Assessment Of Prior Learning


What is the Assessment Of Prior Learning Program?

The APL Program provides a series of options through which students may have the learning they have acquired outside of college classes evaluated by faculty to determine whether it is equivalent to college-level learning.

The options include:

External examinations

  • Advanced Placement
  • CLEP
  • DSST
  • International Baccalaureate Examinations

Portfolio assessment

CCBC departmental examinations.

Information about each of these options is provided by clicking on the option on the left side of this page. Students may mix and match these options to suit their particular circumstances or preferences. Specifics of these options will change periodically. It is the student’s responsibility to verify that the current information is correct. Enrollment at CCBC is required to take advantage of this program.

How Is Your Learning Evaluated?

The following is the criteria against which the learning resulting from the student’s experiences is evaluated:

  • the learning should have general applicability outside of the specific situation in which it was acquired; general principles, theories, and techniques must be articulated;
  • the learning should include both a theoretical and practical understanding of the subject area;
  • the learning should be able to be assessed by an expert who can objectively measure and evaluate the learning that has occurred;
  • the learning should be at a college-level as determined by the faculty expert(s);
  • the learning should meet specific course objectives or competencies, and should have some relationship to degree aspirations or educational goals;
  • the knowledge or skill represented as learning should be current with that expected in classroom/employment situations; and
  •  the level of competence should approximate what would normally be considered "C" or better level performance in the classroom, with at least a 70% level of attainment of course objectives.

CCBC will evaluate learning in areas where our faculty have the expertise. Not all courses or discipline areas are available for assessment of prior learning. This has been a deliberate choice on the part of the faculty.

CCBC has adopted a course specific approach to the assessment of prior learning. This approach requires that learning be evaluated against the knowledge, skills, and competencies one would gain by completing a particular course. It is a more specific form of assessment, but it does insure that the credits awarded are comparable to those awarded for successfully completing a particular course.

What Does Assessment of Prior Learning Cost?

The cost varies, based on the option chosen. For more information, click on the options on the left side of this page.

If Students Are Granted Credit, What Will Appear On Their Transcript?

The title of the course, the course number and the number of credit hours are documented on your transcript. A grade code indicates successful completion of the course through the Assessment of Prior Learning program.

How Many Credits May be Awarded by Assessment of Prior Learning?

Fifty percent of any degree or certificate program requirements may be completed by APL. In the case of an Associate Degree, that amounts to approximately thirty credits. Within the thirty credits, a maximum of fifteen credits may be earned based on departmental examinations and portfolio assessments. Students may go beyond these limits by having additional learning evaluated for credit. Some find this aspect beneficial in documenting a wide range of prior learning for career or personal reasons.

The methods through which credit is awarded have been thoroughly reviewed by the faculty. They follow specific evaluation criteria to verify that the learning submitted for evaluation is, in fact, equivalent to the same learning students would acquire in the classroom. The students who have taken advantage of the various options would agree that it in no way represents "giving credits away."

A final note--credit will not be awarded if college credit in a similar course has already been earned. CCBC will not award credit twice for the same knowledge or competencies.

Are APL Credits Transferable to Other Institutions?

Many students raise the question of how acceptable APL credits are to other colleges or to employers. That question has both a simple and a complex answer. The simple answer is that APL credits are as acceptable as classroom instruction, since our evaluation is based on specific course objectives and more and more colleges and employers are recognizing the value of APL programs.

The complex answer has several parts. The transfer of APL credits to other colleges is governed by the receiving institution’s policies. Some schools accept APL credits without question. Others do not accept them at all. Some schools accept only certain types of APL credits, and some will set different guidelines for the same assessment option. Because those policies may change, it is the student’s responsibility to check on the transfer and APL policies of the colleges where course and credits will be transferred.

Acceptability by employers also represents a range of possibilities. Most employers recognize APL credits without hesitation, and many support the concept strongly. Some employers do not. Again, it is the responsibility of the student to verify an employer's policy and practice regarding APL credits. Tuition reimbursement is another area where differences occur, and again, checking with an employer is recommended to determine whether the APL fees will be covered.

How To Get Started

Students should determine if they may qualify for assessment of prior learning by reviewing:

... the course descriptions in the current CCBC catalog at to identify those courses that address areas of learning based on past experiences;

... the option sections at the left side of this page to determine which assessment options might be appropriate.

The next step would be to contact Rob Baker, Coordinator of Prior Learning Assessment,


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