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CAEL Pathways Blog

How to Get Credit for Prior Learning in Nursing Programs

If youre ready to move to the next level of nursing in school, you may qualify for academic credit based on your experience outside a classroom.

Getting credit for prior learning can help you save time and money when you advance your nursing education. Whether youre a certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed nurse practitioner (LPN), or registered nurse (RN), you may be able to apply your knowledge and experience toward credits that can help you complete a nursing program without taking coursework on content you already know.


In a recent study, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) reported that students who received PLA credit saved nine to 14 months of study time by earning credits for about a semester of full-time study. For these students, the PLA credits translated into savings of between $1,500 and $10,200 in education costs.

While theres a practical advantage to reducing the time it takes to complete a program, this benefit may also support academic success. In the same study, 49% of adult students who received PLA credit completed their postsecondary degree or certificate, while only 27% of students who didnt receive credit achieved that goal.

When youre applying for a program and you have a lot of experience that you think is relevant, its always worth asking to see if there are ways to get credit or advanced standing based on what you already know and can do, says Becky Klein-Collins, CAELs associate vice president, Advancement and Impact.

Read more at All Nursing Schools

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