Earn credits from work and life experiences!

As a nontraditional student, you may be able to earn credits for knowledge that you've acquired outside of the college classroom.

Almost half of our students are over 25 and bring a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences to the classroom. Through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) we can determine whether certain courses can be waived, saving you time and money. We also can award credits for courses in which you can demonstrate your knowledge of the material.

Receive prior learning credits

  • Apply to Montco, or be a student of the College;
  • Review our list of programs and courses to determine if you have mastered any of the concepts through your prior learning or experience;
  • Submit the prior learning questionnaire, and we can help you identify what credits you may be eligible for;
  • Meet with an academic advisor to confirm prior learning credits and determine which program and/or courses are right for you.

Montco has been engaged in prior learning assessment (advanced standing) since its founding and, most recently, as the TAACCCT 2 grant lead in development of CCFastTrack, the community college statewide platform for prior learning assessment, and open education resource (OER) entrepreneurial skills training course.

Types of Prior Learning Assessment
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Course-based transfer for the skilled trades

Because we recognize that not all learning takes place in a classroom, we include apprenticeships in Prior Learning Assessment and accelerated degree completion opportunities. Apprentices who successfully complete a U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program can earn up to 24 credits toward a degree from Montco.
The course-based transfer credit applies equally to any student who:
  • completes a Registered Apprenticeship Program recognized by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Apprentice and
  • shows proof of competency/completion of the registered apprenticeship program via a Journeyman’s Card or similar credential.

Standard exams

  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
    You may receive college credit if you have achieved at least a mean (average) score on any College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. You can earn up to a maximum of 50 percent of the course requirements for an associate’s degree, but you still must complete at least 30 credit hours at Montco to receive your degree. Montgomery County Community College is an official CLEP testing center.
  • Advanced Placement (AP)
    If you took college-level courses in high school or gained educational experience from other sources, you may be able to take Advanced Placement (AP) exams and receive AP credit to count toward your Montco degree. AP scores of 3 or higher are eligible for credit, and we accept these exams.

Evaluation of training and/or education

We participate in the following national evaluations:
  • American Council on Education (ACE)
  • Military experience
  • Students Occupationally and Academically Ready (SOAR)
  • Industry certifications

Individualized PLA

In Individualized Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) faculty members evaluate non-traditional learning experiences to see how they compare to the objectives of existing academic credit courses and help decide whether they can be considered for college credit. For example, if you have experience as a supervisor in an industrial manufacturing firm, we will ask you to demonstrate what you have learned about production problem-solving, cost-effectiveness, supervision and labor problems, and how that learning can be related to the objectives of a college course. To be eligible for college credit, your prior learning experience must:
  • Be equivalent to college-level learning.
  • Be verified through objective measurements. You must be able to demonstrate to qualified evaluators that you possess the appropriate skills and/or knowledge.
  • Be grounded in both theory and practice. College credit will not be awarded for application of a manual skill or a narrowly prescribed routine or procedure; you must have a demonstrated knowledge of the subject and understand why you do what you do.
  • Have general applications outside of where you acquired the experience.

Credit by examination

Depending on the subject, you may be able to receive college credit by taking a special exam. This exam costs the same as one credit at the current Montco tuition rate. You still must complete at least 30 traditional credit hours at Montco to receive a degree. Contact an advisor for more information.


Certain Montco programs allow you to create a portfolio to demonstrate that your knowledge is equivalent to what you would have learned in a comparable college course. The written component of the portfolio offers a way for you to highlight personal experience and support the claim that your knowledge is equivalent to the course you're challenging.

Transfer credits and non-credit programs