Credit for Prior and Alternative Learning

Life gives you experience; St. Kate’s gives you credit.


What is CPAL?

Our Credit for Prior and Alternative Learning (CPAL) program is a pathway to earn S-graded transfer credit for learning that is not already documented as a credited and graded course on a U.S. regionally accredited college/university transcript.

When to Consider CPAL

The CPAL program is a way to earn credit for the following types of learning.


Military and International
  • Military Courses
  • International Courses
  • Military Exams (DSST)
  • International Exams (Cambridge)
College Classroom
  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
  • Non-regionally Accredited College Courses
  • Audited or Non-graded Courses
Individualized Learning
  • Job Experience/Training
  • Volunteer Experiences
  • Hobbies/Interests

How do I begin?

Convert your learning into transferable credit by completing one of the officially recognized Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs) by selecting either an exam or portfolio option. PLA exams exist for a wide variety of subject areas at the undergraduate level and may be used to complete equivalencies, core requirements, and for general elective credits to apply toward graduation. Portfolios may be selected when there is no preexisting exam available for a particular St. Kate’s equivalency.

What assessments are accepted?

Whether you want to convert a prior learning experience to credit or are looking for new learning opportunities available online, you’ll need to document your learning with a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) grade report or transcript.


National Exam Assessments
  • AP: Advanced Placement Exams
  • Cambridge Advanced Level: International College Exams
  • CAPE: Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exam
  • CLEP: College Level Exam Placement
  • DSST: Dantes Subject Standardized Tests
  • IB: International Baccalaureate (High School Exam Program)
  • UExcel: Excelsior College Exams
Portfolio Assessments

Credit Recommendation Services (CRS)

American Council on Education (ACE) Credit recommendations for military courses and exams, Straighterline courses, and ACTFL exams and World Education Services (WES) credit recommendations for international college/university courses are eligible.

  1. Check out the ACE Military Guides to see the number and type of credits recommended for courses. (See the National Exams section for more info on the DSST military exams.)
  2. Order your Joint Services Transcript.
  3. You may also request a preapproval of the training with admissions by providing the transcript or identifying the courses or occupation numbers.
  4. St. Kate’s will complete a review and post in our TES database.
  5. Admissions will notify you of the results.

St. Kate’s has teamed up with StraighterLine, an ACE approved online learning organization. All credits transfer as elective credit. NOTE: To earn credit for StraighterLine courses, matriculated students must receive prior-approval from the corresponding disciplinary St. Kate’s department.

Changes to Equivalencies: Because the changes to the equivalencies were made in mid-summer 2018, courses transferred by individuals who commence(d) a StraighterLine course on or before 9/1/18, will be transferred in accordance with the previously defined equivalencies. Students who commence a StraighterLine course after 9.1.18 are subject to the new equivalencies and the new registration policy.

St Kate’s also administers the ACE approved American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language exams on site. ACE has recommended for credit—and St. Kate’s has reviewed for transfer—five of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages/Oral Proficiency Interview exams. These are offered in over 50 languages.

View the ACTFL info sheet for more information.

Students who have attended colleges or universities outside of the U.S. must submit a World Education Services (WES) evaluation in order to have their courses evaluated for transfer. Courses are transferred based on WES recommendations for credits.

To learn more about World Education Services or to order a transcript, visit the WES website below.

National Exams

If you have prior learning not documented by one of our national credit evaluators, then a national exam may be the right option for you. There’s a wide variety of exams offered in many subject areas that have been pre-approved.

Our PLA Exam Index lists which of the transfer guides below has a pre-approved St. Kate’s course or core requirement option.

The transfer guides below identifies specific exam information including exam title, credits that will be awarded upon transfer, and if the course transfers as an equivalency, core requirement or elective.

High school students may take AP exams to earn both high school and college credit. University credit will only be awarded when the final exam is taken and passed with an acceptable level.

For a list of exams accepted, score required, and credits earned, please see the AP Exam Guide.

In order to receive credit, all students completing an AP exam must provide an AP score report.

For more information, visit the AP Students website.

Similar to the AP program in the United States, these are international exams in subject areas that may be taken while in high school and are eligible for college credit with an acceptable exam score.

For a list of exams accepted, score required, and credits earned, please see the Cambridge Exam Guide.

To order your transcript or for additional information on the offerings, visit the Cambridge International website.

International exams offered in subject areas. Similar to the Cambridge Advanced Level exams. Subjects are identified as units and you can receive certification for a unit of study that can be reviewed for transfer.

To order your CAPE transcript or for additional information on the CAPE offerings visit the CAPE website.

The CLEP exams allow all adults the opportunity to earn credit for either educational or professional experiences by taking and passing subject tests.

For a list of exams accepted, score required, and credits earned, please check the CLEP Exam Guide.

To order your CLEP transcript or for additional information on CLEP exams, visit the Collegeboard website.

The DSST exams offer students the opportunity to earn credit for either educational or professional experiences by taking and passing subject area tests. Upper and lower level exams are available.

We accept ACE recommendations for credits earned.

For a list of exams accepted, score required, and credits earned, please check the DSST Exam Guide.

For transcript information & more, Military personnel may visit the DSST website.

Non-Military students can order a DSST transcript by visiting the DSST website.

The IB program offers high school students the opportunity to earn both high school and college credit by taking and passing subject area tests.

For a list of exams accepted, score required, and credits earned, please check the IB Exam Guide.

To order your IB transcript or for additional information on the IB program, visit the IB website.

UExcel are exams offered through Excelsior College in various subject areas and are open to all students.

For a list of exams accepted, score required, and credits earned, please check the UExcel Exam Guide.

To order your UExcel transcript or for additional information on the UExcel exams, visit the UExcel website.

Portfolios

If you think your prior learning is equivalent to a specific course in your chosen program, but it doesn’t meet the criteria for a credit recommendation service or exam, you could earn credit by developing a written portfolio. (Portfolios may not be used to complete electives in any area).

Your portfolio will formally collect and document your learning, allowing you to reflect on and assess your experiences.

  1. Identify which course at St. Kate’s matches your learning and for which you’d like to earn PLA credit.
  2. Consult with your admission counselor (new students) or contact Academic Advising (current students).
  3. Determine that the course is eligible for completion with PLA and get department/advisor approval.
  4. Determine whether CPAL pathways 1 or 2 are options. If not, the portfolio is the appropriate pathway.
  5. Get the syllabus for your St. Kate’s course.
  6. Enroll in one of two LearningCounts.org portfolio courses (cost, registration and additional information available at LearningCounts.org):
    • CAEL 100 is a three‐credit, six‐week, instructor‐led online course. These three credits will be transferred to St. Catherine University. In the course, you’ll identify areas of learning to be evaluated for college‐level competency.
    • Self‐paced, interactive online workshop that you will have access to for six months. No credit is earned through this workshop. Students then purchase a portfolio upon successful completion of the self-paced course.
  7. Provide the syllabus, create your portfolio, and request an evaluation for the chosen course.
  8. Upon completion of the CAEL100 or any completed portfolios, students may order a transcript through learningcounts.