School of Arts and Letters

Self-Acquired Competencies

Multiple terms can be used to discuss Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) or Self-Acquired Competency (SAC).  However, the currently preferred language is PLA.  Whatever terms may be used, the concept refers to learning that is gained outside a traditional academic environment.  It represents knowledge and skills that are acquired as "adults live their lives: working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and studying open source courseware."

Therefore, to earn credits through PLA, the process evaluates and assesses an individual's equivalent life-learning "for college credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education or training."

IU Southeast has entered into a partnership with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to assist students in their degree completion.  PLA credit is only applicable in the General Studies degree program.  The maximum number of credit hours that can be applied to the General Studies degree is 30 credit hours.  Students interested in PLA may log onto the CAEL website ( for information on how to develop their portfolio.  The website also contains valuable information regarding a Developing Your Portfolio (DYP) course, as well as tools for creating a portfolio.

For further information, students should contact the Manager of the General Studies degree program.

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