Credit for Prior Learning
Granting course and units through Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is based on the principle that previous experience, training, or instruction is the equivalent of a specific course taught by the college. Course and unit credit can be obtained through the credit for External Examinations process (AP/IB/CLEP), Internal Departmental Examinations process, High School to College Articulation process, Evaluation of Joint Services Transcripts (JST), Student-Created Portfolios, Industry-Recognized Documentation, and Credentials or Licensure.
Courses Eligible for Credit for Prior Learning
Academic divisions of the District Colleges determine the courses for which Credit for Prior Learning may be granted. VCCCD students may receive college credit through the Credit for Prior Learning process of identified courses listed in the current college catalog by completing the Credit for Prior Learning Petition and following the instructions provided for the selected assessment process. Refer to the list of available courses for CPL.
Documentation of Credit for Prior Learning
For credit earned through the Credit for Prior Learning provisions, the student’s academic record shall be clearly annotated to reflect that credit was earned by examination, through articulation, or by another type of assessment of prior learning.
Assessment Methods Available for Credit for Prior Learning
Credit for Prior Learning may be obtained by one or a combination of two of the following assessment methods.
I. External Examinations (AP/IB/CLEP)
This method cannot be combined with another assessment method for granting CPL for any single course.
a. Advanced Placement (AP): Students who earn scores of 3, 4, or 5 on the College Board AP Examinations taken before high school graduation will receive credit for each exam as specified in the college catalog.
b. International Baccalaureate (IB): Students who complete the IB diploma with a score of 30 or above, will receive 20 units of credit. Students who complete the IB Higher Level examinations with scores of 4, 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for each exam as specified in the catalog of the District College. A score of 4 or higher on the IB Mathematics HL exam will satisfy the math competency requirement for the associate degree. Students will not receive credit for Standard Level exams.
c. College Level Examination Program (CLEP): Students who earn scores of 50 or higher on a CLEP exam will receive credit for each exam as specified in the college catalog.
Cut Scores for External Examinations (AP, IB, and CLEP)
The number of units awarded for each type of examination is subject to change based on the establishment of cut scores and/or other evaluative measures developed by District College faculty in collaboration with Academic Senates and/or a CSU Chancellor's Office policy pursuant to AB 1985, and/or Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) Standards, Policies, and Procedures, latest version.
Process to Receive Credit for AP/IB/CLEP
Students are required to submit their AP/IB/CLEP scores from the College Board to the Admissions and Records Office.
Information for Credit for External Examinations (AP, IB, and CLEP)
- Each district college will publish an AP, IB, and CLEP chart in its catalog indicating how credit may be applied toward the associate degree, associate degree for transfer, or certificate of achievement, including how many units the examination provides and whether the examination will satisfy comparable major courses, general education, or elective credit.
- For any AP, IB, or CLEP examination that the District does not offer a course similar in content, the college may award elective credit.
- The evaluation of credit for AP, IB, and CLEP examination scores is done by a college counselor. Counselors may require additional documentation or information as necessary to determine eligibility for external credit.
- The Counseling faculty at each District College will determine how the credit is used to satisfy general education and major requirements for the associate degree and/or to meet transfer requirements.
- Credit granted for AP and IB examinations may also be counted toward the satisfaction of IGETC or CSU GE-Breadth areas as allowed by the applicable standards for each form of transfer general education certification. CLEP examinations may also provide credit toward CSU GE-Breadth. Current charts detailing how this credit is applied will be published in the college catalog.
- Credit awarded for AP, IB, and CLEP examinations shall not impact the student’s GPA, nor can the units earned be used toward financial aid or the 12-unit residency requirement.
- Students granted credit for AP, IB, or CLEP examinations shall not earn credit toward an associate degree for duplicated college courses.
- Other colleges or universities may have different policies concerning the granting of credit for AP, IB, and CLEP examinations, and will evaluate the examinations based on their own policies and practices.
II. Internal Departmental Examinations (Credit by Examination)
a. Students will receive credit by satisfactory completion of an examination administered by the District College in lieu of completion of a course listed in the college catalog, provided that internal departmental examination is permitted for the course. Courses Available for credit by examination are listed in the Courses Available for CPL section. Credit will be awarded with a letter grade and/or P/NP (if the latter is ordinarily available for the course). If a letter grade is awarded, it will be incorporated into the computation of the student’s grade point average.
b. The nature and content of the exam shall be determined solely by the District College discipline faculty in accordance with Title 5 Section 55002.
d. Units for which credit is given pursuant to this provision shall be counted toward satisfaction of the 12 semester hours of credit in residency requirement for the associate degree.
Internal Departmental Examinations
Determination of Eligibility
- The student must be currently registered and in good standing and not on academic probation, progress probation, or dismissal at any District College.
- The student has not earned college credit in more advanced subject matter and has not received a grade (A, B, C, D, F, W, CR, P, CRE, NC, or NP or equivalent), in the course for which he or she is seeking Credit by Examination at a District College or at any other educational institution.
- The examination is to be administered prior to the last day of the final examination period.
Process to Receive Credit for Internal Departmental Examination
Students are required to complete the Credit for Prior Learning Petition and follow the instructions provided for the Internal Department Examination (Credit by Exam) assessment process.
III. High School to College Articulation
Students seeking college credit through High School Articulation should meet with the designated college counselor or designee overseeing the high school articulation process at the individual college campus for specific criteria and processes.
Articulated high school courses may be accepted in lieu of comparable District College courses to partially satisfy:
a. Certificate requirements, including the total number of units required for the certificate; or
b. The major or area of emphasis requirements in a degree program. Students who complete articulated comparable courses must pass an exam to earn college credit for general education and/or major requirements for the associate degree.
Process to Receive Credit Via High School Articulation
- Determination of Eligibility
- The course to which the units will apply must be listed in the current college catalog.
- The student must be currently registered at a high school with which a District College has an articulation agreement and in good standing as defined by their cumulative GPA at a minimum of 2.0 at the time the Credit by Examination is granted.
- The student has not earned college credit in more advanced subject matter and has not received a grade (A, B, C, D, F, W, CR, CRE, NC, NP, or equivalent), in the course for which he or she is seeking Credit by Examination at a District college or at any other educational institution.
2. Receiving Credit by Examination
- The student applies online to one of the colleges in the VCCCD and creates an account in a District tracking system.
- The student passes the college's course via a comprehensive exam or evaluation determined solely by a District College faculty in the discipline.
3. Units and Grades Recorded
- The student who successfully passes the examination will be given a letter grade (“A,” “B,” or “C”) and "Credit by Examination" will be transcripted for the term in which it was earned.
- The student who is unsuccessful in obtaining a standard grade of “C” or better will not be allowed to petition for credit and no record of the attempt for credit by examination will appear on the student's transcript.
IV. Credit for Military Service/Training
Students interested in Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) using Joint Service Transcripts (JST) shall receive credit as recommended by the American Council on Education (ACE) Directory and approved by the appropriate discipline faculty of a District College under the following circumstances:
- Students who are seeking college credit beyond the local graduation requirements and CSU GE Breadth Area E are required to complete the Credit for Prior Learning Petition and follow the instructions provided for the Military Service/Training assessment process.
- Students are to request and verify that their official transcripts be on file in the Admissions and Records Office. These may include Joint Services Transcript (JST), Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART), Army and American Council on Education Registry Transcript Service (AARTS), Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), Coast Guard Institute (CGI), DANTES/USAFI, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) Transcripts, Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), DLPT Examinee Results, DA Form 330 Language Proficiency Questionnaire, or verified copies of DD214 or DD295 military records.
- Credit course equivalency shall be determined by the faculty of the appropriate discipline.
Credit for Basic Training
- Students who submit evidence of completion of Basic Military Training on a DD 214 or DD 295, whether they were in active service or in the National Guard or Reserves, will have fulfilled local health education and kinesiology activity graduation requirements and will have satisfied the CSU GE-Breadth area E requirement.
- Students will be awarded units according to current ACE recommendations:
- Army recruits will receive a total of 6 semester units
- Navy recruits will receive a total of 9 semester units
- Marine Corps—Basic Infantry recruits will receive 8 semester units
- Air Force recruits will receive a total of 4 semester units
- Coast Guard recruits will receive a total of 8 semester units
- Health and Kinesiology discipline faculty will determine which specific courses to assign as equivalent for the transcript. Faculty will choose courses that provide credit toward CSU GE-Breadth area E and:
- A minimum of 2 units of HED
- A minimum of 1 unit of PE/Kinesiology
- Discipline faculty will assign either specific course or elective credit for any remaining units to meet the minimum totals recommended by ACE above.
V. Industry-Recognized Credentials or Licensure Documentation
Students interested in Credit for Prior Learning using industry-recognized credential(s) or licensure shall receive credit as determined solely by the faculty of the appropriate discipline:
Process to Receive Credit for Industry-Recognized Credentials or Licensure
Students are required to complete the Credit for Prior Learning Petition and follow the instructions provided for the Industry-Recognized Credential or Licensure assessment process.
VI. Student-Created Portfolio Assessment
Students interested in Credit for Prior Learning using a student-created portfolio shall receive credit as recommended by the appropriate department chair or faculty designee under the following circumstances:
Process to Receive Credit for Student-Created Portfolio
Students are required to complete this Credit for Prior Learning Petition and follow the instructions provided for the Student-Created Portfolio assessment process.
Limits of Credit for Prior Learning
[These apply to all methods, except External Examinations (AP/IB/CLEP) and High School Articulation.]
- Students may apply for Credit for Prior Learning for a given course only once.
- Grading shall be according to the regular grading system approved by the governing board pursuant to Title 5 section 55023, except that students shall be offered a “pass-no pass” option if that option is ordinarily available for the course. Once the Pass/No Pass deadline has passed, the request cannot be withdrawn and the student becomes ineligible to petition to change a grade. Other colleges and universities may restrict the acceptance of courses taken on a Pass/No Pass, especially for the satisfaction of requirements for the major.
- Students should be aware that other colleges and universities may not accept credit for prior learning for transfer purposes, including but not limited to meeting pre-major, major, and/or other requirements.
- Students should be advised that the use of units granted through the credit for prior learning policy towards establishing eligibility for athletics, financial aid, and veterans’ benefits are subject to the rules and regulations of the external agencies involved. (Exceptions to the above may be made when necessary to meet provisions of California state law or the rules and regulations of state agencies governing programs of the California Community Colleges.)
- Credits earned through the Credit for Prior Learning process are not applicable to meeting of such unit load requirements as Selective Service deferment, Veterans, or Social Security benefits.
- Internal Department Examination (Credit by Examination) may be granted in only one course in a sequence of courses within a single discipline, as determined by prerequisites.
- If a student is currently enrolled in a course or has completed the course, he/she will not be eligible to earn credit through Credit for Prior Learning for any prerequisite to that course.
- A student who attempted a course one or more times and did not successfully complete the course is not eligible to apply for CPL for that course or for a comparable course at another district college.
- Credits acquired by credit for prior learning are not counted in determining the 12- semester units of credit in residency required for an associate degree.
- A maximum of 50% of the units required for an associate degree (except the Associate Degree for Transfer and UC Transfer Pathways degree, which have no limit) or Certificate of Achievement may be applied through Credit for Prior Learning. Additional units may be granted upon review and approval by the VPAA or his/her designee. This limitation does not apply to units of credit earned through external examinations (AP/IB/CLEP or High School Articulation)
Documentation of Allowable Credit Awards
Each District College shall maintain records of the courses for which units of credit may be granted through Credit for Prior Learning. These records shall be maintained either in the Office of Academic Affairs or in the Student Services Office.
- A student, upon completion of their educational plan, shall be referred to the college's appropriate authority for the assessment of prior learning if the student is a veteran or an active-duty member of the armed forces, holds industry-recognized credentials or licensure, or requests credit for a course based on their prior learning.
- Colleges shall consider the credit recommendations of the American Council on Education (ACE) pursuant to Education Code section 66025.7
- Students shall be given the opportunity to accept, decline, or appeal the grade assigned by the faculty, and in cases of Credit by Examination, pursuant to Administrative Procedure (AP) 4230 (Grading and Academic Record Symbols) and AP 4231 (Grade Changes).
References: AP 4235 Credit for Prior Learning; last reviewed by the VCCCD Board of Trustees June 2022. AP 4050 Articulation with Baccalaureate Institutions; last reviewed by the VCCCD Board of Trustees June 2022. AP 4051 Articulation with High Schools; last reviewed by the VCCCD Board of Trustees December 2020.