Earning Credit for Prior Learning by Portfolio Review

Winona State University has established a process through the Adult Entry Program in which students may obtain credit for prior learning that was acquired outside of the traditional institutional setting.

Prior learning may include:

  • work experience (paid or volunteer)
  • in-service training, conferences and workshops
  • self-initiated study
  • participation in community, professional and other organizations
  • avocational, leisure pursuits
This is an opportunity to present a coherent, carefully organized and convincing case that identifies specific learning outcomes which have resulted from your experiences. If you can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the WSU faculty evaluators that what you have learned is substantially equivalent in level and depth of knowledge to what you would acquire in the classroom, the faculty member may recommend the awarding of equivalency credits.

Credit for prior learning can:

  • reduce your time to degree completion
  • eliminate taking courses for which you have already acquired substantial knowledge and skills
  • reduce the cost of your education
You may request evaluation of prior learning through the development of a portfolio. Make an appointment to meet with an Adult Entry Program Advisor in the Outreach & Continuing Education Department. When you meet with the advisor bring along a brief outline of your prior learning experience. In consultation with the Adult Entry Program Advisor, you will need to make a realistic appraisal of your experiences and the appropriateness of the portfolio process for your educational program. If the decision is made to proceed with the process, you, the student, will write and compile the material that you wish to have analyzed for consideration of credit. In addition to preparation of written material, an interview or demonstration of competency may be required.

If you and the Adult Entry Program Advisor have determined it is in your best interest to proceed with the portfolio process, use the Request for Prior Learning Assessment Form(PDF) for each area for which you are requesting credit. All requests for equivalency credit must be completed at least 6 months prior to graduation. There is $50 fee for the assessment of prior learning for each academic area. For example, if you are submitting a portfolio to be reviewed for credits in accounting and another portfolio to be reviewed for credits in management, you would submit $100.00 with your portfolios. In addition, a charge equal to half the resident undergraduate credit hour tuition rate will be assessed for each credit of equivalency coursework granted.

The process of assembling a satisfactory portfolio can be time consuming, and there is no guarantee that credit will be awarded. The decision to recommend equivalency credits rests with the faculty. All prior learning portfolio credits are awarded on a P/NC basis. Most often prior learning portfolio credit will be awarded toward general electives.
  • Using the current Winona State University Undergraduate Catalog, divide your work experience and training into categories that would fit in academic departments at WSU. For example, computer skills would most likely be taught in Computer Science or Management Information Systems, etc. Each academic area will be reviewed separately, so, if you are seeking credit for more than one area, you will need to prepare an individual portfolio for each area.
  • Begin with work experience identifying knowledge, skills and competencies demonstrated by your job functions. Identify job positions, employers and length of time spent working in each category of job responsibilities/requirements.
  • Identify all formal and informal training you have received in each job area excluding training for which you have received formal college credit (either from WSU or by approved transfer credit)
  • Calculate or estimate the amount of time spent in non-credit bearing training for each category or area that you plan to submit for credit evaluation.
  • Include any other resources you have utilized as part of your prior learning experience that would contribute to the knowledge, skills or competencies being used as a basis for your credit evaluation request.
  • Prepare a written narrative of your prior learning that specifically details the learning outcomes you have received as a result. These learning outcomes should match the learning outcomes for the course you are seeking equivalency credit for.
  • Review your portfolio with the Adult Entry Advisor for any suggested changes before formal submission to the academic department(s) for credit.
  • The Adult Entry Advisor will attach a cover letter and request for evaluation sheet to your portfolio and forward it to the academic department(s) for evaluation.
  • The Adult Entry Advisor will inform you of the departmental decision to award or not to award credit and the amount of credit that has been awarded.
  • After the entire portfolio has been evaluated the Adult Entry Advisor will process the approved credits for placement on your academic transcript and initiate a billing request for the approved credits.