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Is the PLA Petition process for You?

Answer the following questions to determine if this process is for you

Click on the links for more information.

Q: Is your learning college level?

Q: Can you find a course description that describes your learning?

  • If you cannot locate a course description for the learning you wish to document, perhaps it is too specialized and not eligible for consideration.
  • If you have found a course description, go on to the next question.

Q: Do you have or can you obtain evidence proving your expertise in it?

Q: Does it fulfill a requirement in your program of study?

  • While the PLA Petition is an efficient and economical way of getting educational credentials, earning credits that will not help or enrich you is only a waste of time and money. As you consider each subject, determine how it fits with your priorities and how it will help you meet your objectives.
  • If you have found a course description, can provide evidence of your expertise in the subject matter and it fulfills a requirement in your plan of study, you are ready to apply.

College Level Learning

If you are requesting college credit you must describe your learning in such a way that it meets the following criteria. College level learning must:

  • Be measurable
  • Be at a level of achievement defined by the faculty as college equivalent or
    consistent with the learning of other students engaged in college studies;
  • Be applicable outside the specific job or context in which it was learned;
  • Have a knowledge base;
  • Be reasonably current;
  • Imply a conceptual or theoretical as well as a practical understanding;
  • Show some relationship to your degree goals; and
  • Not repeat learning for which credit has already been awarded (Lois Lamdin Earn College Credit for What you Know p. 99).

Locating Course Descriptions

Once you have pinpointed the right subject areas, you can start choosing course descriptionsto match them. Each subject area for which you are seeking credit needs an accompanying description of an actual course taught for college credits.

If you are unable to match your chosen subject area with a specific course at CCRI, you may search through catalogs from other accredited colleges in order to locate a description of an actual course that best reflects your knowledge.

The course description is an important part of your petition because it gives the assessor:

  • Proof that the subject is college-level
  • An indication of its credit value
  • A summary of the knowledge you claim.

Since each description you select will serve as the standard for measuring your learning, your catalog search should be as thorough as possible. While the CCRI catalog will be your primary source, you may choose courses from nearly any course taught at an accredited community college. Exceptions are physical education, cooperative study, and student teaching courses. In addition, courses for which CCRI has no expertise to evaluate cannot be accommodated (for example: animal husbandry).

In reviewing your petition, your mentor will expect your knowledge to cover the topics listed in the course description you provide. Therefore, it is essential that your knowledge and the course description match.

Community College of Rhode Island students are required to secure approval from their petition mentor prior to developing and submitting the petition to the Dean of Business, Science and Technology.

Documenting Your Knowledge

Evidence, the material you submit to document your claim of college-level learning, is the foundation of your petition. Effective evidence does the following:

  • Provides direct documentation of your knowledge and skills
  • Pertains specifically to the topics in your course description
  • Supports the statements in your narrative about your learning experiences.

Sample Evidence of Training:

  • Course transcript, official course description or syllabus
  • Completed class assignments
  • Notes taken in class
  • Training manual, textbook or other literature used
  • Graded tests, reports or other work evaluations
  • Annotated bibliography or list of materials used
  • Certificate of attendance
  • Proof of enrollment
  • Diploma
  • Assigned reading list

Sample Evidence of Work-Related Learning

  • Reports, proposals or other material written on the job
  • Blueprints, schematics, artwork or other work products
  • Military separation papers
  • Performance evaluations
  • Awards or citations
  • Resumes
  • Letters from supervisors or employers
  • Licenses
  • Membership in professional or trade organizations
  • Newspaper or magazine clippings about your work
  • Description of job requirements
  • Description of license or certification requirements

Other Forms of Evidence:

  • Commendations
  • Awards
  • Newspaper and magazine clippings
  • Letters of corroboration from co-volunteers, clients served, supervisor
  • An annotated bibliography
  • Patents obtained
  • A list of countries visited
  • Mementos from countries lived in and traveled
  • Exhibits such as photographs, videotapes, etc.
  • Programs from performances

More Information

For information related to fees, eligibility and transferability of credits see Frequently Asked Questions.


This page developed and maintained by Prior Learning. Send comments and suggestions to .

Last Updated: 1/9/17