Evening & Weekend Studies

Prior Learning from Experience

Prior Learning from Experience (PLE) is the title given to Evergreen's program that supports portfolio-based prior learning assessment (PLA).

Evergreen values the experience adults bring to college. Through the PLE program, students have the opportunity to earn academic credit for knowledge acquired through life and work experience.  This is accomplished by composing a portfolio that provides evidence of college-level learning.

This video gives a brief introduction to the program.  For further information, contact the Office of Admissions, Academic Advising, or Nancy Parkes, the faculty member who teaches Writing from Life and PLE Document Writing.

The Goal: PLE Document(s)

To be awarded credit, you must develop a portfolio (called a PLE document) that demonstrates college-level learning as a result of your life and work experience.  The PLE document describes your experience, specifies the learning outcomes you have achieved, and analyzes the knowledge and skills you have gained as a result of that experience.  The PLE document contains a combination of autobiographical and expository writing and research as well as supporting documentation. 

Credit for prior learning is awarded after a faculty member evaluates the evidence presented in your completed PLE document.  Individual students may submit one or more PLE documents for assessment of prior learning.  Because of the fee structure for assessing PLE documents, it is best to structure the portfolio into a series of PLE documents with each PLE document providing evidence for up to 10 credits of prior learning. 

Students may not receive more than 30 total credits for prior learning through Evergreen's PLE program.  The actual cap on total prior learning credits depends on multiple factors including prior learning credits earned at other institutions and the degree program in which you are working. 

PLE Document Writing: Support for Writing Your PLE Document(s)

As part of the process of creating your PLE document, you can earn credit for developing your writing skills, reflecting on your learning, and working within a learning community as a peer-reviewer as you and other students work to draft your PLE documents.  You do this by taking the course titled PLE Document Writing (offered for 4, 6, or 8 credits per quarter in each quarter other than summer quarter). You may register for this course multiple times (over multiple quarters), but the total credit earned through the PLE Document Writing course is limited to 16 credits.

As a prerequisite, students interested in taking PLE Document Writing must take the 4-credit Writing from Life course (also offered each quarter other than summer quarter).  In this class, you will begin to analyze your experience and develop the skills and techniques necessary for documenting the knowledge you have gained.  Upon successful completion of Writing from Life, you can apply to be admitted to the PLE program and register for the PLE Document Writing course. You must enroll in PLE Document Writing within two years of completing Writing from Life.

Note: For the purposes of tuition and financial aid, the Writing from Life and PLE Document Writing courses are treated the same as any other course.

Costs: The PLE Document Assessment Fee

A non-refundable fee is charged per document to have a PLE document evaluated by a faculty member so that credit for prior learning can be awarded.  A maximum of 10 credits can be awarded per assessment.  For the 2014-15 academic year, that assessment fee is $651. 

Note: Assessment fees are not used in the calculation of financial aid.


  • The PLE program is only open to admitted students.
  • PLE does not award credit for any experience gained after enrollment at Evergreen, such as experience gained while on academic leave.
  • PLE credit may not duplicate credit earned for any other academic work.
  • PLE does not award credit for vocational or craft skills or self-improvement experience.
  • Academic credit applied for through certificated learning, documented participation in professional development workshops, military school or training, police or firefighter training, or real estate licensing are not applicable to PLE and will be assessed by the Office of Admissions after you are admitted to Evergreen.  Contact the Office of Admissions for more information on these options.
  • To earn a degree from Evergreen, 45 of your last 90 credits must be earned at Evergreen. Credit earned through enrollment in the Writing from Life and PLE Document Writing courses counts as credit earned at Evergreen.  However, any additional credits granted for your PLE document(s) are treated in the same way as transfer credits – they apply toward the credits needed for graduation, but they are not counted as part of the 45 Evergreen credits necessary for graduation.