Fast-track your degree with prior learning assessments

January 2, 2015

Does this scenario sound familiar?

You need a degree to advance your career, but the time and money it will take sounds daunting. And you’ve already invested several years into your profession, learning useful skills and gaining valuable expertise.

Wouldn’t it be great if your professional knowledge and certifications counted toward your degree, helping you earn it faster and saving you money in the process? Capella University’s Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program allows you to earn credit when you demonstrate relevant, college-level knowledge gained through:

  • Formal and informal work training
  • Continuing education programs
  • Self-instruction
  • Professional certifications
  • Other learning experiences

 “[With PLA], Capella opened the door for me to obtain my bachelor’s degree in a shorter period of time, without going to school for 8 years while working full time. I saved an incredible amount of money and at least 3 years of time. So it was huge. Huge!” Kendra S.

How the PLA process works

To recognize what you’ve already accomplished, Capella offers the following opportunities to earn credit for your certifications and previous learning.

1. Earn credit using recognized certifications. There are a number of industry-standard certifications that have been evaluated by Capella faculty and aligned to specific Capella course competencies. Because you’ve already demonstrated your knowledge by earning your certification, all you need to do is submit the required documentation that verifies that you possess the current professional certification.

Once approved, credit for the associated course is posted toward your degree, saving you money on tuition in the process.

Here are a few examples of certifications that Capella recognizes:

BS, Human Resource Management PHR®, Professional in Human Resources
BS, Information Technology, Project Management PMP®, Project Management Professional
MS, Information Systems and Technology Management   CISM, Certified Information Security Manager
MBA, Accounting CPA, Certified Public Accountant


Keep in mind, this is not an all-inclusive list. There may be more PLA opportunities available for each degree and certification mentioned above. Talk to an enrollment counselor to find out if your certification has been evaluated.

“I was talking to one of my advisors and she told me about PLA. I was really excited because I have a lot of previous experience. I didn’t want to have to retake what I’ve already learned and what I can demonstrate already.” Cathleen C.

2. The petition process. With Capella’s petition process, you can earn credit for certain courses by demonstrating what you already know.

Here’s how it works:

  • Review Capella courses to find those that align with the knowledge you’ve already gained.
  • Gather documentation or other evidence that demonstrates your knowledge and mastery of course competencies.
  • Submit a written summary of your prior learning.

Capella faculty subject matter experts will review the completed petition to determine if credit should be awarded, or they may ask for more information. It’s a small investment of time for a much bigger reward of time and money savings on your degree.

“If you are looking at your curriculum, a course that you might petition should really stand out to you as an area where you are very comfortable, where you feel like your background is very strong. When you have that feeling, it’s an indication that you should find out more about PLA and take advantage of that.” Chad P.

A PLA (Hypothetical) case study

Meet Lawrence. He’s pursuing a BS in Information Technology at Capella. With his MCSE certification, Lawrence earns 12 quarter credits. In addition, Lawrence has significant knowledge from other training and work experience. By completing Capella’s petition process, he demonstrates this knowledge and earns 9 more credits at Capella.

With these 21 credits, Lawrence will save more than $8,247 and up to one year in completing this program.*

Get more details and find out which degree programs are eligible for Prior Learning Assessment credit.

*Savings represent tuition before assessment fees are charged for Prior Learning Assessments (PLA). PLA fees are charged to evaluate and award academic credit for the knowledge you’ve demonstrated.

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Get started on your journey now by connecting with an enrollment counselor. See how Capella may be a good fit for you, and start the application process.