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Prior Learning Assessment Program (PLA)

Ramapo College will grant academic credit through assessment of  prior learning  at the undergraduate level.


Matriculated undergraduate students at Ramapo College of New Jersey are eligible to apply for, and may acquire credit for, knowledge that they have gained outside the traditional academic setting through work, training, community service, and other accomplishments.  The process of Prior Learning Assessment involves the development of a portfolio reviewed by an identified faculty member who confirms that the prior learning for which the student wishes credit is relevant to a particular program’s or course’s learning outcomes.  Credit by PLA portfolio is available to all undergraduate students, but is most commonly used by adult learners [1].  Ramapo follows the standards developed by The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) regarding assessment of prior learning ( The following procedure outlines the steps by which a PLA portfolio review begins and culminates with the awarding of credits.

Reviewing PLA portfolio policies with student

General information about earning credits through PLA portfolio is made available to students at transfer and adult orientation sessions. Any matriculated undergraduate student interested in earning credit through PLA portfolio must schedule a meeting with the Director of the Degree Completion Program (DCP) to discuss courses for which he or she is requesting PLA credits.  The DCP Director provides the student with the PLA Student Handbook, as well as the Application Packet and other resources, and reviews the following policies with the student:

  • Students may earn a maximum of 16 credits through PLA portfolio in an undergraduate program.
  • Credits awarded through PLA portfolio are treated as transfer credits. Transfer credits are comprised of transfer courses from previous institutions, CLEP credits, and PLA portfolio credits. Undergraduate students who have already reached the maximum amount of 80 transfer credits may not earn credits through a PLA portfolio.
  • Students must adhere to the College residency requirement and thus may not earn credits through PLA as part of their final 32 credits of degree.
  • PLA must address the outcomes of a specific course in the current Ramapo catalog. Portfolios may be submitted for 100-300 level courses only and may not be used to substitute for a capstone course.
  • Courses petitioned through PLA must not duplicate transfer credit or any other coursework used to fulfill degree requirements. Students who enroll in a Ramapo course and do not earn a passing grade may not petition to earn credit for that same course through PLA portfolio.
  • The credit request for a PLA portfolio must match the amount of credit normally awarded for the course being petitioned.

Applying for PLA portfolio credits

Once the meeting is complete, the DCP Director directs the student to the appropriate Dean to discuss the portfolio option as it relates to a specific course.  If the Dean determines that earning credit through PLA portfolio is appropriate for the identified course, he or she, in consultation with the Convener, will identify a faculty member to act as the portfolio assessor.

The student then meets with the designated faculty assessor to discuss the requirements and expectations of the portfolio. Together they determine how the student can best demonstrate in a portfolio the kinds of knowledge, competencies, and skills acquired through prior learning. The student and faculty assessor come to a clear understanding of the portfolio requirements, the criteria that the assessor will use to determine if the student has met the course learning outcomes, and the timeline for completing the portfolio. This information is documented on the PLA Portfolio Contract which is signed by the student, the faculty assessor, and the Dean.  The student is responsible for obtaining the Dean’s signature on the PLA Portfolio Contract.

Once all of the above approvals have been obtained, the Dean’s office forwards the completed PLA Portfolio Contract to the DCP Director, who posts the assessment fee to the student’s account.  The assessment fee must be paid before the portfolio can be reviewed, and the DCP Director is responsible for confirming payment of the assessment fee.

Assessing the PLA portfolio

The student submits the completed PLA portfolio to the faculty assessor by the agreed deadline.  The faculty assessor reviews the completed PLA portfolio and meets with student if a meeting is part of the assessment.  The faculty assessor then completes the PLA Portfolio Review Sheet and either: 1) approves awarding credit for the portfolio; 2) denies awarding credit for the portfolio; or 3) requests a revision and re-submission of the portfolio by a specified date.  Requests for resubmission are at the discretion of the assessor, not the student.  Failure to resubmit a revised portfolio by the specified date will result in a denial of credit for the portfolio.

The faculty assessor notifies the student in writing of the assessment result, and submits the portfolio and completed PLA Portfolio Review Sheet to the DCP Office.  If credit is awarded, the DCP Director, requests that the Office of the Registrar post the awarded credits to the student’s transcript.  The DCP Office forwards all portfolios approved for credit to the Office of the Registrar for inclusion in the student’s official academic file.  If a portfolio is not approved for credit or if re-submission is requested, the DCP Office returns the portfolio to the student.

Processing an assessor stipend

The DCP Director processes all necessary paperwork for faculty assessor compensation, which is based on a flat rate per single portfolio. However, on occasion, there may be a reason to award credit for more than one course equivalency in a single PLA portfolio.  In those cases, the stipend paid to the faculty assessor will be determined on a per-hour rate to equal not less than the flat rate per single portfolio.

PLA portfolio fee structure

Students who submit a PLA portfolio must pay an assessment fee. This fee must be paid prior to the portfolio assessment and is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the portfolio assessment. The fee is based on the number of credits requested in the portfolio. The current per-credit fee is posted on the College’s website along with the current tuition and other fees.

Additional information is available at

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