Earn College Credit for Your Work Experience

If you have been working in a professional area for several years, you have gained valuable and meaningful knowledge and experience. With the Lamar University Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences online program, you can turn those years of work experience into college credit while you continue to work.

How to Earn Experiential Credit

In order to earn academic credit for work experience, students must complete three prerequisite courses: both English composition courses — ENGL 1301 Composition I and ENGL 1302 Composition II, or their equivalents — and AASC 3301 Lifelong Learning and Portfolio Development, an essential course laying the foundation for the program of study by leading the student to: establish academic, personal, and professional goals for degree completion; introduce students to the portfolio process; and help students to improve their abilities to think critically and to communicate more effectively.

After meeting the prerequisites, students may then enroll in AASC 3102 Narrative for Prior Experiential and Technical Credit. This guided eight-week course is designed to provide students the opportunity to prove experience-based, college-level learning gained through work/life experience and, thus, attempt to earn academic credit for that learning. You can find out more information on the BAAS degree website.

Choosing a Topic

Eileen Burch, a senior academic advisor for the Lamar University BAAS program, says that narrative subject areas range broadly but they have to be of an academic or professional nature. Burch explains “Usually these students are already in a career field, but they don’t have any coursework to back it up. What they do have is all this relevant work experience.”

Another consideration to keep in mind is that you cannot have six or more academic credit hours in the subject area of your narrative. If, for example, you write about chemistry, the maximum number of chemistry credits you can have on your transcript is five.

How Does This Experiential Credit Work?

Experiential credit hours function as transfer credits because they represent knowledge that students bring with them to a degree program — knowledge they demonstrate through the narrative paper. Although students must select an academic subject area (i.e., English, Chemistry, Management, Education, Kinesiology, Marketing, Computer Science, etc.), Lamar University does not grant course-to-course credit. Prior Experiential Learning Credit (PELC) is awarded in a “block” and applies (to the transcript) as transfer credit. As transfer credit, PELC/TLC credit does not apply toward a student's 30-hour residency requirement.

“It’s a writing-intensive course, and it is recommended that the course is taken by itself,” says Burch. “Students have the opportunity to be awarded up to 24 hours of credit. Our experience is the more bogged down a student is, the less time they have to write it, and then they get less credit.”

Students may receive credit as one, or a combination, of three designations: PELC Upper (3000-4000 level elective hours), PELC Lower (1000-2000 level elective hours), and/or TLC (Technical, thus 1000-2000 level elective hours). The maximum PELC Upper a student may earn is 12 hours.

“Some students write the narrative and get zero credit, some students write the narrative and get all the credit. It really depends on what they know about the subject area and how well they can communicate it,” Burch explains.

How Long Is the Paper?

Because there are up to 24 credit hours up for grabs, the assignment is intensive; it’s not a typical undergraduate paper. Some narratives are 60 pages or longer. Burch says that the length varies based on the student’s writing style and the subject matter.

Does Military Service Count as Credit?

Lamar University is a military-friendly school, and it offers military service members and veterans from any branch the opportunity to earn credit for their experience.

Ashley Sheehan, director of student services for LU Online, explains, “The military experience is calculated by the American Council on Education (ACE). It comes in as a transcript. So students do gain credit for experience, but it is determined by ACE.”

The ACE website provides a checklist and other information about its policies and how to gain college credit for your military service.

Learn more about the Lamar University online BAAS program.


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