Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Portfolio

Excelsior College offers our enrolled and future students the option to pursue PLA Portfolio through a partnership with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and LearningCounts.orgTM

Earn College Credit for What You Already Know

PLA is the evaluation and assessment of an individual's life learning for college credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education or training. This can include assessment of learning through:

  • Work
  • Employer training programs
  • Military service
  • Independent study
  • Volunteer or community service
  • Open source courseware study

You document your learning by writing about your previous learning, making a video of yourself performing a task, providing a product of your work, or having a third party verify your knowledge. A faculty expert then evaluates your documentation—your portfolio—to determine if your learning is equivalent to college-level work and may recommend awarding appropriate college credit.

Benefits of PLA Portfolio

Earning credit for life and work experience offers these benefits:1

  • Faster time to degree completion
  • Cost effective
  • Degree completion at higher rates than for students without PLA credit

View student testimonials about PLA through

How It Works at Excelsior

All the details are on our Portfolio Assessment policy page, but here's a quick overview:

Enrolled Students:

  1. You must talk to your Excelsior academic advisor first: You need their approval to proceed with PLA Portfolio.
  2. After advisor approval, take and pass Excelsior's online course CCS 202: Prior Learning Assessment Theory and Practice.2, 3
  3. Complete the Advisor Approval Form (AAF) (PDF, login required) and submit it to your Excelsior academic advisor for review, discussion, and approval.
  4. You contact to begin to develop and then submit your portfolio.
  5. assesses your work and recommends credits accordingly.
  6. You request an official transcript to be mailed to us to have the credits evaluated toward your degree plan.

Future Students:

You can take advantage of PLA through without being enrolled in Excelsior College. If you enroll in an Excelsior degree program first, an Excelsior academic advisor will work with you to make sure a PLA Portfolio is an appropriate option for your degree plan.

We strongly encourage you to first take Excelsior's online course CCS 202: Prior Learning Assessment Theory and Practice.3

After you complete the PLA Portfolio through you then request an official transcript to be mailed to us. Recommended credit will be applied to your file upon enrollment, use of our OneTranscript® service, or a Preliminary Review.


1Source: Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) study.
2Completion of Excelsior's Information Literacy and Written English requirements is a prerequisite for CCS 202: Prior Learning Assessment Theory and Practice.
3If you have already successfully completed Excelsior course CCS 201, you have until June 30, 2013 to submit a portfolio to without having to repeat a 3-credit portfolio development course. It is imperative that you speak with your academic advisor to determine if portfolio assessment is still a viable option for degree completion.

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