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Credit for Prior Learning

Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) or Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), sometimes called experiential learning, is the knowledge that can be obtained outside a traditional university setting either prior to enrolling or while in college. You can complete standardized tests, challenge courses, or complete a prior learning portfolio. Boise State University does not award credit for experience alone. Credit may be awarded for verifiable learning gained through experience—not for the experience itself.

Timeline of Credits Posting

If you are currently attending Boise State, test credit is entered when it is received by the Registrar’s Office. If you have never attended, test credit is posted after the 10th day of classes of your first semester. If you did not pass the exam, no entry is made on your transcript.


Total Credits for Graduation: you may earn up to one-third (1/3) of your total credits required for graduation through credit for prior learning. No more than one quarter (1/4) may be earned in portfolio credit.

Residency: credits earned through any form of experiential learning will not count toward the graduation residency requirement.

Repeating Graded Courses: credit for prior learning cannot be used to repeat a class that was previously graded.

Examination Scores

The American Council on Education (ACE)

Visit the ACE Webpage

Students who have completed an American Council on Education (ACE) training program can submit course completion certificates or exam scores and receive general elective credit based on the recommendations of ACE’s The National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training.

Credit for ACE programs will be recorded on the Boise State transcript, with a grade of Pass (P), after the 10th day of the student’s first term enrolled at Boise State University. Students may request to obtain specific departmental credit rather than general elective credit by appealing to the appropriate academic department chair. This credit would be approved using an Academic Adjustment form which can be found on Student Forms.

Military Training Credit

You may receive credit for your military training or experiences. Boise State awards credit based on the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations. Information about ACE credit recommendations can be found at: Understanding Your Military Transcript

All enlisted, officers and warrant officers, both active and veterans from all Army components, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy may initiate this process by submitting a Joint Service Transcript to Boise State University Office of the Registrar. Information about your Joint Service Transcript and how to order it can be found at:

Air Force personnel need to contact the Community College of the Air Force to request an official transcript be sent to Boise State University. Credits will be evaluated from that transcript.

Credit for military training will be recorded on the Boise State transcript after the 10th day of your first term of enrollment at Boise State University. These credits are general elective Pass (P) credits only and cannot be used to meet university foundations requirements. They can be used to fulfill major requirements, if approved by the academic department chair and the appropriate dean.

If you have completed two or more years of active military service, you may also request that the Boise State Military Science department evaluate your military service for possible credit toward the ROTC Basic Course. Credit for the ROTC Basic Course is only awarded to those who have committed to pursuing the ROTC Advanced Course.

Credit For Prerequisites Not Taken

Credit for prerequisites not taken only applies to undergraduate students.

Depending on background or experience, you may be allowed to take some courses without first taking a prerequisite course. In some cases, you may also be able to receive credit for the prerequisite course. To take a course without first taking the prerequisite, you must obtain the approval of the head of the appropriate academic department. Complete the form Credit for Prior Learning – Credit for Prerequisites Not Taken and submit it to the Registrar’s Office, Administration Building, Room 110. A $20 per course fee will be charged to apply for credit for prerequisites not taken. Fees charged are the same regardless of whether a student is full-time or part-time. Grading will be done on a Pass/Fail system. Only Pass (P) grades will be transcribed. Grades will be transcribed if/when you complete the advanced course and earn a grade of C- or higher. Academic departments determine which courses can qualify for this credit.

Course Challenge

Course challenges apply to both graduate and undergraduate students.

If you feel your background, education, and experience have given you sufficient knowledge in a subject area, you may challenge certain courses. That is, you may be able to receive credit for the course by passing a challenge exam. Each department selects which courses are available for challenge and may develop screening procedures to determine if you are eligible to take the challenge exam. You may not challenge a course to improve a previous grade earned in that course.

After you have completed 12 semester credits at Boise State University, and you have received permission from the appropriate academic department to register for a challenge exam, you must complete the form Credit for Prior Learning – Challenge and submit it to the Registrar’s Office, Administration Building, Room 110. A $50 per course fee will be charged to take the challenge exam prepared by an academic department. For externally prepared challenge exams, a $20 per course fee is paid to the university. Any Boise State fees for tests are paid directly by the student. Any proctoring/testing center fees are paid by the academic department out of the university fee. Fees charged are the same regardless of whether a student is full-time or part-time. For departmentally prepared exams, the department determines the grading system. Grades may be recorded as either Pass (P) or as a letter grade (A+ through C-). Grades of D+ or lower will not be transcribed. Before you take the exam, the department will tell you what type of grading is available.

Prior Learning Portfolio

Prior learning portfolios only apply to undergraduate students. Credit for prior learning experience is also possible in some departments through development of a formal, professional, written portfolio. The portfolio outlines, in-depth, the knowledge you have gained outside the college classroom and shows the relationship to college-level learning. Assessment of portfolios and credit recommendations are determined by the academic department in which the credit is being requested. To apply for credit through this method, you will be required to pay a $75 per course fee to have your portfolio reviewed. Fees charged are the same regardless of whether a student is full-time or part-time. For further information on this process, contact the Registrar’s Office, Administration Building, Room 110, (208) 426-4249. For further information on specific applications, contact the appropriate academic department.

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