Credit for Prior Learning

Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge that you have gained through a variety of experiences such as: military training, corporate trainings, work or volunteer experiences, MOOCs or other non-academic activities prior to enrolling at Bristol. You can demonstrate you have met course outcomes outside of your academic program in one of three ways:

  • Credit By Credential - You may earn equivalent course credit for prior learning from instruction sponsored by the military, business and industry, public and private agencies, associations and educational institutions, and/or licensure preparation by regulatory agencies and associations that resulted in an acknowledged credential. 
  • Credit By Examination - You may earn equivalent course credits for prior learning by taking an exam that demonstrates you have met course outcomes. Currently, CLEP, Advanced Placement (AP) program or departmental challenge exams are used for a variety of courses. 
  • Credit by Portfolio - You may earn equivalent course credit for prior learning by submitting a digital portfolio. The portfolio has several components and documents college-level competencies acquired through educational, vocational, or personal learning experiences. 

Some Benefits of CPL

  1. Research indicates students are more likely to graduate if they have earned CPL credits.
  2. Students are connected to program coordinators and faculty as part of the process.
  3. Time to graduation is shortened.
  4. Shortened time to graduation equals financial savings.
  5. Students often choose to take electives or other courses in their discipline that there is usually no room for – widening their knowledge base.

Limitations of CPL

  1. You cannot apply for CPL for any course you have taken at Bristol and failed.
  2. This process is not free. There is a fee that varies depending on the course.
  3. If you pass an exam or portfolio, a “T” is noted on your transcript – not a grade; a “T” is not transferable to 4 year institutions usually.
  4. CPL is not available for all courses.
  5. The College and CPL coordinator working with the departments and programs chooses which process to be used.


To get started, visit the My Experience Counts website. Be sure to use your email when asked. Once registered, you will be connected to the CPL coordinator with next steps.

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