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Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Prior learning is learning gained through life or work outside of structured higher educational courses. Many people learn through their experiences in life such as those in professional endeavors (through business, the military, or other work/training experiences) or through other educational experiences (through community work, family, travel, or personal study).

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) 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 at UNG.

Veteran & Adult Learner Programs works with UNG students in regards to PLA by evaluating military transcripts, assessing ACE Credits, providing study materials for CLEP and DSST exams, and by assisting with the creation of portfolios.  

A total of forty-five (45) semester hours may be earned through any combination of credit by departmental examination, national standardized examinations, correspondence courses, extension work, advanced placement, International Baccalaureate credit and PLA by portfolio.  For more information consult the PLA Student Handbook

Joint Services Transcript (JST)

“JST is the Joint Services Transcript that has replaced the Coast Guard Institute Transcript, the Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System (AARTS) and the Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART). JST is an academically accepted document approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) to validate a service member's military occupational experience and training along with the corresponding ACE college credit recommendations.” 

The JST system is setup to send your official electronic JST to UNG once you have setup a free JST account.  UNG will only evaluate JST’s for students who are currently accepted into UNG. 

To have a UNG representative evaluate your JST follow these steps:

  1. Be accepted as an UNG student
  2. Create a JST account
  3. Request your JST to be electronically sent to UNG Dahlonega or Gainesville campus (either one will work)
  4. Go to Banner Web to request UNG review your JST
    1. Student Tab/Student Records
    2. Military Transfer Credit Request
    3. Read entire form
    4. Fill out fully and submit
  5. A Registrar's representative will evaluate your JST documents
  6. Evaluations may take up to two weeks. You will be emailed at your UNG email account with updates or a completed evaluation.  Questions?  Email
Ace Credit

The American Council on Education (ACE) is an organization that provides evaluation of programs and transcripts for training taken through specific employers, a specialized training provider or during a military career. ACE evaluations provides guidance to colleges and universities on the acceptance of credit. UNG evaluates these transcripts and honors ACE credit as appropriate for the program of study for students. 

A list of employers that participate in the ACE College Credit Recommendation Service can be found on the ACE CREDIT website. 

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) helps you receive college credit for what you already know.  CLEP exams are ninety-minutes, (except the College Composition Exam which is 120 minutes) and available in five general areas and twenty-nine subject areas.  The Testing Center coordinates the administration dates for the examinations.  The Testing Center and Veteran & Adult Learner Programs provide study guides and test preparation books for most subjects. 

View available CLEP courses.

Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST)

The Dantes Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), formerly DANTES, is a national credit by examination program recognized by the American Council on Education. DSST exams are two-hour computer-based tests available in the areas of business, physical sciences, humanities, social sciences and applied technology, and are for students interested in earning college credit for material they already know.  The Testing Center administers all DSST exams.  The Testing Center and Veteran & Adult Learner Programs provide study guides and test preparation books for most subjects. 

View available DSST

Foreign Language Achievement Testing Service (FLATS)

Students wishing to test (FL 1001, FL 1002, FL 2001, and FL 2002) in languages - see list - may use the Foreign Language Achievement Testing Service (FLATS) offered by Brigham Young University. The paper and pencil test is taken by correspondence. The test will be sent to the Testing Office where an appointment will need to be scheduled for you to be given the proctored exam. For more detailed information and cost please visit the FLATS testing web site


Students use the PLA portfolio development process to document their prior learning. This process requires students to prepare and submit a collection of documents that establish and support their claim that they have specific relevant skills, knowledge, values, attitudes, understandings, achievements, experiences, competencies, training, and certifications that align with specific course objectives. The portfolio developed in the documentation course should not only describe the relevant experience but should also identify the particular learning outcomes.

Students must also offer a critical self-assessment of what college-level learning has been acquired through selected non-traditional experience. This experience might include a variety of work, training, reading and research, civil and military service, or life learning.

Once students complete and submit the PLA portfolio, assessors will evaluate it to determine if the portfolio provides evidence which ties those skills to a specific course objective. If the portfolio does so, credit may be awarded when assessors determine that the prior learning is acceptable for credit.  A separate portfolio must be prepared for each course for which a student is seeking credit.

Detailed information concerning Prior Learning Assessment through Portfolio development can be found in the PLA Student Handbook.

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