Academic Credit for Prior Learning

Learning takes place in a variety of ways, and often outside a traditional college or university. To receive credit for this type of learning, you can provide documentation that demonstrates your skills and knowledge. We then review your documentation with the goal of awarding you college credit that applies to one of our degrees or certificates. This may significantly decrease the amount of time and money you spend taking classes.

Based on the standards set by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, we review four types of Prior Learning as indicated below. The process to award credit is different for each type.

What You Need to Know

  • All students must first apply for General Admission to the college.
  • New students must register for their first quarter classes. This does not apply to Veterans, Active Duty Military, and students applying to Selective Admission programs.
  • Credits we award under Prior Learning Credit may not transfer to another college or university. Check with the school you plan to transfer to.
  • Awarded Prior Learning credits do not count towards the college residency requirement – meaning the number of credits you must take at Bellevue College to receive a degree or certificate.
  • 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.

Paper documents should be mailed to:

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

Electronic transcripts and documents should be emailed directly from the college you attended to: evaluations@bellevuecollege.edu

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. The college charges a per-class fee for credits awarded under Prior-Experiential Learning.

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.
  • HS+ 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 HS+ Office to establish the requirements needed to reach their academic goals.

Request Form: Academic Credit for Prior Learning – Prior Experiential


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
  • National Health Certifications
  • Joint Services Transcript (JST)
  • 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 to complete your degree or certificate. The college charges a per-class fee for credits awarded under Extra-institutional Learning. The fee does not apply to the review of JST transcripts.

Credit by Testing

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

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

The college charges a per-test fee for credits awarded under Credit by Testing.

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.

Request Form: Academic Credit for Prior Learning – Testing


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.

The college charges a per-class fee for each challenge exam.

Important Information:

  • The college does not provide the course challenge option for all classes offered. Check with the appropriate academic department/program chair to determine if a desired course has a challenge option.
  • The college places no limit on the number of credits awarded under this option. However, academic departments or programs may place restrictions on the amount of credit awarded.
  • You may not use the course challenge option for a course you previously registered for, or audited.
  • To receive credit, you must achieve a grade of Satisfactory “S” in the course challenge.
  • If you attempt but fail to achieve a grade of “S”, you may not repeat the challenge.

Request Form: Academic Credit for Prior Learning – 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 3, 2020