Identifying, Planning & Submitting Your Experience

RWU | UC has streamlined the process for any student to have their experiences assessed for credit towards a certificate or degree.

Working in the libraryIdentify College Level Prior Learning

Before you can submit your prior learning to be assessed for college credit you need to be able to identify college level learning. You may want to begin by reviewing your resume and making a list of the following:

  • Positions that you've held (full-time and part-time)
  • Any independent studies you've undertaken. Include any area that you've read a lot about.
  • List all trading programs or in-service workshops you've completed for any of your positions.
  • List all volunteer work you've taken part in
  • What community Service you have been involved in, including religious activities
  • Any military service completed
  • Organizational memberships
  • Cultural and artistic interests
  • Recreational pastimes and hobbies
  • Travel and cultural experiences
  • Leadership, mentoring experience
  • Public speaking, presentation experience

After this is completed you should have a good starting point to begin thinking about prior learning assessment. You may want to check our reviewed programs and certifications to see if something matches or is similar to your experience. You may also want to consider the general knowledge of the accumulated throughout your life. For example if you conduct meetings regularly present in front of staff or speak to groups of people, you may have a college level knowledge in subjects related to communication. Being able to articulate your generalized knowledge will assist you in the prior learning and portfolio process. Our PLA Portal on Bridges will tell you more about the portfolio process.

Working with computersCredit Determination

Once you submit your Prior Learning Credit Request for either recognized accepted credit from our lists, or a New Assessment Request, you will receive notification of your request's status within 14 working days. You will receive of one of four determinations:

  • Approved with credit recommendation
  • Request for additional materials. 
  • Recommendation to prepare portfolio
  • Denial of Credit

Special Considerations 

Prior Learning Assessment in general

  • Does not meet requirements for residency credit
  • Will not satisfyCredit load requirements for veterans benefits funding
  • Is usually not excepted with third party financial assistance programs 
  • Will not be awarded for courses that are prerequisite for courses already completed
  • May not transfer to other institutions

The PLA Process

Below you will find a breakdown of each type of experience RWU | UC accepts for ore authorized credit or for credit assessment. If you have questions, please reach out to the Director of Prior Learning, at UCPLA@rwu.edu

Experience Listed On RWU | UC Reviewed & Approved ListApproved Credit Process

If you've found your experience on our Reviewed and Approved Lists, all you need to do is provide the evidence of successful completion along with some biographical information. The type of evidence necessary to qualify for the credit depends on the experience you have. Choose which experience you have below and you'll find examples of evidence accepted for the credit determination.

Submit Experience

Coming Directly From High School?

Many collegiate instruction and training programs, including high school technical programs and CWPD noncredit continuing education credits, have been evaluated by RWU | UC. The agreements with these organizations specify the conditions under which equivalent credit may be pursued for RWU | UC credit.

If you find your training program listed here, and have questions about how the courses get worked into your program of study let us know!

Contact Us

If you have a license or certificate, proceed via the Approved Prior Learning Credit Request for documentation. Upload your license or certificate under "documentation." The license or certificate will remain part of your official RWU | UC file.

Common Documentation

  • Letters of verification from employers or others who have first-hand knowledge of your abilities
  • Descriptions and requirements for licenses and/or certificates
  • Documents and Certificates
  • Links to Websites
  • Proof of membership in professional/trade organizations
  • Certificates of attendance
  • Notes taken in training courses

Student Example 1

Ruth went through training and then voluntarily sat and passed the exam for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Certificate through one of the recognized accredited agencies. Ruth found that the RMA certificate is recognized as reviewed and approved by RWU | UC by she finding it on our list. Ruth couldn't find her original certificate, so she reached out to the accrediting body to get a copy. The accrediting body send her the certificate by mail.

The certificate clearly notes her name, the date the certificate was granted, the granting agency, and the name of the credential. She took a picture of the certificate and launched the Approved Prior Learning Credit Request, checking the box indicating that the program is reviewed.  She filled in the name/type of certificate and completed the rest of the biographical information, and then uploaded the certificate.

The credit is granted.

Ruth did the right thing even though she had to wait for the certificate via mail, and sent us a picture of the certificate.

Student Example 2

Matt took his training to be a licensed pilot. Matt then took the license exam multiple times, passing it on his third attempt. Matt's copy of his letter stating that he passed the exam had a huge coffee stain on it, and some of the information was not able to be read. His license had not yet arrived in the mail. Matt uploaded the letter anyway anyway as part of his credit request for a license, and provided a telephone number for the test center where he took the third exam for verification.

This request for credit is denied.

Matt should have waited for the actual license, the letter would not have been enough. The letter stated he passed an exam, whereas the license would show that he held the license. Furthermore, if a letter had been acceptable, the request would have been denied due to lack of documentation (in this case unreadable evidence due to the coffee stain).

Important Note

The student who requests documented learning - those credentials and trainings on our approval lists-    must provide the verifiable evidence to be approved.  Even with a phone number, it is not the policy of RWU | UC to do the leg work  on a already documented Prior Learning Credit Request.

If you have a listed workshop or training, you need to upload the official training materials and provide a letter of attendance. Transcripts are also acceptable. Documentation is uploaded during the Approved  Prior Learning Credit Request competed online. The file would be uploaded under documentation. Your documentation will remain part of your official RWU | UC file.

Common Documentation

  • Documents and Certificates
  • Links to Websites
  • Certificates of attendance
  • Notes taken in training courses

Student Example 1

Amber worked as an office manager for a large printing company. Three years ago, as part of her job, the company sent her for training on Intervention Strategies as part of the NE. Regional Support Ctr. She found this experience on the list of approved credentials and training at RWU |UC. She's moved a couple times since then, and didn't find her training materials. She asked her employer to write a letter documenting she was sent to the training but the letter did not mention when and where the course took place or list the correct course name.

She filled out the prior learning credit request form, noting this is a previously accepted credential/training and uploaded the letter from her employer

Her request for credit is not granted.

She did not provide evidence that she had completed the training. 

Student Example 2

Joe worked for State Farm Insurance for years. As part of his employment, he was expected to complete various FEMA courses. Joe found that many of these FEMA courses are on our excepted credit list. Joe decided to return to school several years after his FEMA training. He thought that FEMA may have provided some sort of certificate for his courses, but he did not have them available.

Before Joe completes on a higher learning credit request, he should contact FEMA or the state agency who administered the exams for his records. Once he receives the records, he should complete the request and upload the documentation.  

Student Example 3

Kin is a firefighter. Kin was excited to begin working on a degree in Public Administration. Kin was told, and confirmed the information from the lists of approved credit, that RWU | UC gives credit for the training to become a firefighter. 

Kin has two options to receive credit. The department should send over transcripts documenting the training. If the department does not use transcripts, a letter from the Chief on letterhead would be acceptable if it states Kin's name, rank, training and years of service.

Important Note

The student who requests documented learning - those credentials and trainings on our approval lists- must provide the verifiable evidence to be approved. 

Non-Credit Courses

We accept several online course providers' non-credit courses as college credit.  Once you find the provider and specific course you successfully completed on our list,  you will need to provide a transcript or certificate of completion from the provider. Sometimes, even if the course was at no cost to you, there will be a fee to receive the transcript or certificate. You can also upload the documentation yourself to the Approved Prior Learning Credit Request. The file would be uploaded under documentation.

Example

For example, Harvard EdX offers free courses, but if you want documentation that you completed the course, a fee is charged. You'll need this verification from any non-credit online course provider.The file would be uploaded under documentation.

Note about Transcripts

These courses are different than courses coming in from transfer.  In the case of these non-credit courses, we don't record grades.  Your certificate of may have a grade on it, but we consider any approved course to be accepted with a certificate of passing. The credits, not the grade appears on your official transcript from RWU | UC.

Continuing education credits (CEU), also called continuing education credits (CEC), are a measure used in continuing education programs that allow people to maintain their license or certification. They can be used as prior learning. 

Note

Each CEU will be noted on the certificate. One CEU equals 10 hours of continuing education. Therefore, it is necessary to complete 10 hours as notated in CEU's to earn one academic credit. It's rare for one training to count for full CEU points. Therefore, we recommend uploading multiple certificates (each noting the CEU's) to allow us to give you the maximum academic credit by combining your training/professional development to make an academic credit recommendation.

When filling out the Prior Learning Credit Request you should note CEU's and then upload them all to the request. It may be easier to combine them into one file to upload. The file would be uploaded under documentation.

The University also accepts credits for review completed by the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) of the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York or by the American Council on Education's CREDIT program.

If you find your credit on one of these lists, you will notate the name of the credential or training, and indicate is NCCRS or ACE on the Approved Prior Learning Credit Request and upload documentation of successful completion.

When you find your job or job title listed as approved, you simply fill out a Approved Prior Learning Credit Request form, note that  this credit is already approved, and provide your biographical information along with an upload from Human Resources or Department Head detailing:

  • Your average hours per week
  • How many weeks per year you worked
  • Contact information including the email, phone number, name, and title of the HR representative or department head

Example:

Robert has been a paraprofessional (Teaching Assistant) for the Providence School District and under the regulations of the Rhode Island Department of Education for five years. Teaching assistants are found on the approved list, and can receive college credit depending upon how long they have been on the job and how many hours they have worked. A letter from the principle of the school noting the relevant details above would qualify Robert for credit, based on the degree plan and how many courses had already been given for transfer and prior learning. 

The letter would be uploaded under documentation.

Experience Not Listed On RWU | UC Reviewed & Approved List

New PLA request ProcessSo, you have experience is not listed.  This may mean we have never had it submitted before and we need to assess it for credit. To have your credit assessed you will need to provide some details about the experience. Choose which experience you have below and you'll find what you'll need to submit for the credit assessment. A credit determination will be made within 14 working days from submission.

    Assess My Credit

    Coming Directly From High School?

    We are happy to review your prior experience in a variety of areas. Contact us to discuss how to assess these opportunities and your specific experience may be assessed for credit.

    Contact Us

    Perhaps you have a license or certificate that is not recognized by RWU | UC and want to earn college credit for it. For this, you will complete a Prior Learning Credit Request. If the request is approved, the documentation submitted with the request will remain part of your official RWU | UC file. It is usual that once a student gets a new request approved, it is then added to the approved lists so other students may make use of it.

    Examples of Documentation

    • Descriptions and requirements for licenses and/or certificates
    • Documents and Certificates
    • Links to Websites
    • Proof of membership in professional/trade organizations

    Student Example 1

    Rhonda went through training and then voluntarily sat for, and passed, the exam for the Insurance License with a recognized accredited provider. 

    She got a copy of her license which clearly notes her name, the date the certificate was granted, the granting agency, and the name of the credential. She took a picture of the certificate and launched the Prior Learning Credit Request, checking the box that the program needs to be reviewed.  She filled in the name/type of certificate and provides relevant background information about what it takes to sit for the exam. She also provided contact information for a subject matter expert or a source for the Director of Prior Learning to reach to begin the assessment. She then completed the rest of the biographical information and uploaded the certificate.

    Student Example 2

    Ana has worked in Public Relations for seven years and applied and was accepted to go through the process of becoming accredited in public Relations (APR). To be approved to go through the process, she had to apply. She needed at least five years’ experience in the full-time practice or teaching of public relations and to have earned either a bachelor’s degree in a communication-specific field (e.g., public relations, journalism, mass communication) or have equivalent work experience. Then she had to go through a panel interview, and pass an exam. She was approved. She also is required to maintain a certain number of points in a 3-year period to maintain her accreditation. These points come from PR activities and continuing education.

    Ana decided to submit a Prior Learning Credit Request to see if this is considered college level learning, and how many college credits it would be worth. Ana checked the box that indicates the program needs to be reviewed. She filled in the name/type of credential and provides information about what the process is for the APR. She also provided contact information for a subject matter expert or a source for the Director of Prior Learning to reach to begin assessment. She then completed the rest of the biographical information and uploaded the certificate.

    Notes:

    It's extremely helpful for the student to provide as much background information as possible to assist the reviewer. 

    Consider that for the RMA Certificate, the student goes through about 900 hours of classroom work and completed practicum hours. Additionally, there are multiple providers for the classroom component but not all are accredited, so it would be helpful for the student to share what they know about their credential. It also helps explain why you are submitting the credential to be assessed for credit.

    Perhaps you have have taken workshops or trainings for a week or more, and want to see if this will count for credit. You'll need to upload the official training materials and details of the dates, times and locations of the training/workshop. Documentation is uploaded during the  Prior Learning Credit Request competed online. If approved, your documentation will remain part of your official RWU | UC file. It is usual that once a student gets a new request approved, it is then added to the approved lists so other students may make use of it.

    Common Documentation

    • Descriptions and outcomes for training & workshops
    • Documents and study materials
    • Links to Websites
    • Proof of membership in professional/trade organizations
    • Certificates of attendance
    • Notes taken in training courses

    Student Example 1

    Lonny used to work in corporate communication and was sent to various conferences concerning how to deal with difficult people.  As Lonny worked in a large company, these trainings were very helpful. One such training dealt with difficulties in the workplace regarding diversity with a focus on intercultural challenges. The training lasted for one week, and there was 30 hours of instruction, with homework and group activities.  Lonny was able to retain the course materials, and notes. The course materials had clearly defined outcomes for each module.

    To see if this experience is college level learning, and, if so, how may credits it would be worth required Lonny to complete the Prior Learning Credit Requestonline, clicking the box noting that this experience needs to be assessed for credit.

    As part of the Prior Learning Credit Request, Lonny would need to upload the materials and notes and provide details regarding when, where, who offered the training, and what was the purpose of the training for assessment.

    Note

    For trainings and workshops it is very important to provide the materials that were used to train  you- including any workbooks or handouts. You should also note how many hours were spent in the classroom and how many hours you spend doing outside work. These are all factors that helps determine both college level learning and a specific credit recommendation.

    Are many opportunities to take online courses not for credit. These courses income from Harvard EdX, Pluralsite, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera etc.  If you have taken a course from one of these vendors, you may want tit to be considered for college level learning.

    You would launch the Prior Learning Credit Request  and note that the type of credit you want assessed is not-credit courses.  You would need to provide the course syllabus or learning outcomes, length of the course, vendor, and examples of work or provide access to the course.

    It is usual that if a student gets a new request approved, it is then added to the approved lists so other students may make use of it.

    To receive credit for life learning or work experience or volunteer/community service, a portfolio review process is undertaken by which prior learning through past work, independent reading and study, training programs or in-service courses, volunteer service or other experiences can be analyzed, documented, and assessed for credit.

    Begin the Process

    To begin the process, students should complete the Portfolio Meeting Request. Submission of this form will trigger a a response from the Director of Prior Learning to set up a phone call, video conference, or meeting to discuss.

    Once you have identified what college-level knowledge and skills you possess, you can start thinking about the subject or content areas you think are related. Once you have that narrowed down, you are ready to identify a course. In your initial meeting with the Director of Prior Learning, you will identify subjects and/or courses that may match your college-level knowledge. Once the course is determined, course outcomes will be identified and you can begin planning the portfolio.

    The Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio option saves money and time, and allows students to learn what they need to. Students may not duplicate another course already applied to their degree programs as prior learning.

    Common Evidence

    • Samples of your work
    • Documentation of job skills
    • Letters of verification from employers or others who have first-hand knowledge of your abilities
    • Descriptions and requirements for licenses and/or certificates
    • Scanned documents and certificates
    • Video clips and streaming video
    • Audio recordings
    • Web site links
    • Certificates of attendance and notes taken in training courses
    • Transcripts
    • Proof of membership in professional or trade organizations

    Portfolio Option For Experiences Unique to Student

    portfolio ProcessSometimes, we will find that the experience you have can't count on its own for college credit. This is where RWU | UC is unique.  As part of the Portfolio Process, your advisor and the Director of Prior Learning work with you to determine how your experiences may connect organically to satisfy the outcomes of a college course. You may be surprised at how your experiences can link together. From life learning to a workplace training, we can assist you in determining how to best fit your experience together to potentially earn college credit at RWU. We have even created a Portfolio Project Work Site to make it easy for you to to plan, collect and write your portfolio.  Learn more about the steps for the Portfolio Process below.

     

     The Portfolio Planning Site on Bridges is set up for you to get more help, work with an advisor and chat with other students going through this process. To begin the process for a portfolio review, you should submit a Portfolio Meeting Request. Once you have had an initial meeting (Step one) you will be given access to this site. You will need your Bridges credentials to log on. This site will allow you to upload files and get things organized before ultimately uploading your New Portfolio Request for credit. 

    Submit Inquiry                      Portfolio Project Work Site

    What is a Portfolio?

    A portfolio, in terms of prior learning, is an extensive written presentation of evidence assembled by a student and reviewed by a faculty member under the direction of the Academic Dean. The award of prior learning portfolio credit is dependent on the student’s degree program and the amount of credits earned previously through prior learning or transfer credit. The portfolio includes a resume, a personal narrative summary, and a narrative that demonstrates and verifies your knowledge of the course material. You will need to explain and document your proficiency in each published course objective. Examples of the types of documentation that you may submit include: work samples to demonstrate competencies and reference letters from those who have observed you demonstrating the competencies.

    Transferability

    Any credit that is assessed by RWU | UC from a Prior Learning Credit Request from a Portfolio may not be transferable. You should work directly with your transfer school and follow their process to request consideration of your portfolio for credit.

    Assessment of Experience

    Your portfolio will be reviewed by the Prior Learning Director and routed to the appropriate subject matter expert for evaluation. The subject matter experts who will evaluate your portfolio will be an RWU faculty member or outside consultant.

    Transcripts

    Equivalent credit will be awarded for a portfolio that demonstrates a passing grade of at least "C" work. No letter grade is awarded. Your official RWU record will indicate this credit came in from prior learning.

    University Student Conduct Rules

    The work submitted for portfolio must abide by University rules concerning Academic standards relating  to plagiarism and academic integrity.

    Academic Standards

    Portfolio Process

    To begin the process, students should complete the Meeting Request Form. Once the student submits the PLA Inquiry Form, the PLA Director will reach out to the student via email or phone to set up a face to face meeting.The meeting can be held on campus, off campus, or via video conference, depending on the students’ individual need. You should expect the meeting to last about one hour.

    Meeting Request Form          

     

    Preparing for the initial meeting

    To prepare for the first meeting, begin by reviewing your resume and making a list of the following:

    • Positions that you've held (full-time and part-time)
    • Any independent studies you've undertaken. Include any area that you've read a lot about
    • List all trading programs or in-service workshops you've completed for any of your positions
    • List all volunteer work you've taken part in
    • What community service you have been involved in, including religious activities
    • Any military service completed
    • Organizational memberships
    • Cultural and artistic interests
    • Recreational pastimes and hobbies
    • Travel and cultural experiences
    • Leadership, mentoring experience
    • Public speaking, presentation experience

    Before you can submit your prior learning to be assessed for college credit you need to be able to identify college level learning.These thinking points will provide you an excellent starting point for this initial meeting.

    Meeting Agenda

     Discuss Experiences + Narrow to Specific Disciplines + Consider Courses + Introduce Learning Grid = Access to PLA Portal Work Site

     

    After your first meeting, the Prior Learning Director will send you 1-3 syllabi based on the courses you discussed in the first meeting.  You should evaluate the course objective/learning outcomes found in the syllabi and determine if you can meet those objectives/outcomes based on your prior learning. Once you determine if you can meet the objectives/goals, you should start identifying and collecting evidence to support that you meet the course objectives.

    Planning & Preparation

    Identify Learning Outcomes + Assess Your Competency + Ask Where and When You Earned Knowledge = Identify Evidence

    The Learning Grid allows you to visually see the flow that should come from your PLA Portfolio Experiences. You should organize your Grid by each learning outcome identified from the syllabus for the class for which you are requesting PLA credit. 

    This grid specifically helps you determine where you learned the material, explaining how that happened and your learning process.  You should then supply evidence or artifacts to support your learning. Each piece of evidence listed in the grid should be labeled and will be uploaded to the New Portfolio Request

    The Portfolio Planning Site on Bridges is set up for you to get more help, work with an advisor and chat with other students going through this process. Once you have had an initial meeting (Step one) you will be given access to this site. You will need your Bridges credentials to log on. This site will allow you to upload files and get things organized before ultimately uploading your New Portfolio Request for credit.

    Example of learning activities and evidence for proficiency in a course outcome:

    Example SubjectCourse ObjectiveLearning ActivitiesEvidence 
    CommunicationsAnalyze communication situations and formulate effective problem solving solutionsWorked with my supervisor to create an action plan to improve my communication with co-workers

    Assessment Plan
    Pre- and Post- Review
    Letters of Support

    Public RelationsUnderstand the use of various public relations actions Worked with clients to determine problems and create PR materials Press Releases
    Social Media Posts
    Posters
    Videos
    Environmental StudiesUnderstand and critically examine ecological issues from a local, regional, and global perspective 
    Participated in a variety of community programs to build a more sustainable world 
    Aided with drafting legislation 
    Counseled others on critical ecological needs 
    Letters of support 
    Legislation and letters of support 
    Member of advisory board to the County Commission
    Early Childhood EducationUnderstand and discuss techniques to guide children's social developmentWorked with children 0-5 at Red Wagon Daycare for five years

    Letters of Support
    Specific Activities
    Training/Certificates
    Award

    Portfolio Planing Site

    Once you complete your planning and gather all materials demonstrating how you learned the content, and you can provide evidence of competency for the course learning outcomes, you are ready to begin the portfolio. This process is straightforward, and the software guides you step by step.

    The Portfolio Planning Site on Bridges is set up for you to get more help, work with an advisor and chat with other students going through this process. Once you have had an initial meeting (Step one) you will be given access to this site. You will need your Bridges credentials to log on. This site will allow you to upload files and get things organized before ultimately uploading your New Portfolio Request for credit.

    You will receive communication that your request was received. The assessment for credit can take up to 14 work days. Once a credit determination has been awarded, you will receive a letter from the Director of Prior Learning Assessment for your records notating the decision, credit amount and course information. Within 10 days after the credit determination, the credits will be added to your RWU transcript.