Prior Learning Assessment

Earn College Credit for What You Know and Can Do

Have you dreamed of completing a degree begun long ago? Is it overwhelming to consider beginning or returning to school after being out of the system for several years? The process may not be as formidable as you may think! You may be able to earn college credit for what you know and can do. 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 offer PLA?

Most departments offer the option of challenging courses; however, not all courses are challengeable. At Edmonds CC, most credit for prior learning is awarded on a "course equivalency" model. That means that if your learning meets the specific outcomes of an Edmonds CC course, you have the opportunity to " challenge" the course. Learning that does not meet the outcomes of a specific Edmonds CC course may be validated through a special project that may result in elective credit.

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. All credits will be counted toward Edmonds Community College's residency requirement.

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 kind of learning is appropriate?

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.

What are the benefits of PLA?

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.

How many credits can I earn?

Current accreditation standards suggest that no more than 25 percent of the credits earned through PLA processes may be applied toward degrees or certificates. Departments may have their own guidelines.

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 do I begin?

Review the descriptions of the courses offered at Edmonds Community College. To determine if the course you would like challenge is challengeable, meet with a college faculty member or the department chair in which the course is offered. Or you can go to the Academic Department link to the left of this page. Some departments have listed their challengeable courses with learning outcomes. Looking at the current textbook or requesting a course syllabus from the PLA Director (priorlearning@edcc.edu) may also be helpful.

The next step is to complete the electronic Course Challenge or Special Project Request form. You will find the form and more information by clicking the link on the left-hand column for either Course Challenge or Special Project. Be sure to read the helpful hints located using the ā€œIā€ buttons throughout the form. Your request will be reviewed by the appropriate faculty member, who will confer with the division dean. You will be notified if the request is approved ā€” you can then make a payment at the cashier desk. 

What will this cost?

At the present time, Course Challenges and Special Projects are not state-funded. A self-supporting fee of $225 is charged for each course challenge. There is no refund for unsuccessful challenges. The fee for a Special Project is $350. There is no refund for incomplete projects.

Payment by credit card can be made over the phone (425.640.1563 or 425.640.1186); by mailing a check payable to Edmonds CC to the Cashier Department (at Edmonds Community College, 20000 ā€“68th Ave. W, Lynnwood, WA 98036); or paying in person on the first floor of Lynnwood Hall on the main campus (address above).

You will work with an assigned faculty member, and the PLA Director is available to assist you throughout this process.  

For more information: Pam LeMay, PLA Director, at 425.640.1371, or plemay@edcc.edu or priorlearning@edcc.edu.