Academic Credit for Prior Learning

Section: III. STSV-212
Approved By: Dr. Ivan Harrell, 09/27/23
Prior Revisions: June 2011, February 2016, February 2017
Initial Adoption: 1/28/04


To increase student retention and reduce time toward credential completion. TCC recognizes that students may gain college-level knowledge through life and work experience outside of traditional academic settings. TCC also recognizes that there are skills that are acquired through job-related or life experience that are applicable to prior learning assessment. Students who have obtained an industry standard, state or nationally recognized credential, official military transcript or have completed other measures of competence are qualified to apply for credit for prior learning.

To Whom Does This Policy Apply

This policy applies to all individuals registered for classes at Tacoma Community College, or who have previously earned credits at TCC.


  • RCW 28B.10.057 Academic credit for military training.
  • RCW 28B.77.230 Academic credit for prior learning.
  • Previous Board Policy Manual Section 4.1030 Advanced Placement
  • Previous Board Policy Manual Section 1.5050 Course Challenge
  • Previous Board Policy Manual Section 4.5060 College Level Examination Program


Tacoma Community College may award academic credit for knowledge and expertise acquired through life and professional experience. This may include, but is not limited to, experiences gained through: military service, on the job experience, industry certification, and other academic settings. The number of credits that a student may earn through Academic Credit for Prior Learning (ACPL) are limited by the residency requirements and may be limited by individual program/credential requirements.

All credit earned for ACPL will be noted on the transcript with a grade of “S”. Institutions have differing policies regarding acceptance of ACPL for transfer credits. Though TCC may choose to award credit, other institutions may not recognize this credit for transfer purposes.

The primary types of ACPL that TCC recognizes are:

  1. Advanced Placement – Credit will be awarded for Advanced Placement tests in compliance with SBCTC guidelines.
  2. International Baccalaureate (IB) – Credit will be awarded for International Baccalaureate in compliance with SBCTC guidelines.
  3. Cambridge - Credit will be awarded for Cambridge Exams in compliance with SBCTC guidelines.
  4. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) – Credit may be awarded for CLEP tests based upon departmental approval. Students will need to verify if a transferring institution will accept credits granted in this manner.
  5. Course Challenge – Credit may be awarded for course challenge where a challenge examination is available. Students who successfully challenge a course will receive an “S” grade.
  6. Portfolio – Credit may be awarded for Portfolio assessment in some departments. A portfolio consists of products, activities, exemplars, and other supporting documentation that supports and demonstrates a student’s attainment of course learning outcomes and other ways of knowing. Credit is granted for portfolios when approved by the appropriate department.
  7. Military Training – Credit may be awarded based on evaluation of Military Training. This may include courses, training, or activities noted on an individual’s military transcript issued by any branch of the armed services; or documented military training or experience that is substantially equivalent to any course or program offered by the institution of higher education. Typically, credit is awarded based on recommendation provided by the American Council on Higher Education (ACE) who evaluates different Military Occupational Specialties and the required training components.
  8. Industry Certification – Credit may be awarded based upon industry certification. Credit must be approved by the appropriate department.


Opportunities for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) vary from credential to credential and are subject to faculty review. Approved equivalencies, the process for evaluation of new PLA, and the process for receiving credits for PLA will be maintained in the Registrar’s Office.