What is Prior Learning?

College-level learning acquired through non-college experience is called prior learning. Credit is not granted for the experiences you have had, but rather for the learning that has resulted from those experiences. Students cannot use Prior Learning Assessment credit to replace an unsatisfactory grade in their GPA. However, students who attempt and pass a form of Prior Learning Assessment credit may still use this satisfactory credit to meet program, degree, and graduation requirements. NKU Prior Learning Assessment credit will only be granted for students who have enrolled at NKU.

Listed below are the available Credit for Prior Learning options at NKU. 

American Council on Education Non-Collegiate Sponsored Instruction (ACE)

Credit may be awarded based on educational programs offered by many large corporations or nonacademic institutes. Only programs approved and recommended by the American Council on Education will be considered for credit. Students may request evaluation of credit by sending the ACE transcript "Registry of Credit Recommendations" and appropriate course outline(s) to Kim McCoy. 

ACE Registry and Transcript System

Northern Kentucky University
Attn: Kim McCoy
210 University Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099


Industry Credentials

We award credit for the passage of certain professional licensure examinations in fields like Nursing, Respiratory Care, Business, and Radiology. The list below shows the current Industry Credentials accepted at NKU. Please click the links to show the certifications accepted by NKU, the minimum score, the semester credit hours earned with that score, and the equivalent NKU courses.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)
National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC)
Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB)
National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

Please click the below link to start the industry credential verifying process. 

Industry Credential Review

Students who have earned advanced credentials through experiential learning and completion of a "Health Care Industry Standard Examination" may be able to earn college credit, if they have not already earned this credit through transfer work. Please contact the Health Science Program Director if you have questions about eligibility.

If you have an Industry Credential that you believe should be evaluated for credit that is not on the list above, please contact Kim McCoy at mccoyk8@nku.edu or (859) 392-2400

Military Credit

Courses approved and recommended by the American Council of Education's publication, Guide to Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Forces will be considered for credit at NKU.  A maximum of 32 semester hours may be earned upon submission of an official military transcript. For more information, please visit the Military Credit Evaluation website

Portfolio Credit

The NKU portfolio program is course specific. If you have prior learning that is equivalent to the learning outcomes for a specific undergraduate course, you may apply for credit for that course by developing a portfolio. A portfolio is a set of written documents (and in some cases, oral supplements) that demonstrate experiential learning equivalent to the learning objectives of a specific course. For each portfolio attempted, the student will work with a faculty evaluator who will determine whether the portfolio and the student’s experience meet the learning objectives of a specific course. Credit is granted upon recommendation of the faculty evaluator with approval from the appropriate department chair and dean. 

How to apply for Portfolio Credit:

To determine a student's candidacy for Portfolio, a writing sample will need to be collected, as well as a current resume. The writing sample should be a 2 page document that details how the student believes they have the experience that has led to learning in this area and can produce documents and research to prove that they have met the learning outcomes for the course.  Students will need to fill out the Portfolio Application and will be asked to upload their resume and writing sample.  After receipt of these items, students will be contacted within 7-10 business days as to the status of their application. 

Portfolio FAQ


NKU accepts an array of credit-by-examinations. From Advanced Placement to College Level Examination Program (CLEP), we have over 60 course equivalencies in areas like Informatics, Construction Management, Business, Foreign Language, History, English, and Natural Sciences.

Click on the below links to get more information on the Credit-By-Exams accepted at NKU.



Credit for Prior Learning Exam (CPLE)

Advanced Placement (AP)

International Baccalaureate (IB)

World Language Incentive Program (WLIP)

The World Language Incentive Program (WLIP) is intended to attract superior foreign language students and potential foreign language majors to Northern Kentucky University and to reward those highly qualified students who are able and willing to begin their language study at NKU at a level beyond the initial (101) course in the language sequence. For more information, please visit the WLIP website