Credit for Prior Learning

Adults returning to college or beginning to seek a college degree may wish to investigate opportunities available to them through Credit for Prior Learning. In order to earn Credit for Prior Learning, students must demonstrate that from significant experiences in their lives they have acquired knowledge and/or skills and abilities that are the equivalent of learning acquired from a college course. This learning (called Prior Experiential Learning) can be the result of a variety of life experiences: employment, volunteer work, community service, travel, military service, or courses at non-collegiate institutions.

Credit is granted for learning, not experience, and will be earned only when the student has successfully demonstrated that the learning acquired is the equivalent of that gained through courses traditionally taught in colleges, that it is at a level of achievement equal to what is normally required in college courses, and that it consists of current knowledge that shows both theoretical understanding and practical application of the subject area.

Credit for Prior Learning is limited to a maximum of 30 credits for bachelor's seeking students and six for master's seeking students, and may be used to fulfill the core curriculum requirements and electives. In some cases, they may be used to fulfill program requirements. Grades for credit earned for prior learning are given as pass or fail. Students in a degree program at Stevenson University can pursue Credit for Prior Learning through the following:

Advanced Placement

Incoming students who submit Advanced Placement (AP) test scores from the College Board and who achieved satisfactory scores are considered for advanced placement or credit. College credit may be granted for scores of 3, 4, or 5, depending on the subject. See for details.

These scores are reviewed and, when appropriate, placement and/or credit is granted. Credit is entered in the student’s record and can be viewed on WebXpress. Transfer students who took AP tests in the past should request their scores be sent to Stevenson from the College Board. For questions about AP credit, contact the Registrar’s Office.

International Baccalaureate

Stevenson University recognizes the IB Diploma Programme and will grant credit for scores of 5 or higher in the “Higher Level” courses only. No credit is given for courses taken at the subsidiary level or for courses that duplicate others taken for Advanced Placement credit. For questions about IB credit, contact the Registrar’s Office.

CLEP Examinations

CLEP, a program of the College Entrance Examination Board, is a nationwide system of credit-by-examination. Stevenson does grant credit to undergraduate Stevenson students earning Stevenson designated passing scores on CLEP exams. Students who are interested should contact the Undergraduate Student Success Coach for details about which exams are the equivalent of selected Stevenson courses. If the student achieves the designated passing score on an accepted examination, and submits official documentation of the test results, college credit will be awarded.

DSST Examinations

The DSSTs are exams students take to earn college credit. These exams are available not only to students in the military but to all students who are interested in earning college credit. The DSST exams are administered on military bases (for military students and their spouses) or at a participating institution. Bachelor's degree seeking students who choose to take the DSST exams can earn up to three college credits and upper or lower level credit. The credits are awarded by the American Council on Education. For information and registration, please visit Students are strongly encouraged to speak with the Undergraduate Student Success Coach to determine which DSST exams are right for them.

Departmental Assessment

Bachelor's and master's degree-seeking students wishing to earn credit via departmental assessment should contact their Student Success Coach. The requirements for departmental assessment are determined by the academic department chair. To qualify students must demonstrate that they have substantial experience and expertise in the subject area.

Prior Learning Portfolio

The Stevenson University portfolio option provides students with a vehicle for converting into college credit college-level learning that has been achieved through verifiable professional work experiences and other life experiences. It is an option designed to assist the online student in pursuit of a degree. Demonstrating experiential learning through the portfolio benefits the online student by decreasing the number of classroom hours and expense required for degree completion. Through the portfolio, students systematically demonstrate and document college-level learning equal to specific courses within Stevenson's academic disciplines.


StraighterLine provides adult undergraduate students an affordable and convenient path to completing their bachelor’s degrees at Stevenson University Online. Through StraighterLine, students are able to complete their general education courses online. Every course students take within their degree plan is guaranteed to count for credit towards their Stevenson University Online bachelor’s degree. Please note, taking courses with StraighterLine is only available to adult undergraduate students enrolled in Stevenson University Online.

To qualify to petition for prior learning credit through the portfolio, students must meet with Credit for Prior Learning Advisor and be in good academic standing. Undergraduate students must have a cumulative GPA 2.00 on a four-point scale in coursework at Stevenson University. Graduate students must have a GPA of 3.00 on a four-point scale in coursework at Stevenson University.

Up to 30 college credits may be petitioned through the credit for the prior learning option for the bachelor's degree-seeking student, six for the master's degree seeking student. Not all graduate programs permit credit for prior learning. Completed portfolios are reviewed by faculty evaluators who determine a grade of "P" (Pass) or "NC" (No Credits Awarded). Credits are awarded only if students successfully demonstrate that their documented experiential learning meets the requirements of the course petitioned. Awarded credits are posted on the student's transcript and are counted toward degree completion requirements.

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