Assessment of Prior Learning, or APL, is a program that helps adults get undergraduate college credit for some types of learning acquired outside of formal college classrooms and prior to enrolling in a program at Goddard College.


Jen Morin
Undergraduate Admissions Counselor
800.906.8312, ext 262


SB Sowbel
APL Coordinator
800-468-4888, ext. 215

What are the advantages of doing APL?

If you are awarded college-level credits through APL, you can save money and move more quickly towards graduation. In addition, you get an opportunity to organize and reflect upon your prior learning in a way that shows you and others all that you have accomplished, the college-level knowledge you have acquired and the skills that you can apply in other situations.

How many credits can I get through APL?

You may earn as many as 45 credit hours or the equivalent of 15 three-credit college courses (or 3 semesters) through APL if your learning meets the criteria for college-level credit and fits into your overall goals and degree plan for graduation.

Can I graduate with only portfolio credits?

No. You must complete a minimum of three full semesters (including the two upper-level, final semesters) to be eligible for graduation.

When is the best time to participate in APL?

We strongly recommend that you complete at least one semester at Goddard before taking on APL so that you feel comfortable with the Goddard process. There are rare occasions when a student, new to Goddard, takes on APL in their first semester, however, this requires that the Program Director, Faculty Advisor, and APL Advisor agree that this process supports your overall goals and degree plan.

How do I convert my prior learning into college credit?

First, think about your prior learning to see if it is 1) describable, 2) generally applicable (beyond you), 3) intentional (not accidental), 4) combines theory with practice, 5) verifiable through evaluation and documentation, 6) Is beyond learning that is “common to all,” and 6) fits with your Goddard program. If you answer yes to all these, learn more.

APL is a two-step process that is often completed over two semesters. Some of the process takes place at your on-campus residency and some of the process takes place at your home on your own time during or between your semesters.

The first part of the process is preparing the APL Petition, which outlines what you will submit in your APL portfolio. To get this started, you attend workshops at your residencies, meet with the APL Advisor, and participate in a six-week course that guides you through the design of your Petition. The APL Petition will be reviewed by your semester’s advisor to be sure it fits with your degree plan.

The second part of the process is preparing the APL Portfolio, an organized file of materials that describes your learning, gives evidence and expert testimonies of your skill and knowledge, documents the learning you have acquired through reflective and critical writing, and supporting materials. The APL Portfolio is submitted to the APL Portfolio Review Committee for the awarding of credits.

 What does it cost to do APL?

The APL process has two parts and two fees, one for the development and review of the APL Petition, another for the review of the APL Portfolio.

Prior Learning Petition
Prior Learning Portfolio
Total Cost

Does financial aid cover APL?

Yes, as long as you are enrolled during the process. You can discuss this with Goddard’s financial aid counselors at the residency to see if you need to reconfigure the numbers to add APL into your financial aid package. If you are approved to submit materials while on leave, you will need to pay out-of-pocket and can speak to Student Accounts regarding that process.

What types of learning can I use for prior learning assessment credit?

This varies from student to student. If you completed an intensive training course through a professional organization, took a large series of workshops through your employer or developed considerable knowledge and skills through self-directed study over a period of time, your learning may match course descriptions at colleges. Some examples of learning that students at Goddard have documented and requested credit for are:

  • Botany and Horticulture
  • Non-violent Communication and Education in Organizations and Schools
  • Islamic Language and Culture
  • Photography
  • Composing Music with Software
  • Heart Failure Management Education
  • Yoga Teacher Training
  • Film Studies
  • Running a Non-Profit
  • Choral Teaching and Performance
  • Teaching Creative Writing
  • Massage Therapy
  • Database Management
  • Branding for Social Justice Organizations
  • Managing a Small Business (running a day-care center, an acupuncture practice, a bakery, etc.)
  • Travel Immersion Experience in Japan

Are there any reasons NOT to do APL?

This is a great question! Here are some reasons students give for not choosing to do APL.

  • Extra work on top of a semester’s work
  • Too much writing
  • Doesn’t fit into a busy schedule of school, work, and family
  • Can’t find the materials to document the learning
  • The prior learning doesn’t meet degree requirements for graduation
  • Want to focus on present passions, not focus on the past
  • Really love the Goddard experience and do not want to hurry the process
  • Want enough time to do solid research for a senior study