Prior Learning Assessment Program

The Valley City State University Prior Learning Assessment Program encourages adult learners (must be out of high school for 5 years and have documented 10,000 hours of work experience) to apply learning received from life and work experiences toward a Valley City State University degree of their choice. The program offers an individual an alternate way to enter or complete a college degree program. This type of learning is often referred to as experiential learning or prior learning. The program also provides the non-traditional adult student with information about career planning.

The Prior Learning Assessment Program, administered through the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, is based on principles of good practice developed by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Valley City State University holds an institutional membership in this organization.

Student Participation

  1. A prospective PLA student completes a PLA questionnaire and submits a resume to determine their eligibility to participate in the program. The student must have taken and passed, with a C or better, at least one course from VCSU and have a minimum 2.0 GPA for all previous college coursework.
  2. Upon approval, the student will register for UNIV 180, Prior Learning Assessment for Credit (offered every semester) to begin work on documenting the learning.
  3. Through the Prior Learning Assessment Program, student learners may apply for credit in the following areas: general education, major, minor, related field/cultural studies, and electives. PLA credits cannot be used toward the secondary or elementary education degrees, according to the Education Standards and Practices Board regulations.

Portfolio Process

  1. The student registers for UNIV 180, Prior Learning Assessment for Credit.
  2. The student may arrange for credits through the College-Level Education Program (CLEP), challenge tests, transfer credit, the military (ACE), and other sponsored, recognized methods.
  3. The student prepares and submits the portfolio for evaluation for experiential credit awards. The time line for an adult learner to submit a completed portfolio is two years from the end of the semester that the learner was enrolled in UNIV 180.
  4. Academically appropriate faculty members evaluate the portfolio to determine whether credit should be granted or not.
  5. The Vice President for Academic Affairs makes a final determination on the awarding of credits.
  6. The adult student will be charged a reduced rate of the resident tuition per credit for each PLA credit. The amount, $50.00 will be for the portfolio evaluation and the transcription fee (SBHE policy 805.3).



Faculty members, during the credit request evaluation procedure, may do one of the following:

  1. Approve student credit requests.
  2. Conditionally approve student credit requests and require supplemental work.
  3. Deny student credit requests.


A faculty member may determine that a student has demonstrated or documented mastery of a portion of the content of a course but not at a level appropriate for approval of credit. In this case, the faculty evaluator may negotiate, with the student, additional work. 

Faculty members may also, in some instances, assist an individual student in attaining minimum course standards through the use of Special Topics courses. Use the special topics course numbers 499, 399, 299, and 199. The form must be approved by the instructor, the department chair, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs. 


Faculty Compensation

Faculty evaluators are compensated at $40.00 per academic credit. These payments are made at the end of each semester.

Portfolio Retention

Portfolios are retained by the university until the student graduates. At the time of or after graduation, students are sent their documentation materials and the following two forms are retained as permanent records of the university: Request for Experiential Credit, and Faculty Evaluation. Copies of these two forms are also on record with the Registrar’s Office.


Appeal Procedure

Any student who disagrees with the evaluation of an individual course request may appeal the decision through the following procedure:

Step 1. The initial step to resolve a disagreement of evaluation is to meet with the instructor who evaluated the course request. If the disagreement of evaluation is not resolved at this point, step 2 of the appeal procedures would be initiated.


Step 2. The student should submit in writing to the PLA Coordinator, the nature of the complaint. At this point, a meeting will be scheduled with the PLA Coordinator and the appropriate department chair. If the evaluation disagreement is not resolved to the satisfaction of the student, he or she may appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.


Step 3. The Vice President for Academic Affairs, after consultation with all parties involved, will make a final decision regarding the matter.

Step 4. Appeals of the Vice President for Academic Affairs' decision are directed to the University Hearing and Appeals Board. A request for a hearing by that board may be made by the student and all operations guidelines set forth by the board will be followed.

Sponsored by: Vice President for Academic Affairs 

Effective: Fall, 1990

Reviewed: Winter 1996

Revised: December 1998

Revised: October 2015

Revised:  October 2020