Prior Learning Assessment
Overview & Purpose
Collin College strives to provide meaningful learning opportunities for our students while also recognizing the knowledge and skills students have gained outside of the traditional college setting. The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process is designed to recognize and evaluate learning gained through diverse educational, work, and/or training experience.
PLA offers students the ability to earn college credit for learning acquired outside of a formal classroom setting. Recognizing students’ learning experiences through a prior learning assessment process helps students complete their degree or certificate sooner and at a lower cost.
Credit by Exam (National)
Advanced Placement (AP) - Administered by the College Board, Advanced Placement exams give students "the chance to tackle college-level work while they're still in high school...And through taking AP Exams, students can earn college credit and placement." Learn more about Advanced Placement at College Board or review the scores students need to qualify for college credit.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP) - Administered by the College Board, the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers students opportunities to earn college credit in select subject areas. Generally, CLEP exams are computer-based and contain multiple choice questions. Learn more about the College Level Examination Program at College Board or review the scores students need to qualify for college credit.
International Baccalaureate (IB) - The International Baccalaureate Diploma is an international program of courses and exams offered to high school students. Learn more about the opportunities available using the International Baccalaureate Diploma or review the scores students need to qualify for college credit.
Credit by Exam (Departmental)
Departmental Exam - College credit may be awarded based on a written examination and/or a skills demonstration that was developed by faculty who teach the course. These exams/demonstrations are designed to determine if a student has the knowledge/skills needed to demonstrate proficiency in the subject taught. Check the list of academic departments that offer PLA to see if there are departmental exams offered in your subject area.
Certification/Licensure – Many students attend college while working and may obtain industry certifications or licenses. Some credentials can be evaluated by Collin College faculty to determine if it is equivalent to a college credit course. Students must provide evidence of an official, current licensure or professional certification to receive credit. Check the list of academic departments that offer PLA to see which ones may offer credit based on these credentials.
Linked Courses (Credit through Continuing Education)
Linked Courses (Credit through Continuing Education) – A linked course taken through Collin College's Continuing Education is a non-credit course that matches the requirements and rigor of a college credit course. Review our list of linked courses to see which ones we plan to offer soon.
Some linked courses are eligible for PLA.
Military Credit – Students may receive course credit by presenting evidence of having satisfactorily completed a program of military training for which equivalent college credit may be given in accordance with the American Council on Education Standards and Recommendations, and/or per an evaluation by Collin College faculty.
Student Eligibility & PLA Processes
PLA Petition Requirements
To be eligible to formally petition for PLA credit, students must:
• be currently enrolled, or have been enrolled within the past five years, at Collin
• complete at least three credit hours at Collin College.
• not be currently enrolled in the course for which PLA is requested.
• have officially declared the degree or certificate for which they want to apply their PLA credits.
• meet the requirements specific to the PLA assessment option.
PLA credit may not be requested:
• for a previously completed credit course. (Courses with a grade of "F" or "W" are considered completed).
• for partial credit.
• more than once for a specific course.
Other PLA Considerations
• Students must complete at least 25% of their award at Collin College. Credit earned via PLA and transfer coursework must not exceed the 75% PLA maximum. Additionally, for workforce programs, students must earn at least one technical course at Collin College that is required to complete their award.
• PLA credit does not affect a student's grade point average (GPA). Additionally, credit earned via PLA is not guaranteed to transfer. Students who plan to transfer to another institution should consult with the receiving institution on GPA requirements and course transferability.
• Credit earned through PLA cannot be removed from a student's transcript once it has been awarded.
Steps to Get Started
1. Be a Collin College student. (If you are not yet a Collin College student, the first step would be to apply for admission at Apply Texas).
2a. Meet with Academic Advising if you have transferable coursework from another college/university or if you’ve earned credit by exam such as Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), or International Baccalaureate (IB). Academic Advising cannot provide an official evaluation of your coursework/exam scores, but they can provide guidance on how to request an evaluation and which courses would be best to take in your upcoming semester.
2b. Meet with the academic department if you have a certification/licensure that may be PLA-eligible, or if you want to take a departmental exam and/or complete a skills demonstration that the department offers.
Departments with PLA Options
Check the list of departments with PLA options to see what opportunities are offered in your subject area.
1. I have a meeting to see if I’m eligible for PLA. Should I bring anything with me?
Yes. Students should bring a current copy of their Cougar Compass degree audit with their 9-digit CougarWeb ID (CWID), their photo ID, and any potential PLA documentation such as:
- unofficial test scores (AP, CLEP, IB)
- unofficial transcripts (high school, college/university, military)
- copies of certifications/licensures
- documentation as requested by the academic department such as a resume, portfolio, etc.
2. Are there any fees that need to be paid to apply PLA credits?
Yes. For PLA-eligible linked courses, there is a $30.00 fee for each course that is changed from non-credit to credit. A receipt of payment will need to be presented at the time the petition for PLA credit is officially submitted.
For departmental PLA exams, there is a $30.00 fee for each exam that is taken. This fee applies regardless of whether the test is administered by the Testing Center or by the academic department. A receipt of payment will need to be provided before the exam can be administered.
For other forms of PLA, students may need to pay a fee when requesting their official documents. However, Collin College does not charge an additional fee when applying PLA credits for credit by exam (specifically AP/CLEP/IB), articulated high school credit, military credit, and industry certifications.
3. I took a Continuing Education (i.e. non-credit) class thinking it was for credit. Is there any way I can still get credit?
Maybe. Not all Continuing Education courses are linked with a credit course and not all linked courses are eligible for PLA. Contact your professor to confirm if the course you took was a PLA-eligible linked course. If so, a student can petition for credit within the past 5 years of taking the non-credit course. Students must also have taken at least one credit course at Collin College within the last five years to petition.
4. I’ve already been awarded PLA, but I want to change to a different award. What will happen to my PLA credits?
Your PLA credits aren’t applied to just one specific award; they’re applied to your college transcript.
If you plan to change your intended award, check your Cougar Compass degree audit in CougarWeb. It will allow you to Select a Different Program so you can see how your credits – both traditional and PLA – can be applied to different awards.