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Credit for Prior Learning

Many students who participate in learning experiences outside the classroom wish to earn college credit for their work. Columbia College offers a number of ways students may earn such credit. CLEP tests, ACE credit and course test-outs are the preferred means because they require a theory-base for awarding credit, have national norms/criteria or both. If none of the above credit-awarding methods are an option, Columbia College awards credit for prior learning.

Before applying for credit for prior learning (CPL) credits, students must have completed 12 hours of Columbia College credit. Students also must have completed ENGL 111 and ENGL 112 or their equivalent with a grade of C or better. These credits, if taken at Columbia College, may be included in the 12-hour requirement.

Credit Award

Columbia College courses that offer CPL credit are generally applicable to degree requirements. A maximum of 15 credits of prior learning can be awarded. CPL is not awarded where college credit in a similar course has been earned. CPL credit does not count toward Columbia College residency.

Fields in which CPL is available:

  • Accounting
  • Art
  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Management
  • Marketing

Standards for Quality

CPL is evaluated using the following criteria:

  • It has general applicability outside the specific situation in which it was acquired;
  • It articulates theories, principles and general techniques;
  • It has both a theoretical and practical understanding of the subject area;
  • It may be assessed by a faculty expert;
  • It is of college-level quality as determined by the faculty expert;
  • It meets specific course objectives or competencies and has a relationship to degree aspirations or educational goals;
  • The knowledge or skill represented as learning is current with that expected in the classroom/employment situation; and
  • The level of confidence equals or exceeds what would normally be considered a C level of performance in the classroom.

Portfolio Assessment

Students seeking CPL must submit a portfolio of relevant information that describes the learning acquired in a specific course area. Portfolio contents are described thoroughly in the document linked below. An evaluation assessment fee of $75 per credit hour is required for each course submitted for review, payable upon submission of the portfolio.

Learn more and Apply

For more detailed information, the CPL forms and a list of courses for which CPL is available, download this printable CPL document.

If you have any questions, contact Jerry Patton, Assistant Dean for Adult Higher Education.