School of Continuing and Professional Studies > Academics > Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment

​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​Save money and graduate sooner with a Prior Learning Assessment!

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) recognizes that college-level learning can occur outside of the college classroom. Professional and life experiences are valuable for demonstrating high-level learning. PLA also describes the process by which college credit is awarded for prior experience.​

Student PLA Experience

Earning credit for prior learning has many benefits for students. These students share their experience with creating a PLA Project and the lessons they learned from it.

  • Robert A. (Course match PLA for DCM 302 – Project Management)
  • ​Roxanne W. (Course match PLA for LL 305 – Active Citizens)​

PLA Options

Students have multiple options for PLA:


PLA Projects

DePaul students demonstrate college-level learning through a PLA project. This PLA project typically includes an academic paper in which the student explains how their experience is college-level. This explanation is supported by scholarly sources. When possible students supplement these projects with appropriate, relevant evidence (certifications, work product, etc.) For more information about PLA Projects, follow this link

Topic Guides for select topics are available to help students create PLA Projects.​

Oral PLA

Are you an SCPS student interested in receiving credit for prior learning? Do you have strong presentation skills? Students may be eligible to complete a course match PLA through a formal oral presentation instead of a written PLA Project for the following topics

For more information, contact the Office of Prior Learning Assessment.​​

Pre-approved PLA​​​​​​

Some professional certificates and Language Testing Institute Writing Proficiency Exams (for fluency in languages other than English) have been pre-approved for PLA credit and do not require a full PLA project. For more information about Pre-Approved PLA, follow this link.

Proficiency Exams

SCPS Students who would like to receive PLA credit for Quantitative Reasoning or Critical Thinking must take a proficiency exam. Students in Professional Studies programs may also receive PLA credit for Essay Writing by successfully passing a proficiency exam. ***BAIFA students are no longer eligible to take the proficiency exams. ​​Proficiency exams will end for all students after Spring Quarter 2023​​*** For more information about Proficiency exams, follow this link.

ACE Credit

SCPS recognizes credit from students who have non-military American Council on Education Transcripts. This opens up a range of professional training to a quicker PLA process. For more information contact the OPLA Assistant Director (

CLEP and ACE Military

Acceptance of College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and ACE Military Credit is managed at the university level by the Transfer Articulation Center

SCPS has agreed to adopt the same articulations for CLEP exams as the rest of the university for students in the course-based professional studies degree programs.

Contact OPLA ( with questions and for additional information

Students who would like to use PLA credit to advance their degree progress should consider completing RPL 101. This class helps students construct PLA projects and develop a plan to complete future PLA projects independently. View the current syllabus. There are topic guides to help students develop PLA Projects for certain experiences including

* Faith, Self Community

* Family Life

* Leadership

* LGBTQ+ Communities

* Social Justice

* Professional Communication

Students may also contact the PLA Advisor ( with questions about using PLA in their degree plans and/or for assistance with creating and submitting PLA projects.

OPLA also recommends that students completing course match PLA projects schedule sessions with a writing tutor at the University Center for Writing-based Learning. In particular, OPLA recommends that students ask for help reviewing integration and citation of academic sources. Online appointments are available. For more information, follow this link

Federal Financial Aid (Title IV) can not be used to pay PLA processing fees. However, there is a PLA scholarship that students can apply for in order to cover the PLA processing fee.

You can find out more information about PLA policies (including the amount of PLA Credit you can apply to your degree, the RPL 101 fee waiver, the appeals process) here.