Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Explore this page to learn how Chatham values the experience and learning that you bring to the table, and how we’re willing to award you credit for it.

Chatham recognizes that life learning may provide a knowledge base equivalent to college-level learning outcomes. And we believe that knowledge should be rewarded with an opportunity to work toward a degree faster and at a reduced cost. 

Chatham's Prior Learning Assessment program grants degree-seeking students the ability to be awarded academic credit for prior learning knowledge gained in advance of matriculating at Chatham. Knowledge gained from employment, job training, independent study, open courseware, volunteer and civic duties, military service and travel are just some examples that may prepare a student to earn credit through our Prior Learning Assessment program. 

Benefits of Using the PLA Program 

  • Accelerate Degree Completion: Using PLA can lessen course overloads and potentially allow students to take advanced courses sooner. 
  • Save money: Fees for credits earned through PLA are charged at a significantly reduced rate relative to Chatham University's undergraduate tuition rate and/or graduate per credit rate. Students can use PLA for up to 50% of their program credit requirement. 
  • Satisfy pre-requisites, general education requirements, or elective credits: Prior Learning often develops knowledge that aren't included on a student's transcripts. Using PLA can help students evidence their course-specific knowledge for pre-requisites, general education requirements, or electives that allows them to then focus their time and effort on subsequent program courses. 

Ways to Earn Prior Learning Assessment Credits 

  1. Portfolio Development: Based on course-specific learning outcomes, students assemble a portfolio that consists of a written narrative along with supporting documentation that demonstrates a student's proficiency in the course learning outcomes. 
  2. Credit-by-Exam: A student may earn credit for a course by meeting established guidelines on standardized or challenge exams as approved by program or department per department approval. 

How to Begin the PLA Process 

After you have contacted your admissions representative, please use the Prior Learning Assessment Contract to determine and continue with next steps. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Undergraduate degree-seeking students may earn up to 60 credits through the PLA Program. For example, undergraduate students may earn 50% of their program credits through PLA. The remaining 50% must be completed through courses at Chatham. As many as 6 credits earned through the portfolio development program may count towards Chatham University's residency requirement. 

Graduate degree-seeking students in eligible programs may earn a maximum of 20% of their program requirements through PLA and transfer courses. 

This answer varies based on your major or program requirements, credits transferred or recognized from other institutions and other PLA credits (e.g., CLEP exams, Challenge exams) that you have applied towards your requirements. PLA credit may not be granted for PED courses (Physical Education) or SDE (Student Development) courses. 

Fees for credits earned through PLA are charged at a significantly reduced rate relative to Chatham University's per-credit tuition rates. Undergraduate: For the portfolio review option, the PLA rate is $83 per credit assessed* ($249 per 3-credit course). For the credit by exam option, fees for CLEP and DSST exams are $85 per exam plus an administration fee of approximately $20. 

Military Service members may be eligible for free exams. Eligibility information can be found at the DANTES site here

Graduate: For the Prior Learning Assessment the charge is 20% of the per credit tuition rate. For the credit by exam the charge is 10% of the per credit tuition rate. 

Both options represent significant cost savings for your education, with fees sometimes less than the cost of books and materials for a typical course. 

*The PLA fee per credit assessed is not eligible for federal or state financial aid; however, as a Gateway student, a no interest, no application fee payment plan is available.