Credit for Prior Learning

You have gained experience and knowledge through your professional and personal life.  You can have this learning recognized and used to support your path to your undergraduate degree through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).

There are many forms of experiences that lead to college level learning.  These include your professional career, training, community and volunteer work, self-directed learning projects and much more. 



The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a national standardized testing program that offers exams in subject areas such as history and social sciences, composition and literature, science and mathematics and business.

Further information about the CLEP test including a complete list of available tests, testing center locations and costs is available at

Click here for a list of approved courses and required scores. 

Advanced Placement (AP)

The Advanced Placement Program offers exams in 26 different fields.  If you completed an AP course in high school and took an AP exam through the College Board, you may be eligible for college credit.

Further information about AP testing including a complete list of tests, testing center location and costs is available at

Check here for a list of approved courses and required scores.  You should send your AP scores to the Office of Admissions prior to the start of your first term.

Dantes (DSST)

DSST exams are recommended for credit by the American Council on Education (ACE) and are available for in 38 different areas.  These exams are typically funded for active-duty military and their spouses but can be completed by adult learners, homeschooled students and military veterans.

Further information about DSST exams is available at

International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate ( IB) program, is a comprehensive curriculum allowing its graduates who complete the program to take an International Baccalaureate exam.

Check here for a list of approved courses and required scores.




If you have knowledge of a subject area not covered by one of the standardized exams (e.g. CLEP, DSST), you may be able to receive credit by taking a Challenge Exam. A Challenge Exam is a comprehensive test developed by faculty for certain courses to evaluate your proficiency in a course. Similar to a final exam, a challenge exam will cover information outlined in the course syllabus, and the required textbook(s). You may only take a Challenge Exam for a course once and cannot take a challenge exam for a course that you have taken previously. If you receive a passing grade ( as determined by the faculty member),  you will be awarded the credits. 

To arrange for a Challenge examine, you should:

  • Identify the course you are interested in challenging
  • Contact the faculty member to determine whether an exam is available for the course.
  • Obtain any relevant course materials to prepare for the exam.
  • Arrange a date for the challenge exam with the faculty member
NOTE:  A fee of $90.00 is assessed for each challenge exam.  

Parkside considers the American Council on Education (ACE) credit recommendations for military education when evaluating your Joint Services transcript.  Courses recognized by ACE as appropriate for undergraduate university credit will be reviewed for transfer credit.

Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) transcripts are accepted as transfer credit from a regionally accredited institution.


Language Testing

If you are a heritage speaker in a language or  have informally learned a language taught at Parkside, you can meet the foreign language requirement if you take the UW System placement test and place into the equivalent of the third semester (intermediate level) or above.  Additional information about placement testing is available at

If you are heritage speakers in a language or  have informally learned a language not taught at Parkside, you can meet the foreign language requirement upon certification at the intermediate level through the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Students must submit official reports to the Office of Admissions and New Student Services.   Additional information is available at -


Retroactive Credits for Foreign Language

If you are degree seeking and have advanced preparation in a language, youmay earn up to 16 retroactive credits, four for each of the first four semesters of language study, if: a) you have completed the previous course work in a United States high school, b) you enroll in the college course into which you place, and c) you complete the course with a grade of B-minus or better. In order to be granted retroactive credit, you must submit an application to the Office of the Registrar at the end of the appropriate college semester.

Parkside will accept retroactive credit for foreign language if it was granted by another UW System institution and is documented on your transcript from that institution.


You can save time and money by preparing a Prior Learning Portfolio that documents your learning from specific work and life experiences. It is a very cost effective alternative option for you as an adult learner.

How it Works:

Parkside has partnered with the Council for Adult and Experience Learning through to offer a class (LBST 108- Portfolio Development Course) designed to help you build a prior learning portfolio.  The portfolio you'll build will match your knowledge and expertise to a college course.  The portfolio will then be submitted to a faculty assessor for review. 

What Kind of Learning Experiences might Qualify for Credit?:
You must be able to show that the major course learning outcomes have been met through comparable knowledge and experiences outside of the classroom.  Experiences could include:

  • Professional work experience including personnel and financial management experience
  • Public service on a board of directors or other sustained volunteer commitments
  • Specialized training including specialized licenses and certifications
  • Non-credit classes, seminars and workshops
  • Grant-writing, publishing articles, fundraising or proposal review
  • Program/Project/Grant management
  • Conducting needs assessment and program evaluations

Am I a Good Candidate for Portfolio?
The portfolio may be a good option for you if you can answer "YES" to the following questions....

  1. I have flexibility in my degree plan to earn credits through portfolio?
  2. I have at least 4-5 years of professional experience in an area that aligns with courses at Parkside?
  3. I have completed or tested out of  ENGL 100 Fundamental of English and feel comfortable writing a 5-10 page paper?
  4. I have at least some experience and feel comfortable learning online?  
  5. Take the Credit Predictor Tool

If so, meet with Ginger Emery ( or 262-595-2402) to further discuss whether this is a good option for you!   






Key Policies
  • You must be degree-seeking at Parkside to be awarded credit for PLA.
  • PLA credits earned will be posted on your transcript on a credit/no credit basis and will not apply to a student's grade point average.
  • Credits earned through PLA are not considered for meeting the 30-hour residency requirement at the University.
  • PLA must be completed before the student's final semester at UW-Parkside.

See the complete Credit for Prior Learning policy for more details.

Scroll to top
Who Are You?