Prior Learning Assessment Certificate Program


The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Certificate Program, offered by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), is the only certification program for prior learning assessment practitioners and administrators in the United States. The online program is comprised of four workshops designed to assist you in developing or improving your institution's portfolio assessment program using CAEL's proven standards. During each workshop, you participate in a series of structured activities that use both online and off-line materials. You'll work with a learning group for discussions and activities, and each group is assigned an online consultant to facilitate learning and provide feedback.

For More Information, Contact:

Janie Rollinson
  • Email:
  • Phone: (312) 362-5792
  • FAX: (312) 362-8764

Who Should Attend

  • Adult learning practitioners
  • Faculty and administrators in higher education
  • Professional association education developers
  • Employees of institutions interested in developing a professional portfolio assessment system


The online program will help you:
  • Learn the principles of experiential learning and its value for adults
  • Understand and apply the steps and procedures in the PLA process
  • Identify the links between experience and learning and determine college-level learning gained from experience
  • Discriminate between college-level and pre-college-level learning
  • Learn the history and development of prior learning assessment
  • Apply principles of best practice in prior learning assessment
  • Use administrative principles of prior learning assessment within the context of your institution
  • Articulate the value of prior learning assessment to various audiences


Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
The Prior Learning Assessment Certificate Program is offered in partnership with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
CAEL is a pioneer in the field of Prior Learning Assessment. In 1974, CAEL took the lead in articulating the philosophical basis for PLA as well as developing a set of policies and procedures for performing it in an academically sound manner. CAEL is a leader in training adult learning practitioners and preparing institutions to provide quality prior learning assessment programs. Today, in response to the unique needs of adult learners, colleges nationwide conduct prior learning assessment and use the CAEL models as their guide to quality assurance.

Program Contents

The Prior Learning Assessment Certificate Program is comprised of four online workshops.
PLA Workshop 1: This introductory workshop is intended for those with little or no experience with PLA concepts or practices. In this workshop you will become familiar with the language of PLA, a set of standards for the assessment of learning and the procedural steps to run an assessment process.
PLA Workshop 2: This workshop builds on the fundamentals of PLA covered in Workshop 1, including how to apply prior learning assessment principles to the series of decisions that make up assessment activity.
PLA Workshop 3: This workshop focuses on quality assurance and the integration of activities, policies and procedures that ensure that a program's practices are congruent with its goals.
PLA Workshop 4: This workshop focuses on additional quality assurance and the integration of activities, policies and procedures that ensure that a program's practices are congruent with its goals.
Upon completing the first two workshops, you will be awarded a Certificate of Achievement in Prior Learning Assessment. If you successfully complete all four facilitated workshops, you will be granted a Certificate of Mastery in Prior Learning Assessment.

CAEL International Conference 2004

View an Adobe PDF version of a presentation on the Prior Learning Certificate Program, originally presented by Morry Fiddler and James Moore at the CAEL International Conference November 12th, 2004. The presentation highlights the online design of the PLA Certificate Program and provides information on who has benefited in the past.
Click on your preference to view the presentation:

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for DePaul University Continuing and Professional Education departmental student policies.
What are the system requirements this program?
The program is delivered online with some offline assignments.
You will need a computer (IBM Compatible PC or Apple Macintosh) with:
The program is taught asynchronously - you can take it anywhere, anytime you have access to the above. However, there is a weekly schedule you are expected to keep.
Is there a required text?
Assessing Learning
  • Yes. Assessing Learning, 3rd edition [2017] by the Council For Adult Experiential Learning (CAEL),¬†Donna Younger,¬†and Catherine Marineau will be mailed to you as you start the program.
What is the weekly time commitment for the workshops?
On average you should spend five to seven hours weekly on the workshops. The best way to do this is to spread the hours over the week, perhaps half an hour each evening or during lunch, then longer at the weekend.


Online registration is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Add the course you are interested in to your shopping cart and proceed to checkout. Registration is also available via phone, fax or mail. An Adobe Acrobat PDF of the registration form is provided for your convenience.

Course Availability

Program Courses
Required Courses
PLA Workshop 1
PLA Workshop 2
PLA Workshop 3
PLA Workshop 4

Required Fees Price
Registration - This program is NOT FREE. Students must pay for each component course.$0.00