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PLA-100 and PLA-200

PLA-100 and PLA-200 are online courses offered by Thomas Edison State University that prepare students to maximize the amount of credit they can earn for what they already know, helping them save both time and money. Prior learning assessment (PLA) refers to several flexible, efficient and inexpensive methods for earning college credits for college-level knowledge you have acquired through experience and knowledge acquired outside the classroom. If you are like most adult students, you are likely to have learned something outside of college—whether through work, the military, hobbies, or some kind of training—that you might be able to apply toward your degree program. In other words, college is not the only place where you could have acquired college-level learning.

PLA-100 Introduction to Prior Learning Assessment (1 credit)
If you are interested in determining how what you already know could be turned into college credit, Introduction to Prior Learning Assessment (PLA-100) is a great place to start. This 1-credit, 4-week course takes you through all the options offered by Thomas Edison State University for earning credit for what you already know: portfolio development, testing, licenses and certificates that have been reviewed for college credit, and more. The course also helps you understand what college-level learning means, and how to explore your own learning and experience to determine whether PLA options would fit your goals. PLA-100 will satisfy General Education credit. Please contact the Center for the Assessment of Learning at to see where this credit fits into your degree program.
PLA-200 (2 credit)
PLA-200, a 2-credit, 8-week course that is intended as a continuation of PLA-100, helps students identify the specific courses for which they can earn PLA credit, and gets them moving on the path to portfolio development. PLA-200 provides structure and support to help you document your experiences and develop a narrative that addresses the learning outcomes that are at the core of every course, leading you to multiple credits. Along the way, your PLA-200 mentor and the Office of Portfolio Assessment will answer your questions, provide you with the learning outcomes for the subjects you want to earn credit for, and guide your progress so that you can maximize the number of credits you can earn through PLA. PLA-200 will satisfy General Education credit. Please contact the Center for the Assessment of Learning at to see where this credit fits into your degree program.

Successful completion of the PLA-100 and PLA-200 could provide you with options for earning a great deal of credit for your college-level prior learning, as long as the credits fit in your degree program. The number of credits you can earn through PLA is limited only by your knowledge: nearly every Thomas Edison State University course can be satisfied via PLA (testing or portfolio). If you already have the knowledge, there is no need to sit through courses that cover the same material. Best of all: the PLA process allows students with college-level knowledge to earn those credits at a much lower cost than taking the courses.

What Is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of documents you put together to show what you already know and can do. Many professionals in business, education, design, and consulting use portfolios in their work. Your PLA portfolio includes a narrative, which is your discussion of your college-level knowledge, similar to a research paper that is supported by theory or concepts. It might also include evidence, such as certificates, letters of recommendation, and samples of work that will support your narrative and verify to the Subject Matter Expert that you have the knowledge and should be awarded credit. Your portfolio should address the learning objectives, or outcomes, of the courses you want to earn credit for and detail your experience acquiring this knowledge. It is read by subject-matter experts (usually Thomas Edison State University mentors), who make sure that what you already know is equivalent to what you would have learned if you had taken the course.

How Will I Know If I Have College-Level Knowledge?

Don’t worry: your PLA-100 and PLA-200 mentors and the PLA Office will show you how. Your mentor will help you review what you already know and determine the level of your knowledge. Working with the Office of Prior Learning Assessment, you’ll also make sure that credit you might earn for your prior learning matches up with the University’s courses, and fits into your degree program.

What Does it Cost?

PLA including credit by exam or portfolio assessment process offers significant savings over other options. The University charges a per-course cost for PLA-100 and PLA-200. The real difference is in the portfolio assessment fees: for those looking to earn up to 12 credits, there is a flat portfolio assessment fee of $389. For each additional 6 credits or part thereof, it’s another $221 assessment fee.

If you take a TECEP® exam to earn credit for what you already know, enrolled (matriculated) and visiting (non-matriculated) students pay only $50 per credit (lower-level; 100-200) or $75 per credit (upper level; 300-400) for each exam.

This chart shows you the difference in cost between the PLA-100/PLA-200 process and the Single-Course, 12-week PLA process based on estimated costs for an enrolled student.

PLA-100/200 Process Costs Compare Single Course Process Costs
$399 per credit attempted
x 2 credits = $798 (for PLA-200)
PLA-200 (2 credits) ---
$389 Cost for 12 credits earned via portfolio (per credit attempted) $178 per credit
x 12 credits = $2,136
$221 Cost for an additional 6 credits
(per credit attempted)
$178 per credit
x 6 credits = $1,068
$1,402 Estimated total cost for 18 credits $3,204
16-20 weeks Average time spent to complete 18 credits via portfolio assessment 36 weeks

To learn more about PLA and to complete the PLA Self-Assessment, go to