Credit for Prior Learning

What is Credit for Prior Learning?

Students may receive academic credit for prior learning enabling them to begin college work at advanced levels and shorten the time required to obtain degrees, diplomas, or certificates.

Prior learning is experience-based learning attained outside the sponsorship of an accredited postsecondary educational institution (college or university). Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) may be awarded for learning acquired from work and life experiences; community and volunteer extension courses; individual study and reading; civic, community, and volunteer work; military; and participation in informal courses and in-service training sponsored by associations, business, government, and industry. CPL is not awarded for the experience, but for demonstration of equivalent knowledge, skills, or competencies that were a result of the experience.

“College-level credit granted toward the award of a postsecondary degree or certificate for experiential learning that can be demonstrated through various means of assessment to be the equivalent of learning gained through formal collegiate instruction, including an Advanced Placement Program exam, International Baccalaureate Diploma Program exam, a College-Level Examination Program exam and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests.” (School Code ACT 55)

This guide is designed to help student take advantage of the opportunities that Westmoreland County Community College offers to award CPL.

Students should review the Westmoreland website  and current college catalog to see course requirements for specific degree, diploma, or certificate programs, and to determine courses for which they feel they have relevant, equivalent, college-level learning. Interested students should also meet with an academic advisor to discuss the different methods and steps for requesting CPL, and for transfer information. It should not be assumed that credits earned through prior learning will be accepted at another institution.

Credits obtained for prior learning are recorded with a grade of CR and are not used in the computation of grade point average. These credits are not applied to VA benefits, Social Security benefits, or scholastic honors. No more than 50% of a degree program, diploma, or certificate conferred by Westmoreland can be earned through CPL.

Click here to view the Credit for Prior Learning Handbook.


Awarding Credit for Prior Learning

National Standardized Examinations

Enrolled students who can document an acceptable score on an approved standardized exam may receive college credit. Test fees may apply if the examination is taken in our Testing Center but there is no charge for transcripting the credit. Currently approved examination programs include:

  • Advanced Placement (AP) - A program authorized by the College Board that allows a student to study college-level subjects while enrolled in high school and to receive advanced placement and college credit for earning a qualified score on the course-related Advanced Placement Program exam. Credit may be awarded to students who attain a score of three or higher on the College Board Advanced Placement Examination. Students must have official Advanced Placement Examination scores sent directly to the Westmoreland Admissions Office to be considered for credit.
  • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) - A set of standardized tests developed by the College Board for various subjects, and on which a qualifying score can be used to earn college credit.
  • Defense Activity for Nontraditional Educational Support (DANTES/DSST) - A set of subject exams approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) that tests knowledge of both lower-level and upper-level college material. Credit may be awarded to students who take the DANTES exam for skills acquired during military service. Also, military courses may be submitted for review on an individual basis. Credit is normally awarded based upon the recommendations of the ACE.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) – The "International Baccalaureate Diploma Program" is an academically challenging two-year precollege diploma program comprised of three core requirements and six academic subject areas with final examinations that prepare students, 16 to 19 years of age, for higher education and life in a global society.

To request credit, official scores must be sent to the Enrollment Center, 145 Pavilion Lane, Youngwood, PA  15697.

Departmental Examinations

Enrolled students who wish to demonstrate learning that is equivalent to a Westmoreland credit course may request to be examined and have their learning evaluated by a Westmoreland subject matter expert. The examination method may be written, oral, skill demonstration, or a combination of all three at the discretion of the examining discipline. Students may only take departmental exams for the courses listed in the following section. If the student passes the examination, the course will be transcripted in the semester the exam is taken.

Students may demonstrate mastery of Westmoreland courses and obtain credit by taking examinations except for the following:

  • Developmental courses
  • A course previously completed
  • A course which is a prerequisite for a course previously completed
  • A course currently registered for.

Students must complete the Petition for Credit by Examination form to apply. This form is available in the division offices and at the Student Information Center. A fee is charged for each exam. Passing the exam is recorded on the transcript with CR. Failure to pass the exam is not recorded. Departmental exams may be attempted only once per course. A student must earn a “C” or better to be awarded credit by examination.

Click here to view courses approved for department examination.

Portfolio Assessment

Portfolio assessment allows students to present prior learning experiences in portfolio format. Credit course be awarded after portfolio evaluation by subject matter experts who have portfolio training. Check with division dean to verify availability of portfolio assessment for the course.

Policies and Procedures

  1. Credit will be awarded only for those courses directly applicable to the student’s declared program. CPL may be applied toward the courses in programs only for the purposes of satisfying graduation requirements.
  2. A student may use CPL to fulfill all graduation requirements except for mandatory institutional requirements; however, no more than 50% of the degree can be earned through CPL. Depending on the method of awarding credit, the hours may be elective credit only, or may satisfy some particular requirement (e.g. social science), or may be considered equivalent to an existing Westmoreland course.
  3. All work assessed for CPL must meet or exceed “C” level work, as determined by the college.
  4. The student must be enrolled during the semester the credit is awarded.
  5. The maximum prior learning credit applicable toward graduation is 30 credit hours, from any combination of all CPL methods.
  6. If CPL is applied to the degree requirements, transferability and transfer guarantees may be affected. Consult a Westmoreland advisor for details. Students planning to transfer to another college or university should also contact the receiving institution to determine the acceptability of transferred CPL.
  7. Westmoreland decisions to award credit are final.
  8. Prior learning experiences shall be evaluated only if requested by the student.
  9. Cost of prior learning credit is not covered by federal financial aid.

Click here to view courses approved for portfolio assessment.


Career and Technology Center Courses

Students may receive credit for approved occupational courses completed at area career and technology centers. 

Students Occupationally and Academically Ready Credits

Visit the Students Occupationally and Academically Ready (SOAR) page on the Westmoreland website for a list of the approved SOAR and high school articulated credits.

Credit for Certification Based on Published Guides

Enrolled students who can document completion of an approved apprenticeship or industrial/corporate training program, may request credit by certification. Westmoreland awards credit based on published guidelines of the ACE. To request credit by certification, contact the Enrollment Center.

Industry Credentials

Enrolled students who have current industry credentials that are not addressed by the ACE guides may request credit by certification. The student will need to supply documentation of any valid industry certification awarded, and time limits may apply for certain programs of study. Determination of equivalent Westmoreland course credit, if any, will be at the discretion of Westmoreland subject matter experts and the division dean. To request credit, contact the division dean of the course.