Credit for Prior Learning

Credit for Non-traditional Learning (also known as Prior Learning) is a term used to describe learning gained outside a traditional academic environment. Put another way, it is the learning and knowledge students acquire while living their lives: working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and studying open source courseware.

In short, credit for non-traditional learning is the evaluation and assessment of an individual’s life learning for college credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education or training.

Credit for Prior Learning Options

The following options are all considered types of credit for prior learning and are available to students at South Seattle College. These options provide several avenues for students to receive credit for prior knowledge and experiences.

  • Students should consult with their transfer institution prior to pursuing PLA options for transfer degrees.
  • A fee may be applied for various components of PLA assessment.


Prior Experiential Learning Portfolio

Through the Prior Experiential Learning Portfolio, students may be able to receive college credit for knowledge gained outside the classroom. This credit option is appropriate for persons who have acquired knowledge and skills in ways that are not covered by any other academic methods, including knowledge and learning gained through work experience. South's evaluation process relies on information substantiating that student experience is comparable to college-level programs. An extensive review process is required, including a written portfolio in which the student describes what was learned, how it was learned, and how it relates to the type of learning that occurs in South courses and programs. Faculty will evaluate appropriate documentation to determine equivalency. Credits are not granted for life experience but rather the knowledge a student has attained and can demonstrate for those life experiences.

*A maximum of 25 percent of the required credits in any program of study may come from the credit earned through Prior Experiential Learning Portfolio.

Prior Learning Challenge Exam

Students can challenge a course by exam.  Challenge exams are designed to test for course outcomes. The grade for the course is the grade earned on the exam. See the academic division of the course for availability and options.  A maximum of 45 credits may be earned by challenge exam.

Transferring Military Credit

As a Military Friendly School, South enables service members to earn a maximum credit for military training and education. Depending on the student’s training and the program the student pursues, South can apply college credit to the degree/certificate.  Please visit this page for more detail on this option.

Questions? Contact or call (206) 934-5387.