Prior Learning Policy

POLICY TITLE: Prior Learning


EFFECTIVE: November 16, 2016


Since 1964, the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) has broadened and expanded its initial offerings of accelerated pathways for learning from Advanced Placement, Transfer Credit, and CLEP to adding such opportunities as Departmental Challenge Tests, Servicemembers Opportunity College with the Department of Defense, acceptance of ACE recommendations for Military Training, Standardized Credit Awards, and Prior Learning Assessment of portfolios. Through the process of evaluating and recognizing prior learning acquired external to CCRI, the college has demonstrated a long history and commitment to accelerated pathways for learning.

The foundational interest at CCRI with respect to accelerated pathways for learning is less about the means by which prior learning took place and more about whether the learning can be demonstrated to meet or exceed the criteria of college level learning.

The goal of providing accelerated pathways for learning are to reduce the time and cost of acquiring a degree or certification by evaluating and recognizing a student’s prior learning. A few examples of prior learning that can be evaluated, recognized, and awarded credit are:

  • Traditional academic programs through other colleges and dual enrollment programs with secondary educational settings
  • Corporate or military sponsored training and development programs
  • Courses and certifications offered by industry or professional organizations
  • Independent reading, research, and experiential learning

At CCRI, there is a prioritization in the pathways for prior learning. This is important to maintain the best long term interest of the student in the awarding of credit.


At CCRI, the processes and procedures regarding the recognition, evaluation of prior learning, and awarding of college level credit shall be:

  • structured and implemented to maintain the institution’s need to validate both the educational level and quality of the learning
  • in compliance with state and federal legislation, as well as standards for regional (NEASC) and program accreditation, as well as the Council on Postsecondary Education
  • proactive and highly visible via college media and marketing efforts, promoted well within and across the institution, and be accessible to all prospective and admitted students
  • in the best long term interest of the student and recorded on their transcript such that the student, should they choose to extend their learning to other institutions, both within the state of Rhode Island or across the United States, will experience the least likelihood for loss of credits
  • applied towards specific courses offered within a degree or certificate program at CCRI or advance a student towards the completion of a degree
  • monitored and evaluated for continuous improvement of accelerated pathways and that the process and procedures for awarding prior learning credit are found to be effective in meeting the needs of all stakeholders, especially those of the students

Academic Department subject matter experts, as designated by the Department Chair, will ultimately be responsible for making prior learning assessment credit award decisions.


Prior Learning is a more global term applied to all forms of extra-institutional and learning that takes place through any other means than CCRI classroom instruction.


All CCRI students, those departments and programs under the purview of the Office of Academic Affairs, and those departments and functions in the Office of Student Affairs.


Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Vice President of Academic Affairs.


The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs in consultation with the Academic Deans and Department Chairs are responsible for the oversight of this policy

APPROVED:      Dr. Meghan Hughes, President              Date: 11/16/2016

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Last Updated: 2/27/18