PLA Prior Learning Assessment Guide

Northwestern Christian University 

Founded in 1980, over 39 years ago, in the United States, NCU has established over a thousand independent NCU branches worldwide

“Your PLA Portfolio”


   Project Time Requirement: 1-4 weeks maximum


 NCU Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Outline For Preparation of Your NCU/PLA Portfolio:

A very simple process, just gather items as stated below or even write essays from memory of your life’s learning experiences. You are expected to complete your PLA within 30-days.

  1. Write one page essays based on your life’s learning experiences
  2. Write one 2-3 page essay on a book selected by you, specific to your major, you can locate the book for free on or provide your own book.

Gather all life/ educational documentation in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, award letters, Military DD-214, Citations, Job descriptions, Promotions, News articles, college / university transcripts, if available, for credit recognition. Credit hours from courses on your transcripts will be counted separately. In addition to course credits earned at other colleges and universities, your PLA assessment by life experience essay and documentation summary, will be recognized in your total prior learning assessment credit count. Credits earned by PLA assessment are used in combination with your transfer college/ university credits as total credits. One essay including documentation summary, provides details for 3 credits of education related life experience.

Each essay is a valuable document equivalent to a 3 credit hour course. 30- one page essays totaling 90 credit hours, will be required for your 120 credit hour Bachelor degree along with your Thesis.  *10- PLA essays totaling 30 credit hours will be an option for your Master’s or Doctoral program along with your Thesis or Dissertation.

IMPORTANT: Some students earn multiple NCU degrees; Once you complete a PLA assessment and credits have been granted for your degree program, You can not complete additional PSA portfolios for additional degree program credits.

Documentation Summary should be included as a conclusion to each essay:    

A documentation summary is written at the conclusion of each essay to review any supporting evidence for the experience described in the essay. Certificates, awards, letters of recognition etc should be mentioned. *Your Christian word of honor will be acceptable for description of documentation when physical copies are not available for placement in the final documentation section of the PLA portfolio. However, transcripts are required to support any prior college or university course credits. However, prior college or university education is not a requirement for a Bachelor degree.


Northwestern Christian University

PLA Guide  For Prior Learning Assessment Credit



NCU Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Outline For Preparation of Your PLA Portfolio:

  1. List all employment positions, job title, date and place of employment
  2. List all schools that you have attended and dates of graduation. 
  3. List all diplomas you have been awarded. 
  4. List all advanced degrees that you have been awarded 
  5. List all certifications that you have earned
  6. List all seminars or non school classes that you have attended 
  7. List any special training that you have attended 
  8. List any on the job trainings and dates of fulfillment 
  9. List public speaking events 
  10. How many church meetings have you presided over as a preacher 
  11. How many church meetings have you served in as a teacher 
  12. Have you served as a department head at work or at church 
  13. List military training and experience 
  14. List all awards and commendations not already mentioned 
  15. List your special skills or areas of personal
  16. List your hobbies, sports, passions
  • Bachelor Program: Write 30-essays of which 29 are 1-page descriptive essays relating to experiences based on multiple topics related to any of the items listed in;  1-16 above.  *One- 2-3 page essay on a book selected by you, specific to your major is required as one of the 30-essays, you can locate the book for free on or provide your own book. Total 30 essays required.
  • Optional PLA for: Master’s and Doctorate Programs: Write 10-essays of which 9 are ONE page descriptive essays relating to experiences, activities, accomplishments etc. based the items listed as;  1-16 above.  *One – 2-3 page essay on a book selected by you, specific to your major, is also required as part of the 10 essay total. You can locate the book for free on or provide your own book. Total 10 essays required.
  • All listed items above within the 1-16 list, when expanded, relate to far more than 29 experiences, activities or accomplishments that you may have had during your life.. This is well in access of 10-30 activities or accomplishments to be reported on in your essay descriptions.
  • Even so, you should not feel confined to or limited by the 1-16 items listed above. You can use other experiences from life (beyond the above list) as a basis for essays as well. You may have experiences not relative to the above list. *Do not be limited by this suggestive list.

Bachelor degree PLA and Thesis credits:

Understand that you are being credited for your valuable life/ learning experience which shows both acquired and applied knowledge. The essay is only a means to represent your valuable lifetime learning experience.  Therefore, 3 credit hours are granted for each reflective essay representing your acquired knowledge though experience. Therefore it is not the essay that is worth the 3 credits, it is the valuable experience reported on through the essay that holds such value.

Bachelor Degree Credits

PLA/ Prior Learning Assessment based on 30-essays X 3 cr. hrs. =       90 Credits

Bachelor Thesis showing comprehensive knowledge of your major =   30 Credits

Total Bachelor Degree Program Credits                                                      120 Credits

Master’s Degree Credits    *PLA is Optional for Extra Credits Only

*PLA not allowed if completed for another degree program.

PLA/ Prior Learning Assessment based on 10-essays X 3 cr. hrs. =          30 Credits

Master’s Thesis showing comprehensive knowledge of your major =      30 Credits

Total Master’s Degree Program Credits                                                           60 Credits

Doctorate Degree Credits     *PLA is Optional for Extra Credits Only

PLA/ Prior Learning Assessment based on 10-essays X 3 cr. hrs. =          30 Credits

Dissertation showing comprehensive knowledge of your major =             30 Credits

Total Doctorate Degree Program Credits                                                         60 Credits


PLA INSTRUCTIONS:  Prepare your PLA Portfolio

PLA: Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio * 3- parts: Title Page, Essays, and Supporting Documents

I. Create a Microsoft Word doc. with a tile page.    TITLE:  PLA Prior Educational Assessment Portfolio.  Please not; Bachelor-Master’s or Doctorate after title

a. Below title, enter the following:

b. Your name

c. Your e-mail address

d. Your home address

e. Date of Completion / Submission of PLA

II. Write a short essay (one page or less) describing your performance and knowledge related to each item that you have answered above as numbered in your PLA Outline above.

  • Also include a short essay for each certificate, award, diploma, degree, commendation, citation etc.) The more essays that you write will reflect in more credit being approved toward your degree program. *Save as a Microsoft WORD doc.
  • Bachelor degree program:  30 PLA essays X 3 credits = 90 cr. hrs.
  • Master’s and Doctorate programs:  10 PLA essays V 3 credits = 30 cr. hrs.                *See Course requirements page for details.

III. If you have any supporting documents, certificates, letters of appreciation, diplomas. etc. you can scan them and attach to your portfolio. *This is not mandatory. We trust you as a servant of the Lord that your statements within your essays are true. However, if you have supporting documents you can include them at your option.

*Organize Title page, essays and scanned documentation; letters of recognition, certificates, diplomas, award letters etc., this is your PLA portfolio. Then send your portfolio, by e-mail attachment, to: Northwestern Christian University at:  *Save a copy for your personal records.

“Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman who need not be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth”.  II Timothy 2:15


Your assessment will be graded Pass / Fail within 7-10 business days and you will be informed by e-mail of your approved credits which may be applied to your NCU degree program immediately.

* Note:  It is a simple process to save essay files to folders daily and then to arrange into a Word doc. or PDF file for your PLA Portfolio at completion of all essays.  However, if you are not computer savvy, just ask a friend or family member to assist you.

Happy Studies!

Congratulations on your progress toward your degree.

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