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Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

At IRSC you can earn credit for your professional experience through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). PLA is a process for assessing learning gained outside a traditional academic environment. IRSC students save money and time earning credit through PLA!

PLA can give students a head start by awarding credit for learning acquired through military service, work experience, employer training programs, independent study, non-credit courses or community service. Students who are good candidates for PLA should have one or more of the following:

  • Earned certifications and/or licenses (may not be expired)
  • Have significant work experience (5 years or more)
  • Earned some college credit already
  • Gained knowledge through military service (documented on JST or CCAF transcript)

Five Ways to Earn Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Credits

IRSC is committed to ensuring our military service members and veterans receive credit for college-level knowledge gained through their service. We are proud to comply with FLDOE rule 6A-14.0302 Credit for Military Service.

The American Council on Education (ACE) evaluates all military experiences for college credit recommendation. Results of the ACE evaluation are processed as transfer credit.

United States military veterans may obtain their transcripts through the Joint Services Transcript website.

Air Force personnel should request transcripts from the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF).

Credit-By-Exam or departmental exams are comprehensive evaluation tools used to assess a student’s proficiency in specific program outcomes and course objectives. Departmental exams test what adult learners already know about college-level subjects. When a student passes a departmental examination, the student earns credit hours toward the equivalent course.

The following exams may be taken for credit:

  • CLEP®
  • AP (Advanced Placement)
  • DSST and/or DANTES Exam
  • Department Comprehensive Exam

Gold Standard Industry Certification Articulation Agreements (Gold Standard Agreements) are maintained by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) as a means for the student to receive college credit for successfully earning a nationally recognized industry certification that is aligned with an Associate in Applied Science Degree or Associate in Science Degree. The intent is to guarantee the award of a minimum number of college credits for students entering the degrees approved. If the course aligns with the student’s Guided Pathway/Academic Plan, credits will be posted on official College transcripts.

For students with significant professional experience, military experience or trade experience, portfolio assessment is a rewarding process that teaches students to document their learning experience. A portfolio is built by matching a college course with the knowledge and skills gained by work or profession; through civic, community and volunteer work; or through independent, self-directed study. Students must satisfy a minimum of four (4) of the following for PLA credit consideration:

  • Resumé (career summary)
  • Letter from employer on letterhead with contact information
  • Previous job descriptions
  • Written narrative (describing how the student’s experience meets course learning objectives)
  • Demonstration of competency or video showcasing skill competencies
  • Course-specific work sample (artwork, training pamphlets, created manuals, etc.)
  • Certificate of completion

Credit is awarded for learning, not experience. Evidence is critical for a successful portfolio. PLA credit may not be applied towards a capstone or other end-of-program option.

Career Pathways Articulation Agreements between Indian River State College and local school districts give students who successfully complete Career Pathway academies a head start in achieving a college degree or technical certification—saving time and money and increasing their earning potential! Learn more about the Career Pathways academies in your county.


Students seeking PLA credit must:

  • Complete all IRSC admissions requirements
  • Be enrolled as a degree- or certificate-seeking student
  • Have not previously taken or attempted the course for PLA

Students who have already applied for graduation may not apply for PLA credit.

Awarding Credit

Prior Learning Assessment credit is only awarded when it is applicable to a student’s IRSC program of study. Assessments are based on college-level level learning that can be assessed and documented. Additionally,

  • PLA for selective-admissions programs will be considered after acceptance into the program.
  • A student can obtain up to 75% of an IRSC program based on PLA/work experience; the remaining 25% must be completed at IRSC for a credential to be awarded.
  • PLA credits are for lower-division coursework to help a prospective student jumpstart their degree program.
  • PLA will not be accepted if there was a previously failed attempt in a course.


For more information about the PLA process, call the IRSC Student Communications Center at 772-462-4772 or toll free at 1-866-792-4772, or send an email to

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