Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Portfolio

Learning from experience is an intentional process that includes cyclical phases of doing, reflecting, connecting, and applying your experience. Experience alone is not considered an adequate yardstick for assessment. Credit is not awarded simply for experiences such as being a retail sales clerk, being a construction worker, or attending a professional workshop. However, college-level credit is awarded for learning that has resulted from these experiences. To earn college-level credit, you must analyze each experience to discover the learning associated with it. Use your experiences to uncover what you know.

Portfolio assessment may result in the award of credit for either course equivalent or competency based block credit. Course equivalency prior learning is assessed based on the documented achievement of course-specific learning outcomes. Competency Based prior learning is granted for discipline specific credit not necessarily tied to a specific course(s) or elective credit(s). See the PLA Student Guide and College of Adult & Graduate Studies (CAGS) Catalog for applicable policies and fees.

How do I get started with portfolio development?

  1. Verify that you meet the qualifications
    - Must be seeking an undergraduate degree - Successfully completed ENG1109 and ENG2209 or equivalent courses with a grade of "C-" or better
    - Successfully completed a minimum of 6 credits at Northwestern
  2. See CAGS Catalog for current rates and fees.

  3. Complete and submit a Prior Learning Assessment Evaluation Request Form and Portfolio according to guidelines to the CAGS office.


For further information, contact the CAGS office at 651-628-3400 or at