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Awarding of Credits Earned Through Extra-Institutional Learning to Community Colleges :

Policy/Guideline Area

Academic Policies

Applicable Divisions

Community Colleges


The purpose of this policy is to authorize each community college governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents to develop procedures for the recognition of equivalent extra-institutional learning processes that include the awarding of credit or advanced placement.


  1. Extra-Institutional or Life-long Learning
    1. The process for awarding of credits through “Extra-Institutional or Life-long Learning” by the community colleges must be in compliance with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Principles of Accreditation on Programs (reference 3.4), the Commission’s Position Statement on the “Transfer of Academic Credit,” and its policy on “The Transfer or Transcripting of Academic Credit.” (Exhibit 1)
    2. The institutional process for awarding credits through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) by TBR community colleges must be in compliance with the Recommended Standards in Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Policy and Practice of Tennessee Public Colleges and Universities (August 7, 2012). 
      1. These Standards ensure that TBR colleges will utilize best practices and provide services to students that are consistent among institutions.
      2. The Standards ensure transferability of PLA credit, include identification of types of PLA credits available, instruct campuses on the transcription of PLA credit, and establish common standards for portfolio review.
      3. The Standards are available, in their entirety, as Exhibit 1 to TBR Guideline A-030 Articulation Among Community Colleges.
    3. When awarding credit under this provision, the institution should use a recognized guide or institutional procedure for awarding the credit for extra-institutional or life-long learning. The recognized guides or institutional procedures may include, but are not limited to:
      1. American Council on Education (ACE) National Guide to Educational Credit for Training Programs.
      2. Guide to Credit by Examination.
      3. College Board Advanced Placement Program.
      4. College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
      5. Defense Subject Standardized Test (DSST) formerly DANTES.
      6. Credit by Departmental Examination. 
      7. Subject matter experts who are not members of the institution’s faculty but who evaluate extra-institutional learning at the institution’s request.
      8. Individual portfolios using the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) or other standardized guidelines authorized, in advance, by permission of the institution.
    4. When awarding credit to students who are veterans or military service members, the institution will reference the Joint Services Transcript (JST), DD-214 and/or transcripts from the Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System (AARTS), Community College of Air Force (CCAF), and Coast Guard Institute (CGI). The institution will use the American Council of Education (ACE) for awarding credit for military experience, educations, and/or training obtained during military experience. The recognized procedures include:
      1. If military experience, education, and/or training are equivalent to a course that fulfills a general education or degree program requirement, the course credit will count towards graduation. Otherwise, appropriate course credit will be granted for elective credit.
      2. Should credit not be captured through ACE recommendations, TBR institutions will offer veterans and service members an opportunity for prior learning assessment via another recognized mechanism (refer to Section C, above).
      3. Each TBR institution will provide veteran and military service members relevant information on awarding college credit for military education, experience, and/or training.
      4. Each TBR institution will maintain a set of institutional polices on the awarding of academic credit for military experience within their undergraduate catalog. The policies will include a description of the procedure for removing excessive hours applied to transcripts, which may affect student eligibility for financial aid.
    5. When utilizing published guides for extra-institutional learning, the information provided should include:
      1. course title;
      2. location of all sites where the course is offered;
      3. length in hours, days, or weeks;
      4. period during which the credit recommendation applies;
      5. purpose for which the credit was designed;
      6. learning outcomes;
      7. teaching methods, materials, and major subject areas covered; and
      8. college credit recommendations offered by categories (by level of degrees) and expressed in semester hours and subject area(s) in which credit is applicable.




T.C.A. § 49-8-203


March 2006 TBR Board Meeting; Revised September 20, 2013. Revisions approved by Board September 15, 2016; Revisions approved at Special Called Meeting May 14, 2019.