Get Academic Credit for Your Life Experience
Students enter college with a variety of different skill sets and experiences, which may count toward college-level credit. Sierra College wants to recognize your knowledge by applying it toward a degree or certificate.
Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is college credit awarded for skills and knowledge you’ve acquired outside of the classroom. Examples of prior learning include:
- Military training
- State/federal government training
- Apprenticeships, internships, certifications, licenses, and other industry training
- Validated volunteer and civic activities (ex. Peace Corps)
- Standardized examinations (ex. AP, CLEP, IB, DSST, DLPT)
- Credit by examination
Use this form to request Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) for portfolio, industry certification, apprenticeship/internship, validated activities, other training, or requesting credit by exam.
The Benefits of CPL
Earning college credit through CPL can help you:
- Save time and money. You can shorten the amount of time to obtain your degree or certificate and, therefore, lower the cost of tuition.
- Accelerate your academic progress. You can take higher level courses sooner while increasing your motivation towards graduation.
- Honor and appreciate the different ways you learn throughout life. Taking the opportunity to validate your knowledge increases self-confidence and self-esteem.
Frequently Asked Questions
You will be required to demonstrate your knowledge to receive credit for eligible courses. Each CPL eligible course will have different methods of assessment.
College credits may be granted for military training and occupational specialties for veterans and active service members. Military transcripts are required.
College credits may be granted for academy training such as Police Academy, Fire Academy, Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Academy. Transcripts may be required.
Workplace Training and Professional Credentials
Knowledge gained through professional experiences may result in college credit.
- State/federal government training
- Industry training, certifications and licenses
- Apprenticeships and internships
Credit by Examination
An exam to demonstrate knowledge can be scheduled with the appropriate course instructor.
Standardized national exams may result in college credit. Official exam scores and transcripts are required.
- Advanced Placement (AP) or AP Credit Guidelines
- College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and/or CLEP Credit Guidelines
- International Baccalaureate (IB) and/or IB Credit Guidelines
- DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST)
- Defense Language Proficiency Tests (DLPT)
High School Articulation
Approved high school courses may result in college credit. Petition and official high school transcript are required.
You might be asked to create a portfolio to document college-level learning gained through workplace, community, self-study and other experiences. The portfolio will be evaluated by the appropriate instructor to determine the awarding of college credit.
Practical Lab Skills Assessment
You might be asked to demonstrate practical competence in laboratory work for certain disciplines like science, engineering, social work and psychology.
There is no cost for CPL assessment through Sierra College. Note: There may be fees with places outside Sierra College who administer or process credentials, transcripts, exam scores, etc.
You are eligible for CPL when you apply to Sierra College.
To request CPL, complete the Credit for Prior Learning Petition and submit it to the relevant Division Office or check with your counselor. You will also need to submit supporting documentation, which may include transcripts and official examination scores.
CPL assesses learning that you have gained through work and life experience. Transfer credit assesses formal learning from recognized post-secondary institutions (colleges, universities, etc).
If your goal is to transfer to a four-year college, we recommend that you meet with a counselor to explore all your options. Every college handles transfer work differently. Any coursework not earned at Sierra College should be reviewed by a counselor. This includes transfer coursework, credit for prior learning, and test scores.
Currently, there is no maximum number of credits a student can receive. Note: CPL does not count towards the 12 degree-applicable units at Sierra College needed for an AA/AS degree.
The CPL process can vary based on type of assessment needed, availability of instructor, any prior approvals, and when in the semester it was requested. Generally, it can take up to one semester.