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Creating an Undergraduate Prior Learning Portfolio

Your life experiences can earn you college credit.

Adult learners bring valuable knowledge and experience to their college degree programs, and that knowledge and experience may translate into credits at Walden University. Credits earned through past experiences can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree, potentially helping to save both time and money.

Students may be able to earn college credits based on prior learning in the following areas:

  • Work
  • Volunteering
  • The military
  • On-the-job training
  • Intense personal experience
  • Professional development courses

Creating an Undergraduate Prior Learning Portfolio

In order to earn college credit for your life experiences, you’ll need to develop a portfolio, which is known as a prior learning assessment portfolio. Your portfolio is a collection of the experiences you’ve had and the knowledge and skills you’ve gained from those experiences. That portfolio is then evaluated against a rubric. Portfolios that score at least 70% when reviewed will earn the student up to 5 quarter credits.

The portfolio components are a résumé, a narrative, and evidence. The résumé is simply an updated list of your work experience—the same document you would use to apply for a job. The narrative is an essay that explains how your experience equates to college-level learning. The evidence is a collection of examples that demonstrate your learning. It can consist of work documents, photos, videos, websites, journal entries, and more.

There are two ways to submit a portfolio for consideration. You can develop a portfolio for a specific course to show that your experiences meet that course’s learning outcomes—this is called Course Match. Or you can focus on an academic discipline and create a portfolio that demonstrates your depth of knowledge in five to eight course outcomes. This is called Elective Discipline Match, and it can earn you credit for lower-level general electives. Your Enrollment Specialist can help you determine which type of portfolio to develop.

When you’re ready to work on your portfolio, you won’t be alone in the process. Here’s how Walden supports you in creating a prior learning assessment portfolio:

1. Self-paced module

The Office of Degree Acceleration will enroll you in a non-credit module that will guide you through the process of creating your portfolio.

2. Staff assistance

As you work through the module, you can ask questions and request help from Office of Degree Acceleration staff members.

3. Preliminary review

You can submit a draft of your portfolio to the Office of Degree Acceleration before you officially submit it for scoring. That way you can address any feedback before you submit your portfolio to be scored.

Additionally, the Office of Degree Acceleration offers plenty of online resources to help you along the way. You can review examples, use templates, and take advantage of tools to help streamline the process. You can also review the rubric to understand how your portfolio will be evaluated.

Life experience matters. It has value. And at Walden University, your valuable experience might be able to help you earn a degree online faster.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering bachelor’s degree programs in a variety of areas. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,