Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) helps undergraduate students get college credit for some types of learning acquired outside of formal college classrooms and prior to enrolling at Goddard College.


SB Sowbel
APL Coordinator
800.468.4888, ext. 215


Admissions Office

What are the advantages of doing APL?

You can save money and move more quickly towards graduation if you are awarded college-level credits through APL.  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.

Who is eligible to do APL?

Any student who has fewer than 75 credits and who is enrolled in an undergraduate academic program at the College.

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 through APL if your learning meets the criteria for college-level credit and fits into your overall goals and degree plan for graduation.

*equivalent to three full-time Goddard semesters

What kinds of learning can I use for APL 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 college course descriptions. Some examples of learning that students at Goddard have documented for APL credit include:

  • 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

Can I graduate with only APL credits?

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

*Or equivalent if enrolled less than full-time.

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. To do so, requires the Program Director, Faculty Advisor, and APL Advisor agreement 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:

  • describable
  • generally applicable (beyond yourself)
  • intentional (not accidental)
  • combines theory with practice
  • verifiable through evaluation and documentation
  • is learning beyond learning that is “common to all”
  • fits with your educational goals and Goddard program

APL is a two-step process that is often completed over two semesters. Some of the process takes place at the residency that starts the semester 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 the residency, 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.

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.

  • 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 current passions and goals, not look backward
  • Love the Goddard experience and do not want to hurry the process
  • Want to focus on senior study research
  • Extra work on top of a semester’s work
  • Too much writing