Mount St. Joseph University is committed to respond to the need for lifelong learning by providing a full range of educational services adapted to the needs of adult students. As part of this commitment, the Mount recognizes and gives credit for college-level learning, which takes place outside a college or university setting.

Learning acquired through the following kinds of activity may qualify:

  • Structured educational programs in the armed forces, business, or industry recognized by the American Council on Education for college-level credit.
  • Structured education in a non-accredited institution (e.g., business college, art school, professional school, nursing school).
  • Learning acquired through activities such as: non-credit courses, workshops, seminars, self-taught knowledge or skills, career/work experiences, volunteer work, community services, travel, avocation (e.g., art, music, dramatics), leadership roles in associations and organizations,  and personal life experiences.

Learning acquired must meet the criteria for college level learning as defined by the Council for Adult Education & Learning (CAEL) which states that college level learning must:

  • be measurable
  • be at a level of achievement defined by faculty as college equivalent
  • be applicable outside the context in which it was learned
  • have a knowledge base and be reasonably current
  • include both a theoretical and practical understanding of a subject area
  • show some relationship to your degree goals
  • not repeat learning for which credit has already been awarded.

General Policies

  • Any PLA credit received must fit the student's degree requirements.
  • No more than half of the total number of credit hours required for graduation can be awarded through prior learning assessment.
  • Students pursuing a graduate degree must check with the appropriate institution regarding its policies on the transfer of prior learning assessment credit.
  • Duplication of credit is not permitted. A student's prior learning may not duplicate any course credit already received or possible future coursework.
  • Credits earned through PLA neither fulfill nor interrupt the residency requirements.
  • Only matriculated students seeking a degree or pursuing a certificate at Mount St. Joseph University are eligible to apply for a possible award of prior learning assessment credit.
  • Credits cannot be counted toward the 42 semester hours of coursework needed for graduation with honors (See the Honors section of the catalog for information).

PLA Options
Students may use one or a combination of the processes described here to gain prior learning assessment credit. It is important to recognize that PLA credit is granted only in the context of a student's degree program. Students must meet with their advisor and completely understand their degree profile sheet requirements before starting any PLA process. It is also recommended that exploring PLA options start early in the student's academic career.

Credential Evaluation

  • The American Council on Education’s (ACE) National Guide to College Credit is the standard reference work for recognizing learning acquired outside of the college setting. The Mount awards credit for learning based on evaluations and credit recommendations as set forth in the ACE Guide. Students who have completed structured education programs in the armed forces, nursing, business, or industry may present transcripts, certificates, or official credentials to the Prior Learning Assessment Coordinator for review as possible direct award of credit.
  • Credit for veterans presenting official ACE registry transcripts will be granted in accordance with recommendations in the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services. This credit may include up to 9 hours of credit for internships and/or field experience. All credit will be awarded through Prior Learning Assessment.

Validation Process

  • Students who have attended extensive, informal trainings such as hospital-sponsored trainings or a comprehensive series of workshops have the potential for receiving credit via the validation process. Students should contact the PLA coordinator to determine if their particular training fits the necessary criteria. Fees for this type of validation evaluation are $80 for the first credit hour awarded and $20 for each additional hour.
  • Non traditional (adult undergraduate) students who have current work experience related to their degree may also have the potential to earn credit through the validation process. The validation would grant general elective credit, up to 9 credits of co-op credit equivalent to CED 396 or CED 496. Students should contact the PLA coordinator to determine if their particular work experience fits the necessary criteria. Fees for this type of validation evaluation are $80 for the first credit hour awarded and $20 for each additional hour.

Portfolio Process

  • In the portfolio process students must equate their knowledge and learning to specific courses offered by the university. By using the syllabi from university courses to organize one's knowledge, the student develops a portfolio to describe and document prior learning. The portfolio stresses learning outcomes rather than attendance or participation in events. It is prepared under the direction of the University's professional staff and is evaluated by the faculty for award of credit. Fees for portfolio evaluation are $90 per credit hour awarded.

Credit by Examination

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

  • The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a national program offering a variety of standardized tests to earn college credit. CLEP exams are taken pass/fail.
  • CLEP - Additional Information:
    • Traditional students are required to obtain permission from their academic advisors before registering for the exam.
    • All students are limited to one CLEP examination in their final semester at Mount St. Joseph University. The CLEP examination must be completed by the fifth week of a student's final semester in their degree program.
    • CLEP's policy requires that students who fail an exam wait a minimum of six months before repeating the exam.
    • More information on CLEP testing, along with the CLEP tests accepted by the Mount, can be found at www.collegeboard.com/clep or http://www.msj.edu/academics/academic-opportunities/prior-learning-assessment/college-level/.

Departmental Examination

  • On a limited basis departmental exams are prepared and monitored by Mount faculty or consultants designated by the faculty. Exams are given at the discretion of the academic department and may be oral, written, or by performance. Fees are $80 per exam (includes the first credit hour awarded) and $20 for each additional credit hour. Not all departments accept this method as a process for awarding credit for prior learning.