What is Credit for Prior Learning?

Many non-traditional students (adults age 25+) come to Merced College with skills gained through military, workplace, and civic experiences. These students hold industry credentials, are graduates of public service academies, and were trained for military occupations. Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is a strategy to help students get credit for what they already know and can do, saving them time and money on their educational path.

Credit for Prior Learning is college credit awarded for validated college-level skills and knowledge gained outside of a college classroom. Students’ knowledge and skills might be gained through experiences such as:

  • Military training
  • Industry training
  • State/federal government training
  • Apprenticeships, internships, work-based learning, or other industry-based experiential learning
  • Validated volunteer and civic activities (e.g., Peace Corps)

It’s important to note, CPL does not include knowledge and skills already assessed and awarded credit through formal education at regionally accredited in-state and out-of-state institutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Research indicates that students who earn CPL:

  • are roughly twice as likely to complete a degree than those who do not
  • accumulate more credits through coursework at the institution than their counterparts, which translates to increased enrollment for colleges
  • save an average of 6-10 months in time to degree compared to their non-CPL counterparts

Importantly, CPL can help you save time and money on your educational path. Students can now get credit for a course instead of just waiving a prerequisite!

If you hold industry credentials and/orcertifications, were trained for military occupations, have work experience that can be demonstrated through an exam or portfolio review, or are a graduate of a service academy, then you may qualify for CPL!

Each CPL eligible course will have different methods of assessment. These methods include:

  • Military Transcript (Joint Service Transcript)
  • Credit by Exam
  • Portfolio Review
  • Industry Certification/Accreditation or License
  • AP, IB, CLEP

Check out our college catalog (see pages 25-26) for the most up-to-date CPL eligible courses.

For students interested in CPL, contact the Counseling Department at (209) 381-6478 to set up a CPL counseling appointment and complete an Ed Plan.

For faculty interested in learning more about CPL and potential opportunities for students within your discipline, please contact the CPL Coordinator, at cpl@mccd.edu. Also, visit the Merced College CPL Faculty Resource Center on Canvas for additional information and resources.

Counseling & Guidance

Merced Campus

Lesher Student Services Building, 2nd Floor
3600 M Street
Merced, CA 95348
Phone: (209) 381-6478

Los Banos Campus

22240 Highway 152
Los Banos, CA 93635
Phone: (209) 381-6411

For more information on CPL and to create an education plan, which is required to earn credit through prior learning, contact the Counseling Department at (209) 381-6478 to set up a CPL counseling appointment.