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Credit for Prior Learning

Hard work pays off.

There is a lot you may have learned outside of a traditional classroom. The credit for prior learning process lets you show what you know that may be equivalent to college level coursework.

Credit for Prior Learning provides a range of opportunities — recognition of military and workforce training, national examinations, portfolio development. Earning credit for prior learning saves you both time and money by making your life experience count as credits toward your degree.

As the American Council on Education has noted, “Many nontraditional students can demonstrate college-level knowledge and competencies. Such learning — gained from experiences outside postsecondary education — often merits academic credit.”

William Woods University embraces this philosophy. Credit may be awarded for verifiable learning gained through work experiences, volunteer work, in-service training, adult or continuing education, or involvement in professional organizations.  We are proud to be a Missouri recognized leader in providing educational opportunities to adult learners for more than 25 years.


Credit for Prior Learning Academic Policies

  1. All current and potential students of William Woods University are eligible to participate in the process for earning credit for prior learning.
  2. The learning experience demonstrated and verified through prior learning assessment must be academic equivalent of college-level learning.  Developmental, remedial, or self-help courses are not comparable to college-level courses.
  3. PLA credit may apply towards both lower division and upper division credit requirements of the University’s undergraduate degree programs unless specified otherwise in policy or limited by the state or jurisdiction of a student’s residence.
  4. Credits awarded for prior learning are identified on the student’s transcript as either credit awarded on the basis of examination or credit awarded on the basis of credentialed/life/military experience, or portfolio assessment.
  5. The learning experience for prior learning assessment petition must have taken place following the student’s graduation from high school.
  6. The award of prior learning hours earned through the petition process may not exceed 36 credit hours for a baccalaureate, 15 credit hours for an associate degree, or 9 credit hours for a graduate degree.
  7. Transferability of prior learning credit is at the discretion of the receiving institution and is not guaranteed to transfer to other institutions.
  8. Federal funds in the form of student financial aid are not available for coursework achieved through credit for prior learning.  Private loans information can be found here
  9. The cost of prior learning assessment review will be $100/per credit hour.  

Earn Credit for Prior Learning in a number of ways:

Prior Learning credits can be earned through military credits, CLEP, Dantes, AP exams, Law Enforcement Training Institute, petition and through WWU239.

Credentialed Learning

Students may receive prior learning credits for a variety of approved standardized tests, certifications or courses completed through non-degree granting institutions with American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations.  Transcripts or test results should be sent to the Office of the Registrar for evaluation. There is a $75 fee for each undergraduate credit hour ($100/ Graduate credit hour) transcribed for Credentialed Learning.

Admissions and Financial Aid »

Credentialed Learning »


Military Service

We are proud to welcome Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve service members, and Veterans and we thank you for your service.

William Woods University values the specialized training our military and veteran students gain throughout their service and the exceptional talent and extraordinary experience they bring to the William Woods campus. As such, we follow the American Council on Education's, "Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services" to ensure you receive appropriate transfer of credit for military education. Please check their webpage for military training that you may be able to transfer into your William Woods degree program.

The University also accepts credit earned through CLEP/DANTES exams for military and veteran students.


Credit by Examination

Students may earn credit for a number of examinations, including Advanced Placement (AP) exams, primarily administered in high schools, Dantes, IBO International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Examination Scores, and CLEP College Level Examination Program Scores.

See a complete list of exam scores for credit for each of these exams »


Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI)

Students at William Woods University who have attended a ìPOSTî certified police training academy and wish to receive academic credit for their experience will be subject to the following rules:

  1. The academy must be certified by the Missouri Department of Public Safety Peace Officer Standards and Training program (POST). Out of state programs will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
  2. The hour requirement must meet or exceed present hourly requirements as listed by POST. Full time academy is generally 600 hours (most are 700). See Missouri Stat. 590.040.1.
  3. Academy training that was completed more than 5 years beyond the date the student applies for equivalency will not be considered.
  4. Student will receive 15 credit hours of equivalency which will come in as general elective credits. The application of these credits to any specific courses in the Criminal Justice Department shall be up to the Department Chair of the Criminal Justice Department.
  5. Application for this type of credit should generally not be in oneís last semester of their degree program and is discouraged; however, a special application can be made to the Criminal Justice Department Chair for consideration.

Credit for Prior Learning Petition

Your life experiences — lessons learned, skills refined and knowledge gained — have played an invaluable role in shaping the person you are today, and they should play an equally important role in the path toward your degree. At William Woods, adult learners with extensive life and professional experience can meet with a personal faculty mentor to help them determine what experiences can be counted toward their education and walk them through the process of petitioning for Credit for Prior Learning.

Follow the process below to petition for Credit for Prior Learning:

Step 1: Work with your mentor
You will be provided a faculty mentor to help identify your college-level knowledge. The Center of Professional Advancement will examine your experiences and further identify how your knowledge fits best into your degree plan.

Step 2: Describe and document your learning
You and your mentor will prepare your learning description with supporting documentation. The Center of Professional Advancement then reviews your Credit for Prior Learning request with supporting documentation and gives feedback as needed.

Step 3: Complete your prior learning request
You submit your request to your mentor, who then reviews your request and, if ready for approval, recommends credit for prior learning. The Center of Professional Advancement reviews material and recommendation and makes a final decision for credits awarded.

Prior Learning Assessment Course

Prior Learning Assessment (WWU239) is a one-credit course that helps students identify and document professional and academic learning experiences and compare them with objectives of selected William Woods University courses. The process leads to the development of two life learning petitions, which are submitted to University faculty and evaluated for possible academic credit. 



Is there a fee associated with applying for prior learning assessment?

Yes. Though credits themselves cannot be purchased, the fee charged for reviewing the Petition will vary according to the number of credits applied for. There is a $75 fee for each undergraduate credit hour transcripted for credentialed learning and $100 fee for each graduate credit hour transcripted for credentialed learning.


Is there a limit to the number of credits for prior learning that I can earn?

Yes. William Woods limits the number of Lifelong Learning Hours earned to 30 credits for undergraduate students and 9 for graduate students. In addition, no more than 12 credits will be granted for prior learning gained through vocational endeavors such as practical, industrial, mechanical or applied sciences.


Does it matter how much time has passed since I completed the prior learning for which I’m seeking credit?

Though there is no specific time limit on how long ago your prior learning was achieved, the learning experiences demonstrated and verified through the Prior Learning process must have taken place following the student’s graduation from high school.


Do I need to submit any other materials for review in addition to my Petition for prior learning assessment?

Yes. Documentation will be required to accompany the Petition to verify the authenticity and appropriateness of the learning experience and the knowledge gained.


What if credit for prior learning is denied following review?

If credit is denied, the fee for the review of the Petition must be paid before the student can enroll in the next semester and/or obtain official transcripts.


What if I disagree with the Evaluator's assessment?

Students may request reassessment of a submitted petition. Evaluators may ask for an addendum at this time. Only one appeal per petition can be made. No partial credit will be awarded.


Are the contents of the petition kept confidential?



Can the credits for prior learning that I earn count towards financial aid or housing requirements?

No. Our policy regarding Prior Learning Assessment is that credits awarded through PLA do not fulfill residency requirements nor do they meet eligibility for financial aid or loan deferment.


Are there any other prerequisites before applying for PLA credits?

All students applying to earn credit for prior learning must be currently enrolled and pursuing a degree at William Woods University and must have completed 12 credit hours, must have taken and received credit for English 102, and must have a current GPA of 2.0 or higher.


Are there any other ways I can obtain college credit outside of PLAs?

Below are a few ways you may earn credit. Each have different requirements. Please contact William Woods University for more information.

  • Advanced Placement Program
  • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • Dual Credit (DC)
  • Dual Enrollment (DE)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • Credit by Exam Summary

See a complete list of exam scores for credit for each of these exams. »

Take the next step

Contact Bonnie Carr
Associate Dean of Academic Services and Assistant Professor of Equestrian Studies