Policy 5.2.9 - Credits for Prior Learning


The College may award Credits for Prior Learning (“CPL”) as designated by law and state regulations for the following prior learning methods:

  1. Apprenticeship
  2. Certification and licensures
  3. Courses listed in high school to community college articulation agreements
  4. Military education and training
  5. Standardized examinations
  6. Challenge exams/Proficiency
  7. Portfolio assessment
  8. Public Safety Training (“PST”) prefix courses

The College may award curriculum CPL when the documentation of prior learning meets or exceeds a demonstration of learning outcomes at the College’s standards for awarding credit for the corresponding curriculum course. The College shall award CPL in a manner consistent with State Board regulations.

To be eligible to receive CPL, students must 1) meet all admission requirements for their program of study; 2) be enrolled in a curriculum program to which the credit will directly apply; and 3) request a prior learning assessment consistent with Procedure 5.2.9.1.

A. Credit Through Apprenticeship*

The College shall award CPL based on statewide articulation as approved by the Curriculum Course Review Committee for related instruction provided by external entities for registered apprenticeship programs. All apprenticeships must be approved and registered with the North Carolina State Apprenticeship Agency through ApprenticeshipNC.

The College, participating employer, and North Carolina Community College System shall cooperatively put together an apprenticeship agreement that will require at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning plus an additional amount of classroom instruction.

Upon successful completion of a registered apprenticeship, the individual will receive work-based learning course credit.

B. Credit Through Certification and Licensures

Students seeking CPL via industry recognized and/or state regulated credentials will complete a request form for a prior learning assessment, attach supporting documentation that substantiates credential attainment, and submit it to the designated college official or office for consideration.

Designated faculty/staff should review the request form and supporting documentation to determine whether the student is eligible to receive academic credit.

Students are responsible for providing evidence of their valid (non-expired) certification(s) which must have been issued within five (5) years prior to their request for articulated credit. Students must be enrolled in the associated program to receive course credit.

C. High School to Community College Articulation Agreement Credits

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction high school courses that are listed in the High School to Community College Articulation Agreement are eligible for Combined Course Library curriculum course credit. Transcripts of high school courses must be submitted to the College.

D. Military Education and Training

Servicemen and veterans may be awarded college credit for service schools they have attended. The service schools must be accredited by a regional accrediting agency. Before applying for credit, contact the service school(s) and ask them to which regional accrediting agency they belong. Contact Student Services for more information.

E. Standardized Examinations

The college may award CPL credit for the following standardized examinations:

  1. College Board Advanced Placement Program (“AP”): College course credit will be granted to students who pass the AP examinations with a score of three, four or five.
  2. Cambridge Assessment International Education: College course credit will be granted to students who score a grade of e/E or better based on the AS and A Level exam(s) taken.
  3. College-Level Examination Program (“CLEP”): College course credit will be granted to students who participate in CLEP Subject Examinations and achieve the minimum passing score as recommended by the American Council on Education.
  4. DANTES Subject Standardized Tests: College course credit will be granted to students who score at or above the credit-granting score recommended by the American Council on Education.
  5. International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme: College course credit will be granted to students who earn a grade of 70% or higher in courses taken from a recognized international institution, validated by a US credentialing agency.

F. Requesting Challenge/Proficiency Examination

CPL may be awarded through examinations created and administered by academic units that offer the course. The examination is constructed to allow the student to demonstrate mastery of the learning outcomes of the course.

If a department offers credit by examination, no eligible student can be refused the opportunity to take the exam for course credit. A student must meet all pre-requisite requirements before they are eligible to take the challenge/proficiency examination for a course.

Students meeting challenge exam eligibility requirements, as provided by the State Board, state and federal law, and this policy, are responsible for submitting a challenge examination request.

As defined in the State Board of Community Colleges Code, developmental courses, supplemental courses, and courses including clinical practice are not eligible for challenge exams/proficiency.

G. Portfolio assessment Process

CPL may be awarded through a portfolio assessment process managed by an academic department of the College. A portfolio is “a formal communication” presented by a student as a request for prior learning credit.

Prior learning assessment by portfolio assessment will follow a course-equivalency credit model. Students demonstrate college-level learning by submitting a portfolio consisting of an organized collection of evidence that demonstrates mastery of the learning outcomes of a specific course offered at the College.

To submit a portfolio for assessment, students must contact the department offering the course and follow the schedule established by the department. Courses eligible for credit by portfolio assessment are determined by the department. All portfolio assessments will be completed by discipline-appropriate faculty trained in assessing portfolios for credit. Departments offering prior learning assessment by portfolio will establish rubrics to guide faculty assessment and scoring.

H. Credit Through Public Safety Training Prefix Courses

Courses in the Combined Course Library with a Public Safety Training (PST) prefix may be used for awarding prior learning credit for industry-recognized public safety training and/or credentials.

Credit shall be considered for public safety training that meets the criteria outlined in the Public Safety Training course descriptions as listed in the Combined Course Library.

Official documentation from the training provider or credentialing entity shall be provided to the College to validate the training.


*ApprenticeshipNC is responsible for implementing equal opportunity standards relating to apprenticeship, and the State Board of Community Colleges has incorporated and adopted federal regulations in Title 29, Part 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations to implement equal opportunity in apprenticeships. Consult with your local attorney if you have questions about federal apprenticeship compliance obligations.


Adopted: January 9, 2022
Legal Reference: N.C.G.S. § 115D-5; 1D SBCCC 800.1; 4A SBCCC 100.1; 4B SBCCC 100.1