Assessment of Prior Learning Handbook

Prior Learning

  • College-level learning can occur outside of the classroom. Ferris State University’s Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) program may allow students to earn college credit for learning acquired on the job, in the military, in the community, or through independent study. Many courses have been evaluated to determine if and how a student may be awarded credit for prior learning. Students may take a proficiency examination or develop a portfolio to earn APL credit.

    Assessment of Prior Learning grants credits based on learning gained through experience, not the experience itself.

    Ferris uses two types of prior learning assessment: proficiency exams and portfolios.

  • There are a number of criteria that are evaluated when determining if a student’s prior learning meets the requirements for college credit. Applicants must:

    • Communicate effectively when describing their prior learning experiences.
    • Show that prior learning experience was general and applicable to various situations.
    • Demonstrate how prior learning experience was an intentional pursuit of information, perspectives, skills or knowledge.
    • Combine theory and practice (portfolios must contain evidence of relevant knowledge, skills, and theory that were gained through the experience).
    • Submit evaluation and documentation of prior learning.
    • Demonstrate prior learning that is in-depth and goes beyond the average knowledge needed to accomplish a task.
    • Demonstrate that prior learning credit fits in the student’s University program.
  • The timeline for earning credit varies based on the type of prior learning assessment being used. Students taking proficiency exams may be awarded credit within a few weeks. Students submitting portfolios should expect to wait 7 to 10 months before they receive credit.




    The cost to complete the portfolio process is $250 for a one to five credit hour course and $50 for each additional credit hour assessed. A $65 fee is required to begin the portfolio process. This $65 fee is applied to the total cost of portfolio assessment.

    Proficiency Exam

    The cost for a proficiency exam is $25 per credit hour.

    Fee Payment Timeline

    Fees must be paid prior to the assessment, including proficiency exams and/or portfolio review.

    Note: Payment of the assessment of prior learning fees does not guarantee credit will be awarded.

Contact Information

Dr. DeeDee Stakley
Director, Office of Transfer and Secondary School Partnerships
Ferris State University
820 Campus Drive, ASC 1025
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Phone: 231-591-5981
Email: [email protected]

Assessment of Prior Learning Eligibility

Students must be admitted to the University before seeking assessment of prior learning (APC) credit. Students do not need to be enrolled in a degree-seeking program to earn APL credit. Many students use APL to advance their careers, qualify for pay raises, or meet personal goals. APL is offered at all Ferris campuses.

Applying for Prior Learning Credit