Prior Learning Assessment

College Credit for Previous Work or Experiences

If you have previous life and work experiences where you gained significant knowledge or skills, you might be able to translate those skills and knowledge into college credit through our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program.

PLA helps you identify and demonstrate relevant learning acquired outside the Leeward Community College classroom----and translate this learning into college credit. This can translate into saving you money & time in your way to earning your degree.

The College believes there are many ways to demonstrate the learning outcomes and competencies found in traditional classroom course offerings.  Leeward CC provides a number of options to earn college credit through previous college and non-college coursework, equivalency and standardized exam scores, and skills gained from life experiences.

Leeward students may demonstrate their competencies and be granted credit from

  • college transfer credit
  • non-collegiate sponsored education credit
  • equivalency exams
  • credit by institutional exams
  • back language credits
  • portfolio-based assessments
  • independent study

The number of credit hours that may be earned through the PLA program varies and is dependent on the type of PLA assessment given.  PLA credits may not be used to meet the residency requirement 12 credit hours or 20% credit hours toward a degree or certificate.

4 Ways to Earn Credit through PLA

College Transfer Credit

College Transfer Credit:  Courses completed at other regionally accredited colleges and universities with a grade of “D” or better may be transferred toward a Leeward Community College degree. Upper division courses (300 or higher under the UH System’s course numbering system) may be applied to no more than 20% of the Leeward CC’s degree or certificate.

Non-collegiate Sponsored Education Credit:  Non-collegiate settings may be equivalent to college credit, including courses sponsored by the military, business, industry, community agencies, labor unions, professional licenses, or industry certifications.

Equivalency Examinations

Standardized tests are national exams that allow you to demonstrate your proficiency in a subject area. These tests include Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and DSST exams.

Prior Learning Experiences

Credit by Institutional Exam:  Students may request to take an instructor-prepared course examination covering material of a regular Leeward CC course.  An adequate examination score earns college credit for the course without attending classes. Before credits are awarded, 50% tuition of the regular course fee is required.

Back Language Credits:  Students placed above the 101 level in foreign languages offered at Leeward CC can receive at no additional cost credits for the courses they are exempted from upon completing the next course in the sequence with the grade of C or higher.

Portfolio-based Assessment:  Students with previous learning experiences, may earn Leeward CC credit if the experience can be verified and documented. Before credits are awarded,60% tuition of the regular course fee is required.

Independent Study

Students who wish to design and complete individual study projects geared to their particular interests may apply to the appropriate academic division for Independent Study credit.  A faculty member and Division Chair must approve project plans.

Steps to Receive Credit for Prior Learning

  1. Schedule a counseling appointment to inquire about earning college credit for your prior learning experiences
  2. Decide which Leeward CC course you want prior learning credit for and which PLA method to use
  3. Contact the appropriate faculty and decide if your prior learning is appropriate for PLA
  4. If needed, contact the PLA Coordinator to facilitate the PLA process
  5. Upon approval, pay the required fees
  • Credit by Exam:  50% of regular tuition for course
  • Portfolio-based Assessment:  60% of regular tuition for course
  • Submit documentation or take an exam
  • The Registrar’s office awards grade
  • Frequency Asked Questions

    Schedule an appointment with your counselor to decide which Leeward CC courses you want prior learning credit for and which PLA method to use.

    The number of credit hours that may be earned through the PLA program varies and is dependent on the type of PLA assessment given. 

    PLA Methods include College Transfer Credits, Non-collegiate Sponsored Education Credits, Equivalency Examinations, Credit by Institutional Exams, Back Language Credits, Portfolio-based Assessments, and Independent Study.

    Not all schools accept all forms of PLA.  If you plan to transfer to another institution, please speak with your academic counselor.
    60% of the regular course fee for Portfolio-based Assessments
    50% of the regular course fee for Credit by Institutional Exams.

    You will only receive credit at Leeward CC for courses offered by the college.

    PLA credits may not be used to meet the residency requirement, 12 credit hours or 20% credit hours toward a Leeward CC degree or certificate. 

    You must be enrolled at Leeward CC to receive PLA credit. 

    Schedule an Appointment

    Schedule an appointment with your counselor to inquire about earning credit for your prior learning experiences.
    Phone:  (808) 455-0233, (808) 455-0234

    Transcripts:  Official transcripts from other institutions and programs must be requested and paid for by the student.

    Registrar, Admissions and Records (A&R)
    Leeward Community College
    96-045 Ala Ike, AD 220 (during renovations located at DH-A 108)
    Pearl City, HI 96782