Online learning allows adults to complete their bachelor’s degree without disrupting their work or home lives. Supportive online learning environments can help to make the path toward earning or finishing a bachelor’s degree even easier, especially those that have generous transfer credit policies or offer college credit for life experience.
college credit for work and life experience
The path to completing a bachelor’s degree for many is complex. 95% of online bachelor’s degree students are returning to school with some college credit on their record. Choosing a university that allows students to maximize previous college credits as well as life and work experience is key to graduating in a timely, financially savvy way.

Some universities award college credit for work experience as well as life experience. In this article, we discuss how to earn college credit for work experience, as well as the types of life experience that may contribute to completing a bachelor’s degree.


Earning College Credit for Work Experience

With 84% of online students earning their bachelor’s degrees while employed1, colleges that give credit for work experience ease students’ financial burden while also reducing the amount of time required to complete a degree.

Every university varies in what work experience it considers eligible for college credit, but most institutions consider documented achievements closely related to the degree being sought. For example, if a student has experience putting together an IT manual for new employees related to navigating a company’s intranet, this may be applicable toward a Bachelor of Science Professional Technology Studies.

Similarly, if a student has experience owning or operating a small business, their intimate understanding of finance and operations would be applicable to a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Studies.

Other examples of eligible work experience might include:

  • Licensure/Certification
  • Training and corporate development
  • Creating company manuals and instructional documents
  • Military experience

Earning College Credit for Life Experience

Colleges that give credit for life experience do so to recognize students for noteworthy accomplishments that may not have received a letter grade or a professional distinction. Like those universities that offer college credit for work experience, those that award college credit for life experience reduce the overall cost and time it takes to earn a degree.

Life experience may not be as obviously applicable toward a degree in the same way work experience can be. Students seeking college credit for life experience often need to go through a more formal application process to obtain these credits, which may include autobiographical writing or letters of recommendation.

Often, this process requires students to enroll in a course specific to reviewing these credits and creating a portfolio. While this course equates to additional tuition dollars, the investment is well worth it because once these credits are approved, it reduces the amount of overall credits a student may need to acquire.

If a student has experience as an active participant in a political or social campaign and is now seeking a Bachelor of Science in Professional Communication Studies, for example, an argument could be made that their ability to organize and communicate to large groups of people is evidence of academic merit. Students hoping to earn college credit for life experience like this can maximize the potential benefit by reaching out to the people they networked with for letters of recommendation when applying for life experience credit.

Other examples of eligible life experience might include:

  • Licensure/Certification
  • Volunteer work
  • Public performance
  • Military experience

Maximize Your Work and Life Experience at Pace

Pace University understands that earning a college degree is an essential step toward personal empowerment and career success—and it’s never too late to achieve this goal. We offer numerous opportunities for students to capitalize on their previous college education and transform their work and life experience into college credit with our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process.

Pace has created a Prior Learning Assessment system designed to allow you to earn credit toward a degree based on knowledge you’ve acquired through work or other non-credit bearing training or classes.

There are two options you can consider for Prior Learning Assessment:

  • Portfolio Assessment
  • Proficiency Exam

Portfolio Assessment

When you create a Prior Learning Portfolio, you submit information about specific past experiences and accomplishments to Pace for academic credit assessment. In certain cases, you may have had learning experiences previously evaluated and assigned credit by a national group (i.e., the military or the American Council on Education). Because this type of assessment is conducted on a course-by-course basis, you will need to create and submit a separate portfolio for each course you wish to by-pass. Portfolios are then evaluated by Pace faculty with expertise in the subject matter. All training or prior learning must be directly related to individual coursework within Pace University.

Proficiency Exam

If you only have one or two courses for which you’d like credit, you might opt to take a Proficiency Exam for individual classes.

These assessments are designed not only to illustrate that you possess sufficient knowledge and skill in a specific area, but also to ensure that you have the foundation necessary for successful completion of the Pace University program.

Pace online degree completion programs are designed to help students reach their desired educational milestones without putting personal or professional obligations on hold. Once accepted, students can meet with an advisor to determine steps for obtaining PLA credit.

Pace offers the following 100% online degree completion programs:


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