What is Prior Experiential Learning?

Prior Experience Learning (PEL) allows students to earn credit for skills gained during the course of their professional careers through documented evidence that outlines the work they have done and what they have learned on the job.

IAU allows students to receive college credit through portfolio development for prior learning experiences that do not have a standardized mechanism for college credit evaluation (e.g. external standardized credit-by-exam, articulated licensure, or certification), in accordance with guidelines established by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Through what students have done and what they have learned, they can show what they know and earn credit for it!


California Code of Regulations

As defined by the CCR Division 7.5 Private Postsecondary Education, §70000

(t) “Prior experiential learning” or “college level learning experience” means learning of a postsecondary nature as documented learning from a related profession, college level equivalent tests, military training or other college level equivalent experience.


Prior Experiential Learning Credit Award Policy

IAU shall grant credit to a student for Prior Experiential Learning (PEL) that is equivalent to a college or university level of learning. The learning experience must demonstrate a balance between theory and practice. The credit awarded for the prior learning experience directly relates to the student’s degree program and is applied in satisfaction of some of the degree requirements. PEL credit is not awarded for non-degree programs. PEL Portfolio may be submitted anytime during the student’s degree program. PEL Portfolios are not acceptable before being officially admitted or during the semester of intended graduation. PEL credit awarded during a particular academic term does not count towards meeting enrollment requirements.


Documentation of Assessment

PEL for which credit is sought shall be documented by the student in writing. PEL shall be assessed by subject matter expert (SME) faculty qualified in that specific subject area who shall ascertain to what college or university level learning the student’s prior experience is equivalent and how many credits toward a degree may be granted for that experience. The SME faculty assessing the prior learning shall prepare a written report indicating all of the following, including but not limited to:

  1. Documentation of the nature of the PEL.
  2. The bases for determining that the PEL is equivalent to college or university level learning and demonstrates a balance between theory and practice.
  3. The bases for determining to what college or university level the experience is equivalent and the proper number of credits to be awarded toward the degree for that experience.


Review of PEL Assessment

IAU’s Chief Academic Officer (CAO) and/or Program Chairs are responsible for the review of SME faculty determinations regarding the award of credit for PEL. The aforementioned designated officials shall document IAU’s periodic review of SME faculty evaluations to ensure that the SME faculty’s written assessments and awards of credit comply with BPPE CCR 7.5 Article 2 §71770 and that IAU’s policies are consistent. The PEL Committee oversees the integrity of the PEL policy and procedure.


PEL Assessment Fee

PEL assessment is subject to an assessment fee. The amount of credit awarded for PEL shall not be related to the amount charged to the student for the PEL Portfolio assessment process. See Schedule of Fees for current fee.


Maximum PEL Credit Awarded


Undergraduate Program

First 60 credits

Of the first 60 semester credits awarded a student in an undergraduate program, no more than 15 semester credits may be awarded for PEL.

Second 60 credits

Of the second 60 semester credits (i.e., credits 61–120) awarded a student in an undergraduate program, no more than 15 semester credits may be awarded for PEL.


Graduate Program

First 30 credits

Of the first 30 semester credits awarded a student in a graduate program, no more than 6 semester credits may be awarded for PEL.

Second 30 credits

Of the second 30 semester credits (i.e., credits 31–60) awarded a student in a graduate program, no more than 3 semester credits may be awarded for PEL.

After 60 credits

No credit for PEL may be awarded after a student has obtained 60 semester credits in a graduate program.


PEL Assessment Process

Assessment by portfolio is a process through which a student documents that college-level learning experiences have been obtained through non-college experiences. Portfolio assessment may result in the award of credit for specific IAU courses within a student’s program. A non-refundable PEL Portfolio Assessment fee is assessed for review of the portfolio.


Review the Policy and Process

  1. Student reviews the PEL assessment procedure for a summary of the process steps.
  2. Student confirms they are enrolled in a degree-seeking program at IAU.
  3. Student possesses a minimum of three (3) years professional experience in the area for which they are seeking PEL credit.
  4. Student reviews sample PEL portfolio.

Request the PEL Worksheet 

  1. Student submits a PEL Request. A separate PEL Request must be submitted for each course that a student seeks to fulfill with PEL credit.
  2. Student provides name, SID#, program, and course to which they are applying to receive PEL credit. If unsure of course TYPE, student must contact an academic advisor.
  3. ACD staff provides the student the PEL Worksheet.

Student Completes Worksheet and Submits PEL Portfolio 

  1. Student completes the required PEL Worksheet.
  2. Student types on the Gdoc and provides as much information and detail as possible.
  3. Student finalizes the PEL Portfolio by inserting all documentation sources (evidence of experience) and combines all documentation into 1 PDF file to submit, including payment receipt. See Schedule of Fees for current fee.
  4. Student submits PEL Portfolio to pel@iaula.edu.
  5. ACD staff confirms to student whether the PEL Portfolio is complete and accurate, payment is paid, etc. NOTE: Receipt of PEL portfolio does not mean that applicant has earned the credit.

Credit Awarded/Rejected 

  1. Within 2 weeks, the student shall receive a response.
  2. If PEL credit is rejected, reason shall be stated. Student will have an opportunity to resubmit within 2 weeks. No additional fee payment is required for resubmission. Resubmissions post 2 weeks will not be entertained.
  3. If PEL credit is awarded for the applied course,
    • Academic staff shall notify REG.
    • REG shall input the results so that the full credit is reflected on the student’s transcript and is reflected as PEL.