PLA-100 and PLA-200

PLA-100 and PLA-200 are online courses offered by Thomas Edison State College that prepare to students to maximize the amount of credit they can earn for what they already know, helping them save both time and money. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a flexible, efficient way of earning college credits for college-level knowledge you have acquired through expertise and knowledge acquired outside the classroom. If you are like most adult students, you are likely to have learned something outside of college—whether through work, the military, hobbies, or some kind of training—that you might be able to apply toward your degree program. In other words, college is not the only place where you could have acquired college-level learning.

PLA-100 (1 credit)
This is a great first course to take at Thomas Edison State College! If you are interested in determining how what you already know could be turned into college credit, you will start with PLA-100, Introduction to Prior Learning Assessment. This 1-credit, 4-week course takes you through all the options offered by Thomas Edison State College for earning credit for what you already know: portfolio development, testing, licenses and certificates that have been reviewed for college credit, and more. The course also helps you understand what college-level learning means, and how to explore your own learning and experience to determine whether PLA options would fit your goals. PLA-100 carries General Education Elective credit in the Intellectual and Practical Skills (IPSL) category, which is required for your degree anyway.
PLA-200 (2 credit)
PLA-200, a 2-credit, 8-week course that is intended as a continuation of PLA-100, helps students identify the specific courses for which they can earn PLA credit, and gets them moving on the path to portfolio development. PLA-200 provides structure and support to help you document your experiences and develop a narrative that addresses the learning outcomes that are at the core of every course, leading you to multiple credits. Along the way, your PLA-200 mentor and the Office of Portfolio Assessment will answer your questions, provide you with the learning outcomes for the subjects you want to earn credit for, and guide your progress so that you can maximize the number of credits you can earn through PLA. As with PLA-100, PLA-200 also meets IPSL General Education Elective requirements.

Successful completion of the PLA-100/200 process could earn you credit for all of your college-level prior learning, as long as the credits fit in your degree program. The number of credits you can earn through PLA is limited only by your knowledge: nearly every Thomas Edison State College course can be satisfied via PLA. If you already have the knowledge, there is no need to sit through courses that cover the same material. Best of all: the PLA process allows students with college-level knowledge to earn those credits at a much lower cost than taking the courses.

What Is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of documents you put together to show what you already know and can do. Many professionals in business, education, design, and consulting use portfolios in their work. Your PLA portfolio includes a narrative, which is your discussion of your college-level knowledge, similar to a research paper that is supported by theory or concepts. It might also include evidence, such as certificates, letters of recommendation, and samples of work that will support your narrative and verify to the Subject Matter Expert that you have the knowledge and should be awarded credit. Your portfolio should address the learning objectives, or outcomes, of the courses you want to earn credit for and detail your experience acquiring this knowledge. It is read by subject-matter experts (usually Thomas Edison State College mentors), who make sure that what you already know is equivalent to what you would have learned if you had taken the course.

How Will I Know If I Have College-Level Knowledge?

Don’t worry: your PLA-100 and PLA-200 mentors will show you how. Your mentor will help you review what you already know and determine the level of your knowledge. Working with the Office of Prior Learning Assessment, you’ll also make sure that credit you might earn for your prior learning matches up with the College’s courses, and fits into your degree program.

What Does it Cost?

The comprehensive portfolio process offers significant savings over other options. The College charges a per-course cost for PLA-100 and PLA-200. The real difference is in the portfolio assessment fees: for those looking to earn up to 12 credits, there is a flat portfolio assessment fee of $363. For each additional 6 credits or part thereof, it’s another $206 assessment fee.

If you take a TECEP® exam to earn credit for what you already know, in-state students will pay only $105 for each 3-credit exam; out-of-state students will pay $111 for each exam.

This chart shows you the difference in cost between the comprehensive PLA-100/200 process and the older Single-Course process (based on 2014-15 New Jersey in-state tuition rates in the Enrolled Options Tuition Plan):

PLA-100/200 Process: Compare Single Course Process
$175.00 PLA-100 (1 credit) $175.00
$350.00 PLA-200 (2 credits) ---
$363.00 Cost for 12 credits earned via portfolio* $160.00 per credit
x 12 credits = $1,920.00
$206.00 Additional 6 credits $160.pp per credit
x 6 credits =
$1,094.00 Total Cost for 18 credits* $3,055.00
16-20 weeks Time spent (on average) to completion of 18 credits 36 weeks

*NOTE: These estimates do not include Annual Enrollment Tuition or Technology Service Fee required with Enrolled Options Tuition Plan.

Here is the Thomas Edison State College PLA Process:
PLA Process

To learn more about PLA and to complete the PLA Self-Assessment, go to