Credit for Prior Learning
Prior Learning Assessment
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) provides students with an opportunity to earn college credit for the knowledge and skills gained from previous education or training, military experience, volunteer, life and work experiences. Earning college credit by utilizing PLA can have positive impacts on college affordability, progress towards completion and overall student success. Prior learning credit is aligned with a corresponding WCC course. Students who believe that their professional experience, self-study or industry certifications meet the specific outcomes of a WCC course may demonstrate their prior learning in the following ways:
Credit may be awarded for certain industry licensures or certifications that have crosswalks to WCC courses. For a current list of recognized certification crosswalks, please contact the Credentials Evaluation Department
Students who believe their professional experience, previous training or self-study meet the specific outcomes of a WCC course may request to challenge that course. Each department determines the evaluation method required for students to demonstrate mastery of the course content. Industry certifications and licensures that do not have established crosswalks may also be considered using course challenge. Not all courses are appropriate for course challenge. Information outlining policies, procedures and fees is available in the entry and advising center as well as the college website.
WCC awards credits for CLEP exams that meet the subject and score criteria agreed upon by the college departments that oversee each appropriate discipline. Acceptable scores/course equivalencies are published on the college’s website. Students who apply for CLEP credit must request that official CLEP scores be sent directly from the College Board to the WCC records office. CLEP is considered transferred-in credit and is posted on the student’s academic record at the time of graduation. CLEP credits may not transfer to other colleges and universities. It is the student’s responsibility to contact transfer institutions regarding the acceptance of these credits.
High School Programs
Advanced Placement (AP)
The Advanced Placement (AP) program consists of college-level courses and exams for high school students. WCC awards specific course credit for AP exams with acceptable scores that are similar to courses offered by WCC. AP exams without comparable course offerings may be eligible for elective credit.
Students who apply for AP credit must request that official AP scores be sent directly from the College Board to the WCC records office. AP credit is considered transferred-in credit and is posted on the student’s academic transcript at the time of graduation. Acceptable scores/course equivalencies are published on the College’s website.
College in the High School
High schools in Whatcom County may contract with WCC to offer designated classes for college credit through the College in the High School (CHS) program. Students enrolling in such classes pay an administrative fee rather than full tuition. Information on classes, fees and procedures for CHS is available at individual high schools.
International Baccalaureate (IB)
The International Baccalaureate program consists of college courses and exams for high school students. WCC awards credit for higher level IB examinations that meet subject and score criteria agreed upon by the college departments that oversee each appropriate discipline.
Students who apply for IB credit must request that official IB scores be sent directly from International Baccalaureate to the WCC records office. IB credit is considered transferred-in credit and is posted on the student’s academic transcript at the time of graduation. Acceptable scores and course equivalencies are published on the College’s website.
Tech Prep Program
Tech Prep is a dual credit program that offers high school students an opportunity to earn college credits for approved high school courses. High school and college instructors have determined high school career and technical education courses that meet the entry level course requirements of comparable college courses. These courses are identified as Tech Prep approved. Students enrolled in these courses may be eligible to receive WCC credit through the high school’s articulation agreement with the College.
Students who complete approved high school College Tech Prep courses with a grade of “B” or better may request college credit by completing and submitting a Whatcom Tech Prep application form. Registration instructions are available in the career and counseling centers at each area high school. All college Tech Prep courses accepted for credit at WCC will be transcribed with the grade earned in the student’s high school course. Courses are only transcribed within the academic year the student completes the course work.
Award of articulated credits through WCC does not guarantee or imply acceptance of such credits by other institutions.
For more information, contact the College’s Tech Prep coordinator or visit Whatcom County’s Tech Prep website at whatcomtechprep.org.
Whatcom Community College (WCC) values the training, knowledge, and experience provided to our military servicepersons. Anyone who has served in a branch of the United States armed services and who is enrolled at WCC is eligible to have military training evaluated for college credit (RCW 28B.10.057).
Whatcom Community College (WCC) will make every effort to award credit for military training where possible. The following procedure is intended to clarify requirements, processes, and timelines for awarding credit.
Students receiving veteran education benefits or who desire an evaluation of military training are required to complete the following:
- Declare intent to complete a program of study offered at WCC.
- Provide an official Joint Services Transcript (JST), from the Community College of the Air Force, or from any other college/university attended.
- Submit all transcripts for evaluation within three quarters of admission to the program or be decertified for benefits.
- Submit a request to evaluate military training to the Credentials Evaluation Department. Students receiving VA benefits cannot opt out of prior credit evaluation.
The college, upon receipt of all the official transcript(s) and the student’s credit evaluation request will:
- Review military training transcripts received within 3 weeks for reading, English and mathematics placement (academic advising staff)
- Evaluate and record military training or experience that is substantially equivalent to any academic or program course offered at WCC no more than 8 weeks (credential evaluation staff & program faculty).
- Credential evaluation staff will evaluate all training and courses that are academic in nature towards the general education required for the program of study.
- Program coordinators, directors and/or appropriate faculty will evaluate all training and courses applicable to the program of study. Transcripts, course descriptions, previously determined credential equivalencies and ACE (American Council on Education) course recommendation will be used to determine equivalent credit recommendations.
- With final approval from the registrar, credentials evaluation staff will post all applicable credit to the student record and notify the student of the courses and credits awarded.
WCC will establish standard equivalencies to military credentials where possible. In the event the student changes their program of study, transfer credit will be re-evaluated at the student’s request and applied to the student record as applicable.
An exception will be made when criteria from an outside agency must be met prior to acceptance into the program.
Other Transferred-In Credit
Maintaining the integrity of Whatcom’s curriculum is a primary concern, and every attempt will be made to grant credit for equivalent courses. WCC reserves the right to determine which courses are acceptable for transfer from other institutions. Course credits must be earned from a regionally accredited institution. Only college-level courses for which credit has been granted by the sending institution will be considered (Credit for sectarian religious studies is not accepted). Courses from other accredited institutions (national, etc.) are considered on a case-by-case basis. Each student must initiate a request to have transfer credits evaluated (Note: Students with non-U.S. transcripts must request an evaluation from a professional service for evaluating foreign credentials). Each student will be individually notified of the results of the evaluation, with specific information about how the courses apply to his/her course of study.
Questions and concerns regarding a credential should first be addressed with a credential evaluator. If decided that it is necessary for an official exception/appeal to an evaluation, a course substitution form will be required. Any official exceptions/appeals to an evaluation should be addressed through this form, which can be initiated by a student, evaluator, advisor, administrator or faculty member.
These practices have been developed in accordance with the Intercollege Relations Commission (ICRC) for the State of Washington Handbook, AACRAO’s Transfer Credit Practices of Educational Institutions, and the “Transfer of Award & Credit” policy adopted by AACRAO, ACE and CHEA.