Credit for Prior Learning

Kennebec Valley Community College recognizes the value of college-level knowledge students may have acquired outside the traditional college classroom through past work, independent reading and study, corporate training programs, in-service courses, volunteer services or other experiences. The term “prior learning assessment” refers to all of the processes which the College uses to review and evaluate students’ evidence of prior learning and to award academic credit. The basis for evaluating prior learning is by course equivalency. Learning evidenced by any of the prior learning assessment (PLA) methods is assessed against the learning objectives of individual courses (or discipline area electives), and the credits awarded are applied against those

Student Eligibility:

  • Students must be admitted (matriculated) to one of the College’s degree programs.
  • Students will have a requirement(s) in their academic programs, to which prior learning credits could apply.

Assessment of PLA
The College has several procedures for the assessment of prior learning. Students are encouraged to explore all options available to them. These options can help students articulate what they have learned from experiences outside of the classroom into credit, and to expedite the path to a degree.

Residency Requirement
The award of prior learning credit is subject to the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) accreditation agency standards (revised January 1, 2021). These standards cap PLA credits in certificate programs of 30 or fewer credits to 25%. Credits earned by PLA are not to be included in the residency requirement of 25% of Associate degree credits. All types of prior learning acquired more than ten years from the date of matriculation are subject to review, though not exclusion. Prior to a formal review, faculty and other academic advisors will provide guidance, but not assurances, of the number of credits that may be awarded.

Award of Credit
Credit for prior learning will be awarded based on assessment of documented learning which demonstrates achievement (at a grade level of C or better) of learning outcomes for a specific requirement/discipline area elective, i.e. credit by course equivalency. Students may earn prior learning credit for any graduation requirement at any point in their program for which they demonstrate equivalent learning, unless there is any unique program accreditation requirement restricting this. Fees are set for the review of two types of prior learning, but not for any resulting credit: campus-based Challenge Exams ($100) and Portfolios ($125). Payment of a PLA fee does not guarantee the award of credit, and is non-refundable. KVCC cannot guarantee the transfer out of PLA credits to other colleges/universities, nor the applicability of credits to a student’s future degree requirements.

PLA from Other Colleges
KVCC recognizes PLA credit specifically awarded by other colleges within the Maine Community College System (i.e. credit from credential review, challenge exam, and portfolio) as transfer credit, as applicable to the academic program at the receiving institution. No further burden of proof will be required of students, where PLA credit appears on another MCCS transcript. The same reciprocity as described above is extended to students/transcripts from the University of Maine System.

Methods of Prior Learning that may be assessed for credit:

Transfer Credit to KVCC
Transfer credit may be awarded for course work completed at an accredited institution of higher education. A grade of “C” or better achieved in courses that are comparable to ones offered in the student’s proposed program at KVCC may be transferred. Grades earned in the transferred course(s) are not computed in the grade point average. It is the student’s responsibility to have official transcript(s) forwarded to the Registrar’s Office. Additional documentation may be required.

All courses will be considered active and transferable for no more than ten years. These limitations may be subject to review and may be waived by the Academic Dean upon recommendation by relevant faculty and additional documentation by the student on a case by case basis.

Any course taken at KVCC prior to matriculation into a specific program will transfer into the program as long as the course meets the requirements and grade required for that program. This grade is computed in the cumulative grade point average.

A student must earn a minimum of 25 percent of his/her certificate or degree credits in residence. A specific program may require a greater percentage of credits to be earned in residence. When a decision.

National Exam Credit
KVCC awards credit for national examinations when provided with an official transcript from the testing organization. Decisions on the granting of credit will be based on minimal acceptance scores in each area and the applicability of those areas to program requirements. Credits earned by this method cannot be counted in determining enrollment status nor can they be included in meeting the minimum credit requirements for satisfactory progress for financial aid.

The following list includes the exams and scoring information:

• CLEP (College Level Examination Program) is offered through the College Board. There are 33 exams in five subject areas, covering material taught in courses a student may take in their first year of college. For more information regarding the CLEP exams, visit

• DSST (Dantes Subject Standardized Test)
DSST are credit-by-examination tests originated by the United States Department of Defense, but open to all learners. DSST sponsors a wide range of examination programs to assist service members and others in meeting their educational goals. The DSST program (formerly known as the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) is a series of 38 examinations in college subject areas that are comparable to the final or end-of-course examinations in undergraduate courses.

• AP (Advanced Placement)
AP exams are taken after completing a year-long AP course at a participating high school. For credit consideration, a minimum score of 3 is required. See the AP matrix at the college website for a list of the exams, acceptable scores and KVCC course equivalencies. The AP score(s) should be requested by the student and sent directly to the KVCC Registrar’s Office for review and transcription. For more information, see:

• International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level
Some high schools offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. The IB courses provide the student greater breadth and depth of knowledge in specific subject areas. IB courses have comprehensive exams which are used to measure the student’s achievement and possibility of advance credit. Kennebec Valley Community College offers credit in applicable courses to students who score a “5” or above on these exams.

• Foreign Language Achievement Testing Service (FLATS)
Brigham Young University (BYU) offers a testing service to measure proficiency in many foreign languages. These exams are designed to evaluate a student’s ability in conjunction with the first three semesters of a language track, providing students the opportunity to earn up to 12 credits. Exams are graded pass/fail.

Credential Review
A student may qualify to receive academic credit by presenting proof of a current and valid professional credential designed to assess the student’s knowledge in a field. Credential review is subject to applicability to the student’s program of study. A student must be accepted into a program of study to be eligible for a credential review. Students should present official documentation (current, valid professional certifications or licenses) should be presented to the Registrar’s Office for duplication, review, and transcription. There is no fee for the credential review.

Military Training
Veterans are encouraged to submit their military training transcripts directly to the KVCC Registrar’s Office for evaluation. Assessment of service-connected prior learning is conducted using various nationally recognized resources for determining course equivalency.

Challenge Exam
Selected KVCC courses may be challenged. Challenge exams are not be available for all courses if an appropriate standardized national exam exists (e.g. CLEP, DANTES, ACT, PEP, etc.) this exam will be required. If no such national exam exists, the required exam shall be comparable to the comprehensive final examination taken by all students in the course. Only one challenge exam per course will be approved by the Department Chair and Academic Dean.

The following criteria apply to challenge examinations:
• The student requesting a challenge exam will present a written justification for the subject area to be challenged. The student must contact the Department Chair as to the availability of the exam and the procedure.
• Students intending to challenge courses must complete the application and have written approval of the Department Chair prior to taking the exam. The student may not take a challenge exam for a class in which they are currently enrolled.
• The student must have been accepted in a KVCC program.
• The student may not retake the challenge exam.
• In order to receive credit, the student must score 80 or better on the challenge exam.
• Fee per Challenge Exam attempted is $100
NOTE: Many colleges will not accept a challenged course for transfer.

Portfolio Review
The portfolio, a form of Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), is one option that a student may select to obtain credit for college-level knowledge acquired through past work, independent reading and study, training programs or in-service courses, volunteer service or other experiences. The portfolio is a written presentation plus pieces of evidence, assembled and submitted for assessment of college-level learning equivalent to specific course/ content area elective learning outcomes. Credit may be awarded for learning that has a balance between theory and practical application. Prior to pursuing the Portfolio Review option, students should consider other options available to them, including credit through national and/or department examinations, as well as military or proficiency credits for non-accredited training.

Students may refer to KVCC’s Portfolio Development Handbook, available on the website, for detailed instructions. Students submit a separate portfolio for each course for which they seek to earn credit. The portfolio review fee is $125 per portfolio attempted. Certain components of an original portfolio may be used in multiple submissions.

Although college credit earned through these options may count toward a degree, the credit and grades will not be included in computing the grade point average (GPA). The final decision regarding acceptance of all prior learning credits rests with KVCC.

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