Prior Learning Assessment

Additional information on the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process and the PLA handbook are available for download.

PLA is a process used to earn college credit for learning that has been acquired outside of the traditional classroom. A maximum of 32 credit hours from all programs (including high school Advanced Placement credit) can be earned toward a bachelor’s degree and 16 credit hours can be earned toward an associate degree. Up to 25 percent of the total program hours required for a master degree can be earned through PLA. While credit is awarded for prior learning, no grades are assigned. Certain programs cannot award credit for prior learning because of rules created by Indiana licensing and regulatory agencies. No duplication of credit is allowed.

Types of Prior Learning

Proficiency Examinations (CLEP, Excelsior)

In addition to the tests offered by CLEP and Excelsior, some academic departments at the University of Saint Francis may offer challenge examinations that allow you to demonstrate college-level competency by means of internally constructed examinations. These USF credit-by-exam opportunities are not available in all departments; please contact the specific department if you would like more information.

Military Training

The American Council on Education (ACE) has worked cooperatively with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Armed Services in establishing standards for recognizing learning acquired in military service. This learning may be worth college credit. You must submit a military transcript (e.g., AARTS, College of the Air Force, etc.), DD214 and/or DD295 to the Registrar’s Office for evaluation.


The self-prepared prior learning portfolio is the most commonly accepted method used to evaluate prior learning. It is a collection of narratives and written documentation that articulates your academically relevant, non-college classroom learning on a per-course basis.

You should meet with the Registrar in the Pope John Paul II Center, Room 207 (or call 260.399.7700, ext. 6524) to review the portfolio process. The portfolio handbook, which explains the process and contains the forms to submit, will be provided at the time of the interview. Before beginning the portfolio process, you must pay a fee at the Business Office in Trinity Hall.

Once your portfolio is completed and turned in, a faculty evaluator will review it to determine if credit can be awarded. You will receive notification of the outcome of the portfolio evaluation from the Registrar’s Office.