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Office ofPrior Learning Assessment

Start Here- How Prior Learning Works:


0. Before You Begin

Before beginning, there are a few important things you should know about Prior Learning:

  1. Prior Learning is not a transcript evaluation service. All competencies must be proven through an assessment method- exam, portfolio, or training evaluation.
  2. It is at the discretion of the faculty whether they will allow you to challenge and also what assessment method they will use.
  3. All challenges have a fee associated with them. This fee is an out of pocket expense, no financial aid may be used.
  4. Challenging a class does not mean you automatically get credit. If you fail, you do not receive credit, cannot challenge the course again, and will not receive a refund.
  5. You cannot challenge a course you previously took or attempted.
  6. If a CLEP or DSST exam exists for a specific course, you must use that method. Classes which are evaluated by CLEP/DSST can be found by clicking here.
  7. If you are on Academic Warning or Academic Suspension, you cannot challenge a course.
  8. All PLA credit appears as an XP on your transcript (if you are successful with your challenge) but does not count towards your GPA, writing requirement, institutional credit, and will not transfer with you if you leave ODU.

Please move to Step 1- How to Challenge

1. How to Challenge

The first step in challenging is to figure out what course(s) you would like to attempt via PLA. As noted in Step 0, the desire to challenge a course does not mean you will be able to. It is at the discretion of the faculty/department and their decision is final.

It's best to review your DegreeWorks and see what courses you need to take. After that, do some self reflection to see if any of the courses match your professional experience. If so, that may be one you would like to challenge.

Note that some departments/colleges have specific challenge rules. The most common are listed below:

  • College of Business- No internships/independent study course may be challenged.
  • Human Services- Only HMSV 468 may be challenged. Students hoping to challenge must have 5 years of full time experience within the field and should submit their resume/cover letter to PLA the semester BEFORE they hope to graduate. If approved, the portfolio would be put together your last semester.
  • Civil Engineering Technology- Students must have at least 15 institutional credits and a major specific GPA of at least a 2.75 to be eligible to challenge. A maximum of 3 courses may be challenged through PLA.

Please move to Step 2- Challenge Approval

2. Challenge Approval

To seek challenge approval, please submit a cover letter explaining how your professional qualifications match the course you're hoping to challenge. A copy of your resume should also be included, and you should e-mail both documents to priorlearning@odu.edu

Note- if you're trying to challenge multiple courses, a separate cover letter for each course is needed.

WARNING: Don't forget, you CANNOT challenge a course if a CLEP/DSST exam exists, you already attempted the course, or if it's a special case as outlined in "1. How to Challenge". If unsure about whether a class can be challenged, please contact the PLA office before writing your cover letter(s).

Please move to Step 3- Approved/Disapproved Challenges

3. Approved/Disapproved Challenges

After receiving your cover letter(s) and resume, Prior Learning will go to the appropriate department and advocate that you be allowed to challenge. If approved, the faculty will tell us what assessment method they will use, and that information will be conveyed to you. You would then fill out our intake form, we will bill your account, and you would complete you challenge. If disapproved, the process is over and you would then go take the class.

Please move to Step 4- End of Process

4. End of Process

After completing your challenge, the faculty will inform us whether you have passed. If you have, Prior Learning will notify you, and you'll receive an XP on your transcript. As previously mentioned, this doesn't count towards your GPA, institutional credit, writing requirement, and will not transfer out of ODU. If you fail, it will not appear any place, but you do not receive a refund and you cannot challenge the course again.