Prior Learning Assessment Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment

What is PLA?

Frederick Community College prior learning pathways allow students the opportunity to earn credit for college-level learning, thus accelerating their progress toward graduation.

Students who participate in the PLA program often save time and money and avoid having to complete courses already mastered so they complete their education goals at a faster rate.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the evaluation of prior college-level learning or experience based learning. Student’s work experiences, workplace training, professional licensure and certifications, military training and service, life experiences, credits earned by standardized testing, and volunteering and community service activities to name a few are often evaluated for PLA credits awards.





How can I earn PLA credit?


FCC offers seven (7) options for students to earn prior learning credit.
Learn more about Prior Learning Options in the Prior Learning Handbook.


Option 1
Option 2
Option 3
Option 4
Option 5
Option 6
Option 7


Steps to Earn a Digital Badge

Is Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Right for you?

  • Do you have at least 3 years of post-high school experience?
  • Are you comfortable writing?
  • Can your work, training, and life experiences be documented and verified?
  • Have you completed formal training (in class or online) as part of your employment?
  • Have you completed non-credit college courses and/or workshops?
  • Have you earned any college credit?
  • Have you earned certificates or licensures required for professionals in your field?
  • Have you participated extensively in community work or volunteer services?
  • Are you a current or former member of the armed forces?
  • Have you lived in a foreign country or traveled extensively since high school?

If you have answered ‘YES’ to any of these questions, you may be able to take advantage of the PLA options at FCC.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Guidelines

To be eligible to earn prior learning credit:

  • You must be a student at FCC
  • Must declare a major in a degree or certificate program.
  • If you are petitioning for ‘Portfolio’ or ‘Institutional Departmental Exam’ credit, you must be enrolled in a minimum of three (3) credits (excludes the PLAC101 course) in the same semester you are pursuing PLA credit.
  • You must be completing a program through reverse transfer.

Any credit awarded will be applied to student’s official program of study. Students should not have previously taken and received credit or attempted the course they are petitioning for credit.

  1. Students may earn up to 75% required for a program of study through all Prior Learning Assessment pathways.
  2. Students must earn at least 25% of the credits required for a program at FCC (Residency Requirement).
  3. A maximum of 15 credits can be earned through ‘Portfolio Assessment’ and ‘Institutional Department Exams.’

Remember: Credit for Prior Learning is not awarded for experience alone, but for a combination of experience and college-level learning.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?

What Departments offer PLA?

How do I get started?

Do I get credit for life and work experience?

Must I be a Frederick Community College student to participate in PLA?

How much credit am I allowed to earn through PLA?

Can I earn a “block of credit”?

Will I get the academic credit I have requested?

Are there any restrictions for PLA?

Will other colleges accept PLA credit?

How long does the process take?

How much does PLA cost?

Does PLA credit affect my financial aid award?

Can I use Financial Aid for the PLAC101 course for Portfolio Development?

How will I know if I have earned credit?

If I am granted credit, what will appear on my transcript?

Does the Grade appeal process apply to Prior Learning Assessments?





For more information regarding PLA, or to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific situation and how PLA can work for you, please contact:
Dr. Renee Davis
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Coordinator
[email protected]



Faculty Resources
FCC Digital Badging Handbook
Digital Badge Syllabus
Learning Design Badge Template