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Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

An Overview of the OWLS PLA Process – OCED 4111

Earning Work/Life Experience Credit

What it is:

PLA is a term used to describe assessment of learning gained outside a traditional academic environment.

Put another way, it’s learning and knowledge that students acquire while living their lives: working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and/or studying open source courseware.

OCED 4111, Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), allows you to develop a competency portfolio that will act as a vehicle for transcribing your work life experience and/or non-collegiate training into college level credit.

PLA Requirements:

To gain college credit, you must

  • Develop a portfolio of competency statements consisting of recognizing, understanding, and communicating your tasks and skills
  • Competency statements are a form of technical writing
  • The structure of the course is to direct you in proper competency statement formatting and procedures; most of the coursework is done in an independent study-style format
  • The course is offered fully online and in a hybrid setting with a couple evening classes throughout the semester

How Many Credits Can Be Earned:

  • A maximum of 24 credits can be earned from work/life experience, or
  • A maximum of 30 credits can be earned from non-collegiate training
  • Your instructor will help you determine which route is best for your situation
  • The PLA course may be repeated multiple times, but a different occupational code must be used for each portfolio
  • The average work/life award is 13 credits
  • Students with at least 5 years’ experience in the same industry usually benefit the most from the PLA process

Benefits of the PLA:

  • Saves substantial time and money
    • 13 credit hours are equivalent to $4674.16 in tuition and fees (2018 tuition and fees)
    • 13 credit hours are equivalent to a semester of full-time enrollment
  • Your past and/or current work experiences are valuable, and PLA aims to highlight your work and award you for it