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Earn College Credits from Prior Experience A longer, more complete description.
News & Stories:
FAQ: How to Earn College Credits Towards Your CLU Graduate Degree from Prior Experience
July 6, 2021

A master’s degree can feel like a daunting commitment, but you could be closer to your degree than you think. We value practical learning at CLU and will work with you to award credit based on demonstrated learning from work experience, professional development training, completion of certificates, and even volunteer work. You may earn up to 75% of the credits you need for your degree with prior learning.

We value leadership enough to give you credit for it.

How can I earn credits to apply to my CLU degree?

CLU students can demonstrate prior learning through a variety of ways including credit from previous courses, work, and/or life experience:

  1. Credits from a previous course completed may be applied to your CLU degree. Transfer credit assessment is completed by CLU Academic Administrators who compare the learning outcomes of a CLU course with a student’s prior coursework from a recognized institution.
  2. Students can complete CLU Course Challenges. Through CLU Course Challenges, students who have the experience and skills to address the course learning outcomes can demonstrate that mastery and earn credit for that course. To earn credit from a CLU Course Challenge, you must successfully complete a designated assignment that demonstrates learning of the course outcomes - usually a project, paper, or examination. The fee for the course challenge is $100 for each course and is limited to two courses. 
  3. Finally, enrolled students can earn credit for prior experience (CPL) through a Prior Learning Assessment, or PLA.

How do I earn PLA?

It’s important to note that you must be an enrolled student at CLU before requesting a PLA. Once enrolled, contact our Student Services Department to schedule a meeting with a PLA mentor, where you’ll talk through the process and ask any specific questions you have. If it is determined that you qualify for the PLA process, you’ll be added to our virtual PLA Lab. You’ll be able to submit your portfolio of evidence supporting your demonstrated learning and complete your PLA modules within this Lab. There is a fee of $500 dollars for the PLA process.

We’ll support you through every step of your PLA.

What should be in my PLA portfolio?

Your PLA portfolio should include:

  • Current resume.
  • Chronological autobiography, which is a letter detailing your professional experiences and explaining why you believe they qualify for credit.
  • Learning outcome submissions, which you’ll be able to submit through modules in the PLA Lab.
  • Artifacts/evidence of demonstrated learning to support experience.

    What are learning outcomes?

    Each CLU degree has program learning outcomes (PLOs) that our courses are designed to help you achieve. Each course has its own learning outcomes (LOs) that support the overall degree PLOs. You’ll see a detailed list of the LOs for each class and degree in your PLA Lab (our MPA, for example, has 40). 

    For each learning outcome, you’ll submit a shortwritten narrative describing your experience and why it achieves the learning outcome. You’ll also provide up to three artifacts that show your mastery of the learning outcome.

    You don’t have to submit materials for every learning outcome, so feel free to pick the learning outcomes that suit your experience best. However, to earn credit for the course, you have to prove that your experience covers at least 80% of its learning outcomes.

    What counts as an artifact? 

    Many things can count as artifacts, including:

    • Materials gathered through work and volunteer experience (such as awards, letters of recommendation, licenses, committee work, and seminars). 
    • Military experience. 
    • Professional credentials, licenses, training, and certifications. 
    • Verified alternative graduate-level college education (such as MOOCs).
    • Graduate credit awarded by appropriate agencies. 
    • Graduate-level external exams. 

              A complete and specific list of acceptable artifacts will be provided to you by your mentor should you choose to move through the PLA process.

              Keep in mind that providing an artifact proving you had an experience is not enough to demonstrate that you’ve achieved mastery of a learning outcome. A good artifact must show a clear picture of what you’ve learned and/or how you used that knowledge. 

              How much time will my PLA take?

              We give current students 8 weeks (one term) to complete the PLA Lab which allows you to gather materials at your own pace. We recommend that you treat your PLA Lab the same way you would any other class. In other words, do the work slowly over time and don’t try to cram everything in at the end.

              After our students submit their PLA Lab materials, a PLA screening committee and PLA decision committee will meet to assess their work. Once the committees reach a decision, they’ll send the information back to students through their PLA mentor. 

              Your life experiences have value at CLU

              At CLU, we allow our students to earn up to 75% of their degrees with credits from prior learning. It’s one more way we’re making our socially conscious master’s programs affordable and accessible for as many leaders as possible. Learn more about our master’s degrees here.