Original Issuance Date:  August 18, 2021 

Last Revision Date:  August 18, 2021 

1. Policy Purpose  

This policy provides a general structure under which a UW institution should administer and deliver prior learning assessment (PLA) opportunities to students, and thereby support the transfer of credit awarded for prior learning within the UW System.  

2. Responsible System Officer 

Associate Vice President of Academic Programs & Faculty Advancement 

3. Scope 

This policy applies to undergraduate and graduate programs and curricula offered at any UW System institution. 

4. Background 

This policy was established to elaborate on Section 6.D of UW System Policy 135, UW System Undergraduate Transfer Policy and developed from advances in prior learning assessment practices established across the UW System.  

5. Definitions 

Prior learning assessment (PLA): PLA is the practice of recognizing, evaluating, and awarding credit for university-level learning acquired outside the confines of university-sponsored credit instruction.  

6. Policy Statement 

As with the assessment of classroom learning, the objective of PLA is to identify student competency related to a specific set of learning outcomes. Most commonly associated with adult learning experiences, PLA provides a powerful entrée into higher education for returning adult students and an academically rigorous set of practices for higher education institutions to follow in determining when credit has been earned. PLA can be leveraged as an educational practice to support adult learner success and completion and can reduce time and cost to degree. 

Each UW institution will determine which programs will implement a PLA process.  

Each UW institution should provide students opportunities to demonstrate their competence through the use of internally developed and administered PLA.  

All credits awarded by a UW institution for prior learning assessment administered by the university must be clearly indicated on the student transcript. 

Credit for prior learning that is internally reviewed, assessed, and transcribed as a course equivalent by one UW institution will be evaluated for transfer credit by all UW institutions in accordance with the Transfer Credit Principles. 

See UW System Policy 135, UW System Undergraduate Transfer Policy for additional award of credit options including International Baccalaureate, Military Credit, CLEP, and Advanced Placement. 

See UW System Administrative Procedure 138.A, Award of Credit by Prior Learning Assessment. 

See UW System Guideline Award of Credit by Prior Learning Assessment. 

7. Related Documents 

Chapter 36.31(4)(am), Wis. Stats. “Except as provided in par. (bm), upon receiving from the federal department of defense a student’s official joint services transcript or Community College of the Air Force transcript, the institution or college campus in which the student is enrolled shall do the following: (1) Accept all American Council on Education credit recommendations included in the official joint services transcript and award academic credit to the student in accordance with these recommendations. (2) Accept all credits included in the Community College of the Air Force transcript and award academic credit to the student accordingly.” 

Chapter 36.31(4)(bm), Wis. Stats. “An institution or college campus may not award academic credit to a student under par. (am) for each course for which the student, upon consultation with the institution’s or college campus’s staff, objects to the awarding of credit for that course.” 

Regent Policy Document 7.1, Transfer and Award of Credit for Extra-Institutional Learning 

UW System Administrative Policy 135, UW System Undergraduate Transfer Policy  

UW System Administrative Procedure 138.A, Award of Credit by Prior Learning Assessment 

UW System Guideline Award of Credit by Prior Learning Assessment 

8. Policy History 

First Approved: August 18, 2021 

9. Scheduled Review 

August 2026