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Prior Learning Assessment

Earn College Credit for Work and Life Long Learning

Have you dreamed of completing a degree begun long ago? Is it overwhelming to consider beginning or returning to school after serving, working or engaging in a variety of learning-based projects over several years? You may be able to earn college credit for employment and other life learning activities. Through job related skills and training, independent study, volunteerism, travel, reading, listening, observing, and trying new skills, you have continued to grow and learn.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is prior learning assessment?

    Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a process that enables learners to demonstrate what they have learned, usually through life and work experiences, and have that learning assessed for college credit.

  • What departments ofer PLA?

    Most departments offer the option of challenging courses; however, not all courses are challengeable. At Spokane Falls Community College, students who wish to apply for a course challenge must be interviewed and approved through the instructional department. >

  • How will I earn college credit?

    You will be assessed through the course challenge process that will determine the degree to which you have met the learning outcomes of the course challenged. This could be a test, but it could also be a demonstration, written documentation, oral interview, or other appropriate method by which the assessor determines your understanding of the subject matter. Your grade and credits will be transcripted the quarter in which they were earned.

  • What kind of learning is appropriate?

    If you have taken courses at other institutions or received training through military or apprenticeship programs, you might also request an evaluation of your transcripts to determine possible "transfer in" credit.

  • What are the benefits of PLA?

    Knowledge that is current and corresponds to courses taught at the college may be assessed for college credit. Your level of competence should be comparable to that of students in regular courses, including both theoretical and practical knowledge of the subject. It must be possible to evaluate what you know and can do.

  • How many credits can I earn

    You will build on what you already know and can do, avoiding duplicating coursework already completed outside of the traditional classroom. Often, the time to degree completion is shortened and expenses are reduced. The combination of prior or experiential learning with classroom learning provides a more coordinated program of study.

  • Will the credits transfer to other colleges?

    Many colleges and universities accept credits earned through course challenges. To avoid disappointment, it is recommended that you check with the receiving institution before beginning the course challenge or special project processes.

  • How will I begin and how much will it cost?

    Review the descriptions of the courses offered at Spokane Falls Community College. To determine if the course you would like challenge is challengeable, contact the PLA Coordinator below.

    The next step is to complete the PLA form and pay for the attempted credits. Payment for attempted credits must be completed in advance. PLA fees are for the attempt to successfully complete the credits, not for passing the credits. Payment and form information are located here.


Students may also pursue credit by PLA Portfolio must enroll in and successfully complete a portfolio class (GENST 105 or equivalent). Students should have justification for their requests, such as a high school or college transcripts or detailed resumes and other pertinent documentation, prior to enrolling in the course. Normal credit charges apply for the portfolio course and a prior learning portfolio assessment fee will be charged upon portfolio course completion for prior learning credit awarded.

A PLA Portfolio is detailed documentation illustrating what students have been taught and successfully mastered. The required documentation varies from course to course, but may include samples of work, an essay explaining students’ experiences and knowledge, or certificates showing successful completion of workshops or seminars.

In the portfolio class, faculty and staff members will help determine which courses are the best fit for the students' skills and will help develop student portfolios. The completed portfolio will be reviewed to determine what credit can be awarded. Once the number of credits attempted is determined, students must pay the appropriate Prior Learning Portfolio Assessment fee.

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