Chatham University

Graduate Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Program

Degree–seeking Chatham University graduate students may earn a maximum of 20% of their program requirements through PLA and transfer courses. PLA credit may be awarded either through the development of a portfolio or by attaining a passing score on a challenge exam. All requests for PLA credit must be made in writing to the appropriate program director prior to matriculation into the Chatham University graduate program. Any PLA credit assessed will incur a fee in the amount of 50% of the graduate per–credit tuition rate. Students will be billed at the time that credit is awarded. The awarding of credit for prior learning occurs upon review of a successful portfolio or other appropriate means and does not coincide with the scheduled offering of a course. Some courses may be exempt from PLA credit. Please consult with each program director or the Coordinator of Prior Learning Assessment for a complete list.

How can Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credit contribute to my educational goals at Chatham University?
Chatham University recognizes that prior learning may provide a knowledge base equivalent to graduate–level learning outcomes. As such, degree–seeking graduate students have an opportunity to be awarded academic credit for graduate –level knowledge gained prior to matriculating at Chatham University. Learning acquired from employment, job training, independent study, open courseware, volunteer and civic duties, military service and travel are just some examples to contemplate when considering prior learning credit. Accordingly, students can potentially earn a maximum of 20% of their program credit towards their degree and through PLA narratives or exams.
What is a PLA narrative?
Chatham University’s PLA is meant to assist graduate degree-seeking students in identifying areas of learning by utilizing course–specific learning outcomes that correspond to targeted courses offered at Chatham University. Prior learning narratives consist of written descriptions along with supporting documentation that demonstrate a student’s proficiency in all of the learning outcomes of the targeted Chatham courses.
Who is eligible for the portfolio development program?
Students must be registered as a degree-seeking graduate student and have the permission of their Office of PLA and their Program Director.
How do I begin the PLA process?
You must contact the Office of Prior Learning Assessment and your academic advisor. Together, you will clarify your program requirements and identify courses from Chatham University’s catalogue that are viable alternatives for your PLA pursuits.
How many credits can be earned through portfolio development?
Degree–seeking graduate students may earn a maximum of 20% of their program credits which can include credits awarded through the PLA Program.
What courses are eligible for inclusion in my portfolio?
This answer varies based on your program requirements and credits transferred from other institutions.
How long do I have to complete my PLA narrative?
If you are applying for 3 credits through the narrative process, you can anticipate 45 days for the completion and submission of your narrative. Once the narrative is complete, faculty members in the appropriate discipline evaluates it and determine the number of credits to be awarded to the student.
How will my narrative be evaluated?
Chatham University faculty members will evaluate your portfolio on your ability to articulate your learning as it relates to the specific outcomes of each targeted course. PLA credits are awarded only to satisfy existing course outcomes, and all outcomes within a course must be satisfied to earn credit for the course. No partial credit for a course will be awarded. As per Chatham University policy, there is no guarantee that credits assessed will result in credits awarded.
When will I receive my results?
Your narrative will be evaluated by faculty from the appropriate departments for each course. Evaluations are typically performed within 30 days of your submission. The awarding of credit for prior learning occurs upon review of a successful narrative or other appropriate means and does not coincide with the scheduled offering of a course.
Do I have any recourse if I do not agree with the evaluator’s results?
If you do not agree with the results of an assessment, you should request a meeting with the Director of PLA and your Program Director to review the evaluator’s comments. You may request a review by the appropriate dean; however, the student may not submit additional materials at the time of the second review.
How will I receive my assessment results?
You will receive notification from the Office of Prior Learning Assessment along with a summary sheet listing the credits awarded for each course with the evaluator’s comments.
How will I be billed for my PLA credits?
Fees for credits earned through PLA are charged at a significantly reduced rate relative to Chatham University’s graduate tuition rate. When you submit your portfolio for review, billing to your student account will be initiated at the rate of 50% of the graduate tuition rate. Students are billed at the completion of the review.

Please contact the Director of Academic Support and Prior Learning Assessment with any additional questions or to explore your eligibility for portfolio development as a means of earning credit:

Deborah Prise
Director of Academic Support and Prior Learning Assessment
Chatham University
Coolidge Hall- Room 235A