Credit for Prior Learning

Not all learning happens in the classroom. If you’re a working adult, it’s likely that you’ve gained important knowledge while on the job, by completing professional certifications, through volunteer work, and/or by serving in the military. At the University of Mary, we not only respect that kind of learning, we reward it with credits you can apply toward your evening or online degree.

The Benefits of Earning Credits for Prior Learning

If you believe your past experiences have helped you master knowledge related to your bachelor’s or master’s degree, taking the time to transform that knowledge into credits can pay dividends in two ways. It can help you:

  1. Graduate Faster
    The more credits you start with, the fewer additional credits you’ll need to earn.
  2. Save Money
    Earning prior learning credits costs less than the cost of a full course and by graduating faster you’ll pay less for your time in school.
  3. Reduce Your Course Load
    When you earn prior learning credits, you fulfill credits you need throughout your studies, meaning you may be able to reduce your course load while still finishing your degree on your schedule.

How You Can Earn Credits for Prior Learning

Earning credits for life, work, military, or any other non-classroom experience begins with a prior learning assessment (PLA). At the University of Mary, we use two methods to complete a PLA: standardized testing and portfolio review.

Tests for Prior Learning Credits

We accept scores from both the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and the DANTES Subjects Standardized Tests (DSST). Take a look at how we convert scores into credits by reviewing our CLEP chart and our DSST chart. CLEP and DSST tests can apply toward your undergraduate coursework.

View Testing Services on Campus

Portfolio Review for Prior Learning Credits

By assembling documentation of your prior learning into a written portfolio, you can earn undergraduate or graduate credit for that learning. If you want to take this path, you’ll enroll in our Prior Learning Assessment for Academic Credit class (PLS 321) to investigate what prior learning experiences can lead to credit and learn how to present that experience in a portfolio. Once your portfolio is complete, University of Mary departmental faculty will evaluate it and determine credit awards.

To learn more about the PLA process, contact our admissions office today at 701-355-8030 or