Prior Learning Credit

There are many types of learning that take place outside a traditional college. We can review a wide variety of documentation that demonstrates your knowledge and award college credit. These credits can be used towards a Bellevue College degree or certificate. According to the standards set by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, we review four types of Prior Learning. The process to award credit is different for each type.

What You Need to Know

  • Awarded credits may not transfer to other colleges and universities. We make no claim regarding the transferability of Prior Learning credits.
  • One third of credits needed to complete your degree must be taken at Bellevue College. Awarded credits do not count in the one-third. They are counted as transfer credits.
  • Awarded credits must generally meet the same standards, course objectives, and learning outcomes of an equivalent course offered by the college.
  • Awarded credits are subject to review and approval by faculty.
  • If you are a new student at Bellevue College, you need to register for classes first before you submit a request. Exceptions are made for selective admissions programs and veterans/veteran’s dependents.

Paper documents should be mailed to:

Bellevue College
ATTN: Evaluations
3000 Landerholm Circle SE
Bellevue, WA 98007-6484

Electronic transcripts and documents should be emailed to:

Types of Prior Learning Credit

Prior Experiential Learning

This includes knowledge and skills acquired through experience alone. Some examples include:

  • Work experience or training
  • Self-study
  • Courses from a school that does not have regional accreditation

This type of credit is limited to 25% of your degree or certificate. Credits awarded must correspond to a course offered by Bellevue College. There is a fee to award Prior-Experiential Learning credits.

Faculty evaluate (subjectively) a compilation of work submitted in a portfolio. The college awards credit based on the following:

  • Portfolio Review (for courses numbered 100 or above)
    • Work directly with a faculty advisor to develop the requirements needed to complete a portfolio.
    • Once you develop a plan with your faculty advisor, you must pay a fee and submit the Request to Award Non-Traditional Credit form following the process indicated on the form.
    • Faculty may require you to register for a Portfolio class.
    • The Portfolio Review must demonstrate that you possess the same knowledge and skills as students who enroll in, and successfully complete the specified course.
  • HS21+ Portfolio Review (for courses numbered below the 100 level)
    • This option provides an opportunity to use prior learning, as well as courses taken in high school to earn a high school diploma.
    • Students interested in this option work directly with the HS21+ Office to establish the requirements needed to reach their academic goals.

Request Form – Prior Experiential Learning

Extra-Institutional Learning

This includes knowledge and skills that are verified by third party certifications, industry-recognized testing/training, and crosswalks. Some examples include:

  • Washington State Department of Health Certifications
  • Joint Services Transcript (JST)
  • American Council on Education (ACE) credit recommendations
  • Microsoft MOS certifications
  • Occupational Crosswalks (Police, Fire, AmeriCorps, etc.)
  • Individual industry certifications

This type of credit is limited to two-thirds of the credits needed for your degree. There is no fee charged for Extra-Institutional Learning credit. Please fill out and submit this request form to Student Central.

Request Form – Extra-Institutional Learning

Credit by Testing

This includes commonly accepted higher education equivalency exams. Examples include:

  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST)
  • Cambridge A-Level Exams

Please visit the webpage for AP, IB, and other exams for more detailed information. AP, IB, and Cambridge A-Level Exams can also be used for course placement depending upon the subject and score. There is no charge to transfer these credits.

Course Challenge

This option allows you to take an exam offered by Bellevue College to earn full credit for a course. The exam will require you to demonstrate the same knowledge and skills required by a course Bellevue College offers. Challenge exams are instructor-designed, and may not be available for all courses. You should have previous training, private study, work experience, or other qualifications indicating you have this knowledge.

Students are charged a fee to take each challenge exam.

Important Information:

  • Please check with the appropriate Instructional Department or Program Chair for exam availability. Challenge Exams are not available for all courses.
  • There is no limit on the number of credits awarded under this option. However, instructional departments/programs may place restrictions on the amount of credit awarded.
  • You may not use the course challenge option for a course you previously enrolled in or audited at Bellevue College.
  • You must earn a grade of “C” or better on the exam to get credit.
  • If you fail the course challenge exam, you cannot repeat the exam.
  • You cannot receive credit by course challenge for 100 and 200 level courses in your native language.

Request Form – Course Challenge


Do you have more questions?

You can ask a question online. A Student Central staff member will follow up with you.

Last Updated April 30, 2019