Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is based upon the theory that learning occurs in a variety of settings, within and beyond the classroom, and that students bring various learning experiences from their life, work, and their service to their community. PLA is a method of documenting students’ experiences and a process to facilitate the student’s demonstration of their understanding of theory and application as they pertain to specific discipline competencies. PLA at the graduate level is validated in a variety of methods: military training, professional certification, and/or portfolio evaluation. Awarding of credit using the PLA method is distinct from credit awarded through the transfer credit procedure. See separate transfer credit policy.

At the graduate level, programs must determine which courses and the maximum number of hours that are eligible for Prior Learning Assessment. The total amount of PLA hours, and or combined with transfer credit, must still adhere to the one-third institutional residency requirement of UIW courses.

Programs that want to implement PLA options in their program must present the courses eligible, criteria of review, and process of submission via the curriculum process. Program criteria will then be appropriately documented in the Graduate Catalog. Graduate programs are not required to offer prior learning assessment.


Prior Learning Assessment credits are only applicable to graduate programs that have approval via the curriculum process. 

  • The credits awarded by PLA will not count toward the residency requirement.
  • Because of the time required for submission and evaluation, students may NOT submit a PLA evaluation request during their graduating semester.

  • Any fees associated with the submission, evaluation, and award of portfolio credits may be determined by the program but are not required. 

  • PLA credit will not be awarded for a course in which credit was awarded via university processes (to include an F, W, AU, P/S, or I/IP).

  • Credit will be awarded only if the course and/or credit is required for the degree or when elective credits are needed to reach the requisite hours required for the degree.

  • Credit will only be awarded for courses equivalent to courses listed in the UIW catalogs.

  • The UIW equivalent course title and credit hours awarded will have a grade of S recorded. No other grades will be recorded.

  • PLA credits may not apply toward all degree programs and the acceptance of PLA credits is contingent upon departmental approval.

  • To receive PLA credit, a student must be currently enrolled in the graduate program granting PLA. 

Eligibility, process, and review criteria for military training, professional certification, and/or portfolio assessment must be determined by the program and clearly articulated within the Graduate Catalog. 

Programs with a Prior Learning Assessment Option

Prior Learning Assessment credit can be used in the following degree programs as approved via the curriculum process: