Credit For College Level Learning – Not Experience

Empire State College does not award credit for experience. Credit is granted to degree-seeking students for verifiable college level learning, either knowledge or skills, acquired through life or work experience, not for the experience itself. For example, a student who has worked as an office manager for ten years will not be awarded credit for having ten years of office experience, but might earn credit for the ability to demonstrate learning about office administration, supervision and office technology. The student who has owned and operated an antique shop for the last five years would not receive credit for five years of business experience but might for the knowledge demonstrated about retailing, early American furniture and/or small business management.

You will need to develop an understanding of what college-level learning you have already acquired. The learning can come from many sources, including:

  • courses at colleges and universities
  • work experience
  • volunteer work
  • training programs or in-service courses
  • military service
  • community activities
  • independent reading and study

In developing your prior learning credit requests, you will work with your primary mentor to determine:

  • if the learning is college-level
  • if the learning is appropriate to the degree plan you are developing
  • how best to demonstrate your learning

Defining college-level learning can be a complex task, so you and your mentor should have several conversations about your prior learning. At Empire State College, we use the following standards to decide whether learning is college-level.

  • The learning should be theoretical as well as practical. For example, if you seek credit for supervising several employees at work, you should evidence some understanding of the concepts of motivation, management styles and job evaluation techniques as well as the routine processes of day-to-day-operations.
  • You should be able to identify the principles involved in doing what you are able to do.
  • The learning should be equivalent to college-level work in terms of quality.
  • The learning should be identified as college-level when evaluated by an expert in the field. This means you should be able to convince an expert evaluator through description or demonstration that your knowledge or competence is at the college-level.

People are learning constantly and much of what is learned, no matter how valuable, may not qualify as college-level. Some examples of these commonplace, non-college-level learning competencies might include maintaining the family budget, putting up bookshelves, buying a house or surviving a serious illness.

You may want to come up with a first approximation of credit to assist in your planning. One approach is to look at college catalog course descriptions to get an idea of whether credit is typically earned for particular studies. Another approach is to look at the descriptive booklets for the CLEP, DANTES, UExcel and TECEP examinations to see the range of knowledge each examination tests and the amount of credit that is awarded for successful completion of the examination. Credit derived directly from transcript learning, examinations, and in some cases, from licenses and certifications is easily translatable into Empire State College credits.

You can earn credit for prior college-level learning and apply it toward your associate or bachelor's degree. Your personal faculty mentor will help you determine what relevant college-level learning you already have.

Transfer credit from other colleges is one source of such prior college-level learning. Other sources include:

  • licenses and training, from the military, law enforcement, real estate profession
  • standardized exams, such as CLEP, DANTES, DSST, etc.
  • other college-level learning, such as:
    • noncredit courses
    • seminars
    • in-service trainings
    • volunteer work.

For more details on credit for prior learning, including relevant learning that has been evaluated by Empire State College, the American Council on Education (ACE) or the National College Credit Recommendation Services (National CCRS) view the student degree planning and prior learning assessment guides.