to the total number of credits a student may earn through standardized or national exams so long as the total earned credits apply to their academic program and do not exceed the academic program credit limit.
Do standardized exam credits count just like credits from classes I take?
Credits earned through standardized exams are not resident credits and may not be used to satisfy resident credit requirements for graduation nor do the credits count toward financial aid calculations.
Individual Assessment FAQs
Interview Method FAQ’s
What does the interview process entail?
The interview is an opportunity to engage in an in-depth discussion with the student and develop a good understanding of the learning being evaluated. The interview process is designed to provide in-depth detail and explanations about the student’s learning description. The learning description is an overview of the learning, while the interview provides further details and explanation as well as more insight into the student's depth and breadth of knowledge. Direct interaction between the student and the faculty evaluator is necessary in order to verify the learning and reach an accurate conclusion.
How will the interview take place?
Every student will be interviewed in real time (e.g., in person or Web-based software), as facial expressions, voice tonality, and/or body language all help in understanding how and what the student knows. Email may be used for preliminary communication or for follow-up to the interview, but is not appropriate for the substantive interview.
Why do I need to be interviewed?
Although the Credit for Prior Learning application includes a learning description, supporting materials as well as identifies a student’s degree program, typically alone this does not provide sufficient information to determine the student’s college-level learning.
What types of questions can I expect in the interview?
Typical questions might include:
- How was the learning acquired?
- In what ways has the learning been used?
- solving problems
- developing new methods of applying the learning
- teaching the learning to others
Some evaluators provide students with questions in advance to think about before the interview. However, often knowledge gained through experience doesn't fit a pre-defined sets of questions, so in addition to the questions you receive in advance, prepare, the evaluator may want to use probing questions during the interview in response to something that the student has shared.
What Credit Can I Earn For A Portfolio?
- Earn credit for a specific course taught at South Central College.
- Discuss how to apply the credit to your degree plan with your Academic Advisor.
When Should I Consider The Portfolio Method?
- Early in your educational planning to prevent taking classes on material you already know
- When you know the material taught in a specific course that fits into your degree plan
- When the training you completed does not have credit available from a credit review
- When you don't hold a professional credential that verifies you learned the material
- When you can't take an exam to earn the credit
How Long Does It Take?
- Plan on 2-4 months for portfolio assessment - The length of time can vary, depending on:
- Faculty availability
- Whether more information is requested
- Faculty assessors typically provide a response within 30 days of receiving your complete portfolio
- The credit is typically posted to your record within 10-15 days of finalized results
How Do I Know If The Portfolio Method Is Right For Me?
- Have you completed a college-level English composition course?
- Was your learning experience long enough and deep enough to provide opportunity to learn the material?
- Does your learning contain a mix of theory and practical application?
- Can you effectively explain both what you did and why it should (or should not) be done that way?
- Does your learning apply to multiple contexts?
- Can you describe and document your learning and show how it relates to the course learning outcomes?
- Have you successfully completed Composition?
- Are you comfortable writing research papers?
- Do you have the time to devote to a writing intensive project?
If you answered "yes" to the above questions, consider the Portfolio method of CPL.
Skills Demonstration FAQ’s
Why should I consider the Skills Demonstration method?
- Reduce or eliminate the need for hands-on training in skills and knowledge you already have
- Save time by not needing to complete unnecessary training
- Complete a course in less time
- Possibly advance to a higher level course in a shorter time if desired
What is competency?
Competence is the demonstration of skills and knowledge that you have gained through life and work experiences as well as any training that you have successfully completed and that can be matched against course outcomes. These standards are called units of competency.
What is the assessor looking for in the evidence?
The assessor is looking for evidence that is authentic, genuine, and current, and that matches the requirements of course competency. Essential skills and knowledge must be mapped to the course outcomes
Does everyone pass their Skills Demonstration?
Some students can provide sufficient evidence. Others may need to provide different forms of evidence or undergo additional training to cover any gaps.
How long will the assessment process take?
Your Skills Demonstration assessor should try to complete the process as quickly as possible. However, how quickly they can make a decision on your application also depends on how well you have prepared any documentary evidence and how well all of your evidence meets the requirements of course competencies.