Did you know that you can earn up to 25% of the credits required for your degree based on your past education and work experiences? With a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) you can get college credit for what you already know. Your work experience, experiential learning, military service, volunteer work, and other types of training and education can all help you save money and time on your way to a college degree.


How It Works


Inventory your experience

Take note of your learning experiences outside of the classroom.


Consider your opportunities

How does your experience fit with potential PLA options?


Contact us!

Speak with us to find out how to earn college credit through Prior Learning Assessment.



PLA Opportunities

American Council on Education (ACE)

Students who have participated in learning programs outside the college classroom, including military service, workplace training, and apprenticeships, may receive college credit recommendations or validated competencies through ACE Learning Evaluations.

National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS)

NCCRS evaluates training and education programs offered outside of the traditional college classroom setting and translates them into college credit equivalencies.

Standardized Tests

Students may earn college credit via national standardized tests, including: Advanced Placement, CLEP, DSST/DANTES, International Baccalaureate, Straighterline, and UExcel.


Challenge Exams

Challenge Exams provide students with the opportunity to earn college credits without formal course enrollment by taking a comprehensive examination in the subject matter of the course. Formats and availability vary by campus and department.

Portfolio Assessments

Students may have the option to prepare a portfolio detailing their college-level knowledge and skills gained through prior learning experiences and have it evaluated for credit by faculty. Formats and availability vary by campus and department.



PLA Data & Reports  

PLA in the MUS

Prior Learning Assessment Activity

Students in the MUS that have PLA credits often earned those through Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. About 10% of students earned PLA credits through other PLA opportunities.

PLA Demographics

Prior Learning Assessment Demographics

The demographics of students with PLA credits mirrors the overall demographics of the MUS, but students that earned PLA credits from their military and life experiences are older and more often veterans. 

PLA Statistics

Prior Learning Assessment Percentages in the MUS
In the MUS, approximately 45% of students have earned PLA credit.  28% of students age 25+ have PLA credits, while 62% of veteran students have PLA credits.


2019 Prior Learning Assessment Annual Report
2020 Prior Learning Assessment Annual Report

2021 Prior Learning Assessment Annual Report
2022 Prior Learning Assessment Annual Report

PLA Policy

Board of Regents Prior Learning Assessment Policy (301.19)



For questions and more information contact one of our campuses or contact us:

Jacque Treaster
Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
Montana University System
560 N Park Ave
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 449-9135