St. Cloud State University Policies & Procedures

Credit for Prior Learning Link☍

Create PDF: Credit for Prior Learning

Current Status: Approved

Policy Type: Academic

Department/Division: Academic Affairs

Effective Date: 07/01/2013

Last Updated: 02/15/2023

Applies To: Students, Faculty, Staff

Responsible University Officer: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Policy Owner: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Policy Contact: Registrar


St. Cloud State University (SCSU) understands that university-level competencies may be attained through a variety of educational, military, professional, and/or other life experiences. The University is committed to providing standards for assessment of such competencies to determine if course learning objectives have been achieved.


SCSU will grant undergraduate academic credit for nationally recognized examinations (Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and the Defense Subject Standardized Test (DSST Program) that demonstrate the student has achieved an appropriate level of competence, in accordance with state law.

At the graduate level, graduate credit for prior learning through portfolio assessment or credit by examination is available. Portfolio assessment includes demonstrated graduate level knowledge and skill acquired through experience, professional development, independent study, MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses), badges, or other learning avenues.

Additionally, SCSU will provide academic credit for learning acquired in military service (at levels consistent with American Council on Education (ACE) Guide recommendations) and offer opportunity to receive academic credit for prior learning attained through experience and through examination when specific eligibility criteria are satisfied as outlined in the credit for prior learning procedure. An undergraduate student may earn a maximum of 21 semester hours by assessment of prior learning. A graduate student may earn a maximum of 9 semester hours by assessment of prior learning.


Credit for Prior Experience

In accordance with Minnesota State Board policy 3.35, academic credit may be provided for learning such as that gained through life experiences including employment, volunteer work, or personal experience with a clear relationship to a specific course or courses offered by the university. The content of the prior learning need not be identical to the content of the course, but the student should be prepared to demonstrate that they have met the same learning goals. To receive credit the student must submit a credit for prior learning request form (see supporting documents) and meet the following criteria:

Students who meet the qualifications listed below may apply for assessment of prior learning.

  • The student must have at least a “B” (3.0) average in any transfer credits or university courses taken in the area to be assessed.
  • An undergraduate student must have completed at least one semester and fifteen credits at the university with at least a “C” (2.0) average to be eligible to apply.
  • A graduate student must have graduate level non-degree seeking student status with an official undergraduate transcript on file or be an admitted graduate student with a GPA of 3.00 or higher.
  • A student can be assessed only once for a particular course.
  • A student who has earned at least seventy-five (75) semester credits may not earn credit by assessment of prior learning at the 100 or 200 level. The level of learning must be sufficient to justify awarding of credit at the 300 or 400 level. A student seeking graduate credit must demonstrate learning sufficient to the awarding of 500 or 600 level credits. Graduate credit is only available to requestors with a completed and awarded baccalaureate degree.
  • A student should not be previously or currently enrolled in the course in which assessment for prior learning is requested.

The following procedures will apply to all assessment of prior learning.

  1. The student completes the appropriate credit for prior learning request form (undergraduate/graduate see supporting documents), which includes a brief competence statement from the student as to the basis for believing that the prior learning may be deserving of academic credit.
  2. The student consults with the chair of the academic department most closely related to the area to be assessed. The final authority for determining whether a student may earn credit by assessment of prior learning rests with the chairperson of the department involved.
  3. If the department chair determines the assessment is appropriate, the chair or an appropriate faculty member completes the remainder of the form which will include a departmental plan for how the assessment will be carried out and a suggested faculty assignment. Only approved graduate faculty can be assigned to graduate level assessment of prior learning. The department then submits the completed request form to the office of the dean for comments and for approval of the suggested faculty appointment. If not approved at the departmental or dean’s level, the department or dean returns the request to the student with reasons for the  denial.

Please note:

  • Credit received through assessment of prior learning counts towards residency requirements.
  • Credits are graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Only satisfactory grades are entered on the student’s permanent record.
  • Credit applies to a specific course or courses as recommended by the department. The department, through democratic procedures, is the final authority for determining whether an assessment of prior learning is appropriate for any of its courses.
  • Credit received through assessment of prior learning may be applied to general education, a major or a minor, or to university electives as appropriate.
  • Since the assessment may take some time, the student is urged to plan well in advance of when the credits may be needed for graduation or to meet other requirements. Transcription of the course will occur at the end of the academic term in which the form is submitted. Transcription of the course may not be retroactive.
  • The charge for each credit awarded by assessment of prior learning will be one-third the cost of a semester credit at the level awarded. All charges must be paid before credits are recorded on the SCSU transcript.
  • Credits awarded by assessment of prior learning are not included when determining financial aid eligibility for the term in which they are awarded.

Examinations and Recognized Programs

Credit for learning assessed through completion of a recognized program or examination can be provided using the following criteria: 

Advanced Placement - SCSU is a formal participant in the advanced placement program administered by the College Entrance Examination Board. Credit may be awarded to any degree seeking student who provides evidence of earning a score of three or higher on an advanced placement examination.

International Baccalaureate - The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is an internationally recognized program through which secondary students complete a comprehensive curriculum of rigorous study and demonstrate performance on IB examinations. The examination for the diploma covers six subjects, three or four of which must be at the higher level and others at the subsidiary level. Students may present a full IB diploma or a certificate recognizing specific higher level or subsidiary level test scores.

  • Students who complete an IB diploma with a score of 30 or higher shall be offered 8 semester credits for each of three higher level examinations, plus 2 semester credits for each of the subsidiary or standard exams, for a total of 30 semester credits.
  • Credits shall be transcribed according to the same rules as those used for Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Where a test covers material that is substantially similar to an existing university course, credit for the course shall be awarded. Where a test covers material that is deemed to be college level but is not substantially similar to an existing course, elective credits shall be awarded in appropriate departments.
  • No credit shall be given for subsidiary or standard level exams other than those included as part of the IB diploma as described above, but students may receive credits as above for any higher level exams with a score of 5 or higher.

College Level Examination Program - SCSU awards credit for CLEP examinations in accordance with state law. CLEP examination equivalents and credit awards for SCSU are listed online at the transfer admissions website (see supporting URLs). Students must achieve the minimum recommended score for the exam to receive credit.

Students wishing to take a CLEP exam on campus should contact the University testing center to make arrangements (320-308-5456).

DSST Program - The DSST Credit-by-Exam Program offers subject standardized tests administered by Prometric, formerly administered by DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support), that allow individuals to receive college credits for learning acquired outside the traditional classroom including reading, on-the-job training, or independent study. Additional information is available on the DSST website (see supporting URLs).

Military Credit

SCSU awards credit for learning acquired in military service (and for completion of basic or recruit training) at levels consistent with the ACE Guide recommendations (see supporting URLs).

Graduate Portfolio Assessment

A portfolio containing artifacts exemplifying graduate level writing, identifying knowledge and skills acquired through experience, professional development, independent study, MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses), badges, or other learning avenues and providing evidence to support a request for credit.

Graduate Credit by Examination

Assessment by a graduate faculty member in the discipline. Examination may be oral, such as a demonstration of fluency in identified subject matter in a global language or written, such as the ability to pass the written examinations in a graduate level course.

Additional Information

All official transcripts and/or score reports should be submitted to: the Office of Records and Registration, AS 118, 720 4th Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498. 

Additional information may be obtained from the Office of Records and Registration (320-308-2111) or from the Veterans Resource Center (320-308-2185).


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Supporting Documents (Forms, Instructions)

Feb 15 2023 11:49AM
Feb 15 2023 11:49AM

Related St. Cloud State University Policies

Supporting URLs

Websites, Related External Documents, Statutes



Any individual employed by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, its colleges and universities and the system office, including but not limited to all faculty, staff, administrators, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, residence directors and student employees.


All Persons or group of persons who:

  1. Are enrolled in one or more courses, either credit or non-credit, through a college or university; or
  2. Withdraw, transfer, or graduate after an alleged violation of the code of student conduct; or
  3. Are not officially enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing relationship with the college or university; or
  4. Have been notified of their acceptance for admission or have initiated the process of application for admission or financial aid; or
  5. Are not college or university employees and are not enrolled in the institution but live in a college or university owned or controlled residence hall.


Responsible University Officer
   Zink, Abbey L.
   Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs
   Zink, Abbey L.
   Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs
   Meendering, Timothy J.

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