Program credit transfer

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Apply Now for August 2024 classes. All PLA portfolios must be submitted by Jul 15th, 2024.


Founded in 1997, Sessions College has provided high quality online arts education to adult learners for 25 years.

We know that education transforms lives, but we also recognize that many kinds of learning take place outside the classroom. In a constantly changing creative industry, many of us develop skills and competencies outside the academic environment, in the professional workplace, non-credit courses and training, certifications, and other experiences.

The Sessions College Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program enables prospective students with evidence of college-level skills or knowledge to have their skills and experience evaluated for credit towards a degree.

Evidence of prior learning is evaluated by qualified experts and awarded when the evidence of skills or knowledge provided meets or exceeds the competencies defined for a Sessions College course, in alignment with program outcomes. Students awarded credits through the PLA program may lower their program costs and earn their degree more quickly.

Program Benefits At a Glance

Show Your Skills and Experience

Demonstrate and get credit for learning that you have already attained.

Lower Tuition Costs

Reduce your tuition costs for each course credit award received.

Pace to Graduation

Credit transfer can shorten your program, allowing you to graduate sooner.


The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program is designed for students or applicants who have developed college-level knowledge and skills that they are able to demonstrate meet the defined learning objectives of a Sessions College course.

Prior learning credit may be awarded for a combination of work or life experience and evidence of skills attained.


Suitable work or life experience may include:

  • On-the-job work experience
  • Corporate or military training
  • Volunteer activities
  • Organized research or self-study
  • Artistic or creative accomplishments


Evidence of skills attained will require:

  • Work Samples. At least three (3) work samples that meet or exceed at least 80% of the course outcomes.
  • Evidence of Preparation. Evidence of your creative/development process for each work sample provided.
  • Third-Party Verification. Signed letter from a client, employer, or qualified professional describing and verifying your level of expertise in this subject area.
  • Chronological resumé. Provide an updated chronological resumé.
  • (Optional). Training, Licensure, or Certification. Evidence of successfully completing a professionally recognized non-credit course, training session, certificate, or licensure in the subject area.
  • (For General Education courses). Sessions College exam. In addition to the above items, students wishing to receive PLA credit for General Education courses may complete a 90-minute Sessions College proctored exam with multiple choice and written components.


To participate in the PLA program, you must enroll in the PLA 100 course, a self paced course offered each term to assist you in the process of evaluating and documenting your prior learning.

In the PLA 100 course, you will be provided information on what kinds of evidence or documentation will be required to meet requirements for prior learning assessment for program courses.

Step 1: Review the PLA Course Catalog And Select Your Portfolios

Review our PLA course catalog and select course(s) for which you can demonstrate equivalent knowledge and skills. For each course that you select, you will need to prepare a PLA Portfolio with evidence of your skills and experience. PLA Catalogs for eligible programs:

You will need to pay an evaluation fee based on the number of courses/PLA Portfolios you intend to submit.

Step 2: Create Your Skills Profile

Create your skills profile by completing a work and educational experience questionnaire.

Step 3: Submit all PLA Portfolios by the Deadline

Prepare a PLA Portfolio for each selected course and submit all your PLA Portfolios by the portfolio submission deadline. Each PLA Portfolio must include an updated chronological resumé.

Step 4: Receive your evaluation of PLA credit

Each PLA portfolio will be evaluated by qualified faculty. You will receive your evaluation of PLA credit within two weeks of a completed submission and payment.

Important Conditions

  • All credit evaluation decisions are at the discretion of Sessions College.
  • The student/applicant is responsible for providing information that documents their skills and experience.
  • While credit evaluation decisions may be appealed, PLA course fees are non-refundable even if academic credit is not awarded.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are answers to important rules regarding PLA program eligibility and operation. Please read all rules before applying to this program.


Which programs are eligible for PLA?

The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program is available to prospective students applying to the following BFA or AOS program:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA): Graphic Design, Illustration, Digital Photography
  • Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS): Graphic Design, Web Design, Digital Media, Illustration, Digital Photography
Which students can apply for PLA?

This course is designed for new students applying to Sessions College degree programs beginning January 2023. Students are only eligible to take this course if they have submitted an application to enroll in a Bachelor’s or Associate Degree program for a future term.

How many credits may I earn?

Under the PLA program, a student may earn credits for up to 25% of credits in the program.

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA): Up to 30 credits
  • Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS): Up to 18 credits

Note: Program applicants who have earned equivalent academic credits at other institutions may also be be eligible for academic credit transfer. A maximum of 50% of program credits may be accepted via credit transfer from other institutions. 

Which courses are eligible for PLA?

Prior learning evaluation is available for a wide selection of foundation and general education courses in each program. It is not available for advanced or capstone courses. Exceptions may be granted to candidates with 3-5 years experience working in the field on case-by-case basis. Prior learning evaluation is not available for any currently enrolled or completed course.

How much does it cost?

The tuition to enroll in the PLA 100 course is $399, non refundable after five days. Students who enroll in the course are entitled to one PLA Portfolio submission at no extra charge. Each additional PLA Portfolio submission will cost $250.

Program Fee
PLA 100 Course$399 (includes one PLA Portfolio)
Each additional PLA Portfolio$250

Important: PLA Portfolio fees must be paid before the course evaluation deadline in order for evaluations to be processed.  PLA 100 course tuition and PLA Portfolio fees are non-refundable even if academic credit is not awarded. 

How much can I save?

A student who earn credits through the Prior Learning Assessment process can save more than $1000 per 3-credit course where credit is awarded, thus reducing overall program costs and improving pace towards graduation.

How long does it take?

The PLA 100 course can be completed at your own pace. We recommend that students applying for PLA credit enroll early in the term to allow sufficient time to compile strong portfolios. All PLA Portfolios must be submitted by PLA Portfolio submission deadlines as follows: 

TermPLA Portfolio Submission Deadline
April 2024March 15th, 2024
August 2024July 15th, 2024
January 2025November 15th, 2024
Will my PLA credits transfer to other institutions?

Credit transfer decisions are always at the discretion of a receiving institution. If the ultimate transfer of your earned credits to another institution is important to you, we recommend you check with that institution.

Be aware that not every school has a PLA program. Many schools will not recognize PLA credit (as opposed to academic credit) if it is assessed by another institution.

Where can I learn more about PLA?

The Sessions College PLA program is aligned with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) Ten Standards for Assessing Learning and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) Transfer Credits and Experiential Learning policy.

Ready to start?

You can begin your Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) application here.