Advanced Standing / Prior Learning Assessments (PLA)

When applicable, Tidewater Community College shall award prior learning assessment credit for the Advanced Placement Program (AP); the College Level Examination Program (CLEP); Challenge Examinations; the International Baccalaureate (IE) Program; the Cambridge Advance Program; other placement examinations; training provided by non-collegiate institutions, such as armed forces and service schools, professional certification, and experiential learning. PLA credit shall be awarded as determined by qualified faculty members at the college and according to procedures and standards approved by those qualified faculty ensuring that assessment procedures are appropriate for the credit awarded. Credit is awarded only as required by a student’s degree program.

Credit by Standardized Examinations

The college awards credit for acceptable scores, in accordance with VCCS Policy or the College Board as applicable, for the Advanced Placement Program (AP), the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), the International Baccalaureate (IE) Program, the Cambridge Advance Program, Excelsior College/UEXCEL, DANTES DSST, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language, the Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT), and other approved third-party examinations.

Requests by students can be made through submission of an Evaluation of Previous Educational Experiences form and official test scores mailed directly from the testing agency to:

Office of the College Registrar
Tidewater Community College
P.O. Box 9000
Norfolk, VA 23509-9000

If the standardized examination has not been reviewed previously for credit by TCC’s faculty, the request and supporting documents must be received by the College Registrar by August 31 (for a decision by December 15) or by December 31 (for a decision by May 15).

Evaluation and Administration of Credit through Training by Non-collegiate Institutions

The college awards credit for applicable armed service school experiences, non-collegiate institutions, and earned professional certifications/licensures. Where applicable, credit shall be awarded in accordance with The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT) or the ACE Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services. Only those credits required by the student’s degree program will be awarded.

Requests by students for the evaluation of ACE or other transcripts can be made through submission of an Application for Credit by Exam or Previous Non-Collegiate Training and official transcripts mailed directly from the agency and/or other supporting documents (e.g., photocopy of licensure or certification) to:

Office of the College Registrar
Tidewater Community College
P.O. Box 9000
Norfolk, VA 23509-9000

If the experience or training has not been previously evaluated by the faculty for credit, the request and supporting documents must be received by the College Registrar by August 31 (for a decision by December 15) or by December 31 (for a decision by May 15).

Experiential Learning (Portfolio) Credit

Experiential Learning Credit is a means of achieving credit through occupational experience determined by the college to be equivalent to the course(s) to be exempted. Students may obtain credit for experiential learning through work, volunteer activities, and participation in civic assignments; travel; independent study; and similar life experiences that are demonstrated through the submission of a portfolio that documents course relevancy.

Experiential Learning (Portfolio) Credit

Experiential Learning Credit is a means of achieving credit through occupational experience determined by the college to be equivalent to the course(s) to be exempted. Students may obtain credit for experiential learning through work, volunteer activities, and participation in civic assignments; travel; independent study; and similar life experiences that are demonstrated through the submission of a portfolio that documents course relevancy. Except under exceptional and approved circumstances, portfolio-based credit for prior experiential learning may be awarded for no more than 25 percent of the credit hours applied toward a degree/certificate.
A student seeking Experiential Learning Credit must do so through portfolio development and submission and should perform the following steps.

  1. Complete modules one and two of a LearningCounts course to learn more about Prior Learning (Portfolio) Assessment and to determine if this is an appropriate option for you. (The first two modules are free of charge. Students should have some experience with online learning. Students are advised to complete or have college-level English credit prior to pursuing portfolio credit as an option. )
  2. Seek advisement from a counselor or academic advisor to ensure that the course(s) for which you wish to obtain college credit are required in your curriculum and can be applied to meet curriculum requirements. If so, you will be referred to an appropriate academic dean/director who must approve your participation in the portfolio development/submission process given its appropriateness given your curriculum and academic and professional goals. Approval must be sought by the student and approved by the academic dean/director, via completion of an Application for Credit by Exam, Non-Collegiate Training, or Experiential Learning (Portfolio) form, and forwarded to the College Registrar’s Office.
  3. If approval to proceed is granted to by the academic dean/director, you will need to obtain the official course outline for the course that you are seeking academic credit through portfolio development/submission. Course outlines are on the TCC website at www.tcc.edu/iincurr. The learning outcomes for the course, as noted on the official course outline, are what will be used in the portfolio evaluation.
  4. Register and pay for Developing Your Portfolio for College Credit course. Students have two options for completing this course—CAEL 100, an instructor-led, six-week course, or a self-paced, do-it-yourself course. Students will also need to register and pay for the cost of portfolio assessment.  The portfolio must be submitted within six months from the date that you enroll in the portfolio development course. Please speak with an advisor at LearningCounts if you have questions about this process. Note that TCC is an AFFILIATED MEMBER OF LEARNINGCOUNTS.
  5. Once the portfolio is submitted to LearningCounts, it will be evaluated by a trained faculty assessor who will also give you feedback regarding your proposal. Portfolios with a “C” or higher are considered passing for transfer credit purposes.
  6. Order and pay for an official transcript to be sent from LearningCounts to:

    Office the College Registrar
    Tidewater Community College
    P.O. Box 9000
    Norfolk, VA 23509-9000

  7. If prior approval to obtain credit through this means was granted by an academic dean/director, credit is applicable to your curriculum, and you earned a 70 or higher on the portfolio, transfer credit will be awarded for the applicable course.

Students interested in receiving credit for Studio Arts should contact the Director of the Visual Arts Center to receive portfolio instructions.

Requests by students for the evaluation of the portfolio transcript can be made through submission of an Evaluation of Previous Educational Experiences form and official transcripts mailed directly from the agency to:

Office of the College Registrar
Tidewater Community College
P.O. Box 9000
Norfolk, VA 23509-9000

Challenge Examinations

Currently enrolled, curriculum-placed students may challenge a TCC course by taking a comprehensive examination for the course with the approval of the division dean/director and the program head/discipline faculty. Before seeking approval to take a challenge examination, a student should be prepared to show that s/he has attained knowledge and skills equivalent to established course learning outcomes. Credit may be awarded provided conditions have been met as outlined below.

Challenge Examination Procedure

  1. Student obtains permission from the discipline faculty or program head using the Application for Credit by Exam or Previous Non-Collegiate Training or Experience. A separate form is needed for each course challenged. The faculty member or program head will verify the following before granting approval:

    • The student is currently enrolled in a related academic plan and can show evidence that s/he has sufficient post-secondary background and experience to challenge the course.
    • The prefix, number, title and credits of the course being challenged are appropriate for the student's background and experience.
    • The challenged course does not duplicate previous coursework for which credit has been awarded.
    • The student has not already earned credit for a higher-level course in the same content area.
    • The student is not currently enrolled in the course and has not previously attended, failed, audited or withdrawn from the course.
    • The student has not previously attempted a challenge exam for the same course. Students who fail the challenge exam must register for the course and complete the course requirements to earn credit.
  2. Student submits the completed form and supporting documentation (e.g. resume, non-credit course syllabus/materials) to the faculty member administering the exam.
  3. The faculty member administering the exam signs the application and provides the course prefix, number, title and credits; date of the exam; and grade earned on the exam.
  4. The faculty member administering the exam submits the completed form and all supporting documentation (including the graded exam) to the appropriate academic division dean for review (see item 1 above).
  5. The academic dean signs and submits the form and supporting documentation (including the graded exam) to the Office of the College Registrar for processing and posting of credit on the transcript as appropriate.

    • Credit will be awarded only for a grade of "C" or higher.
    • Credit will be posted to the transcript as "TR" (transfer) credit
    • Credit will not be used to meet the residency requirement for graduation.
    • Credit posted applies only to the student’s current curriculum at TCC and may not be accepted in another program or by another college or university.
    • No more than 25 percent of the credit hours applied towards the major can be earned through challenge exams.