Prior Learning Assessment

Students may meet up to 30 credits of degree program requirements with credits earned through Prior Learning Assessment and/or credits transferred from another accredited college or university. For more information on the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process, contact the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Coordinator at x2445. There are three PLA Options:


Credit by Examination

College Level Examination Program and Advanced Placement Program

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Advanced Placement (AP) program offer students an opportunity to receive college credit for subject matter learned through means other than formal college work. The CLEP Subject Matter, CLEP General, and AP Examinations are applicable for credit. Students may obtain information regarding CLEP and AP examinations through the PLA Coordinator.  Official AP and CLEP score reports must be sent to the Office of Admission in order to be evaluated for credit.

Credit by department/program examination

A student may receive credit for some BCC courses by passing a comprehensive examination prepared by the department or program in which the course is being offered. Any student who has been formally accepted into a degree program at Bristol Community College and has completed the course prerequisites or received permission from the program director/department chairperson may take the examinations. Students must request these exams if they want to take them.

Credit granted for comprehensive examinations will not have a letter grade assigned. The credit earned cannot be used to raise grades or remove failures in courses already taken.

Students must meet department criteria in the taking of these exams. They are responsible to discuss these criteria and make arrangements for credit by examination with the PLA Coordinator. Additional information concerning the complete credit by examination policy and fees can be obtained by contacting the Enrollment Services office or the PLA Coordinator at x2445.

The AP program periodically conducts college score comparability studies in all AP subjects. These studies compare the performance of AP students with that of college students in the courses for which successful AP students will receive credit. In general, the AP composite score cut points are set so that the lowest composite score for an AP score of 5 is equivalent to the average score for college students earning scores of A. Similarly, the lowest composite scores for AP scores of 4, 3, and 2 are equivalent to the average scores for students with college scores of “B,” “C, “and “D,” respectively.

Students who earn AP Exam scores of 3 or above are generally considered to be qualified to receive college credit and/or placement into advanced courses due to the fact that their AP Exam scores are equivalent to a college course score of “middle C “ or above.


Credit by Credential

Students may earn equivalent course credit for prior learning, including instruction sponsored by the military, business and industry, public and private agencies, associations and educational institutions, and licensure preparation by regulatory agencies and associations.

National Guides

Credit for noncollegiate courses and educational experiences in the armed services may be awarded according to the recommendations in the National Guide to Credit Recommendations for Non-collegiate Courses, the Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services, the Directory of the National Program of Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction (PONSI), and the National Guide to Educational Credit for Training Programs of the American Council on Education. A student who submits official documentation attesting to the completion of a course(s) listed in one of these publications will be awarded appropriate elective credit by the dean of admissions or the Registrar. If the credit award involves course equivalent credit, approval of the appropriate divisional dean and department chair is required.

BCC students may earn course credit for Credit by Credential programs listed in the PLA Manual, available in the Enrollment Center, all division offices, and in the main office at the New Bedford Campus and the Attleboro Campus. Equivalent course credit(s) may be granted for Credit by Credential programs in fields such as computer technology and programming, manufacturing methods and processes, electronics, public speaking, income tax preparation, healthcare, management, fire fighting, and environmental technology. Contact the PLA Coordinator at x2445 for information.

The Police Career Incentive Pay Program (PCIPP), an Amendment to section 18L of chapter 41 of the Massachusetts General Laws, delegated to the Board of Higher Education (BHE) the authority to establish guidelines for programs pursued for police career incentive pay increases.

The BHE has subsequently adopted new standards which DO NOT allow for:

  • Academic credit to be granted for life experience or military, police academy, or other training
  • Academic credit for knowledge-based testing (CLEP, DANTES, etc.) to exceed 6 credit hours


  • CVTE

Credit by Portfolio

In order to obtain an award of Credit by Portfolio, students present a written portfolio documenting college-level competencies acquired through educational, vocational, or personal learning experiences.

The PLA Coordinator initially evaluates the portfolio to determine comparability to required or elective courses in the student’s program of study. All credit is evaluated on a course-by-course basis and must be approved by the department chair/program director in consultation with the dean of the appropriate division and the associate vice president of Academic Affairs. Contact the PLA Coordinator  at x2445 for information.

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