What is CPL?


Prior learning is learning gained through life or work. Many people learn through their experiences in life such as those in

  • professional endeavors (through business, the military, or other work and training experiences); or other
  • educational experiences (through community work, family, travel, or personal study).

CPL is a process through which students identify areas of relevant learning from their past experiences, demonstrate that learning through appropriate documentation, and submit their materials so that they can be assessed and possibly awarded academic credit relative to specific course objectives.

The Council of Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) defines CPL as follows: "The recognition of learning gained from experiences that may be granted credit or otherwise certified… The assessment of learning attained through experiences irrespective of the time and place in which they occurred." (Assessing Learning, 2nd edition, By Morry Fiddler, Catherine Marienau, and Urban Whitaker p.12)

Who is eligible to participate in CPL?

Prospective students who fit the following criteria are eligible to participate in CPL:

  • they are adults
  • or they are non-traditional students
  • and they have other learning experiences outside of a traditional college curriculum which are documentable and could be considered equivalent to the academic course(s) for which the CPL is being sought. 

The CPL process guides students as they:

  • identify areas of relevant learning from past experiences,
  • demonstrate learning through appropriate documentation,
  • submit materials for assessment, and
  • possibly gain academic credit relative to specific GSC course objectives.

For more information on how CPL works, view the PDF version of the 2015 CPL Student Handbook .

The CPL 2000 Documentation Course is offered by USG institutions to assist students with the development of required portfolio documentation. Please contact the GSC Adult Learner coordinator or your advisor for details regarding the portfolio option.

What are the advantages of CPL?

CPL will help students who 1) Are entering college for the first time, or 2) Are recently becoming reacquainted with college learning and expectations.

CPL will also reduce the time and money required to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree although it will require the investment of both. Certain CPL components require fees such as testing for standardized and department examinations or portfolio assessment evaluations.

By evaluating prior learning, GSC verifies that experiential learning has taken place and is comparable to college level courses.