Prior Learning Credit for Students | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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Prior Learning Credit


As an NWACC student, you may be eligible to receive college credit for prior learning from previous training or work experience.

NWACC supports the concept of life-long learning to meet the retraining, upskilling and personal enrichment needs of students. Credit for prior learning provides a means of recognizing alternative educational or experience-based learning that has been attained outside of the traditional college setting.

Credit for prior learning may include learning acquired through employment, military training, advanced high school courses and training sponsored by associations, business, government and industry.

NOTE: Credit for prior learning is not awarded for experience alone; you must also present evidence of college-level learning which entails knowledge, skills and competencies that you have obtained as a result of your prior learning experiences.

NWACC will award credit for prior learning if you have demonstrated learning proficiency through one or more of the following methods:

  • Standardized testing 
  • Credit by examination
  • Credit by certification 
  • Credit for prior learning/experience 


Method Descriptions:

Standardized testing: Accepted test scores will be available in the current college catalog each year.

  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • Defense Activity for Non-traditional Educational Support (DANTES)/DSST
  • GED – College Ready Scores

To claim credits for standardized tests, you will need to submit a copy of the test scores earned on the tests listed above to Student Records.

Credit by examination will only be considered if reasonable proof can be provided indicating that the you have substantial education, training and work experience related to the course for which an exam is requested.

Credit will be granted for scores at or exceeding 80% for existing career and technical education courses in the NWACC curriculum as recommended by the dean of the appropriate academic division and approved by the Chief Academic Officer. There will be one opportunity to test out for credit for any given course.

Steps:

  • Complete an application for credit by examination for a specific NWACC course or courses and provide justification/documentation or prior education, training and experience to the dean of the appropriate academic division. The dean, or designee, will review the request with the applicant and, if acceptable, assign an instructor in the appropriate area to review the application and meet with you. The instructor will make his/her recommendation to the dean who will then make a decision on the request.
  • If the request is approved, the applicant will then pay a non-refundable fee for the test prior to the test being administered.
  • A written exam and/or practical lab exam will be developed by a designated faculty member and approved by the dean of the appropriate area. A copy of the test will be submitted to the dean’s office and maintained on file.
  • Credit by examination will be documented by the instructor. The completed exam and results of lab exercises will be submitted to the dean of the appropriate academic division.
  • The approved credit by examination application will be forwarded to the Registrar when the credit hour requirement is met so that credit can be transcripted. Credit by examination will be transcripted only after you have completed at least twelve (12) semester hours of college-level credit at NWACC.
  • Credit will be transcripted as the NWACC course number, course title, credit hours, and pass credits.
  • Credit by examination will not be used in grade point calculation.

NOTE: In accordance with Higher Learning Commission Policy, “Except for courses articulated through transfer policies or institutional agreements, the institution makes no promises to prospective students regarding the acceptance of credit awarded by examination, credit for prior learning, or credit for transfer until an evaluation has been conducted.”

Credit by certification will be limited to NWACC Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificate programs that have related industry-standard certification or formal apprenticeship training. Credit by certification will only be considered after the you have applied for admission and provided a completed application for credit by certification accompanied by documentation of successfully passing a certified training program.

Credit by certification will be awarded in accordance with American Council on Education recommendations as published in the National Guide to Educational Credit for Testing Programs and/or other recognized accrediting bodies approved by the Chief Academic Officer.

Credit by certification will only be awarded after you have completed 12 college-level credit hours with a grade of "C" or better and have a cumulative GPA of 2.0, in coursework specific to the degree being sought at NWACC and appropriate fees have been paid. The total credit hours granted to any one student through credit by certification toward an AAS degree or certificate is 50% of credits required. Credit by certification will be awarded only when it relates specifically to a program of study at NWACC.

Credit by certification most likely will not transfer to a four-year institution. Transfer of credit by certification to a four-year institution is not guaranteed by NWACC. Credit cannot be awarded toward the completion of an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science Degree.

 Steps:

  • Complete and sign an application for credit by certification and provide supporting documentation to the dean of the appropriate academic division. The application must include a list of the related NWACC career and technical education courses that you wish to be waived by this process and documentation of the industry-approved and nationally recognized certification
  • The dean will assign a faculty member to evaluate the application and provide a written recommendation of credit to the dean for approval.
  • Upon positive recommendation by the faculty member and approval by the dean, the you will pay the credit by certification fee. Each certification may cover one (1) or more NWACC classes.
  • The approved credit by certification application will be forwarded to the Registrar when the credit hour requirement is met so that credit can be transcripted. Credit by certification will be transcripted only after you have completed at least twelve (12) semester hours of college-level credit at NWACC.
  • Credit by certification will be transcripted as the NWACC course number, course title, credit hours, and pass credits. Credit by certification will not be used in grade point calculations.

NOTE: In accordance with Higher Learning Commission Policy, “Except for courses articulated through transfer policies or institutional agreements, the institution makes no promises to prospective students regarding the acceptance of credit awarded by examination, credit for prior learning, or credit for transfer until an evaluation has been conducted.”

Credit for Prior Learning/Experience: NWACC may consider other non-traditional learning experiences, such as internships and learning experiences attained through business or industrial training programs, on a case-by-case basis. 

Steps:

  • Submit a request in writing to the Office of the Chief Academic Officer for a specific NWACC course or courses and provide justification/documentation of prior education, training and experience to the Office of the Chief Academic Officer (CAO). Exceptions may be made for standardized and recognized local and national certifications, to be reviewed and approved by the CAO every two years.
  • After initial screening of the application, the Office of the Chief Academic Officer will forward the information to the dean of the appropriate academic division.
  • The dean, or designee, will review the request and assign an instructor or team in the appropriate area to review the application and supplemental materials and meet with you if deemed necessary. The criteria for granting credit are that all learning objectives from the requested course have been met by you through your prior experience and documented in a format that clearly displays your mastery of the learning objectives. The instructor and/or team will make a recommendation to the dean who will then make a decision on the request.
  • As the applicant, you will pay the credit for prior learning fee based on the number of credit hours awarded.
  • The dean will inform the Records Office of the decision and the hours awarded for credit for prior learning and the degree for which the hours apply.
  • Credit will be transcripted as NWACC credit for prior learning. Credit for prior learning will not be used in grade point calculation.

NOTE: In accordance with Higher Learning Commission Policy, “Except for courses articulated through transfer policies or institutional agreements, the institution makes no promises to prospective students regarding the acceptance of credit awarded by examination, credit for prior learning, or credit for transfer until an evaluation has been conducted.”


Questions?

For more information on prior learning credit and methods, contact the Vice President of Learning’s Office at academicaffairs@nwacc.edu.