University of Southern Indiana

Credit for Prior Learning

Credit for Prior Learning through Validation


The University of Southern Indiana provides opportunities for RN students progressing toward a BSN degree to receive credit for previous professional experience.  Students may receive credit for professional certification, previous clinical experiences, and/or expertise. 


 Option 1: Validation with a nationally recognized certification.

Course-specific Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credit may be granted to undergraduate students who have successfully completed a nationally or state recognized professional certification/licensure exam. Courses eligible are NURS 307 Health Assessment, NURS 487 Leadership in Nursing and Health Care Organizations, and NURS 492 Clinical Synthesis.

NURS 307 Health Assessment – credit with two advanced life support certifications. (If you plan to pursue an MSN degree eighter in nursing education or for an advance practice role such as nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist, it is highly recommended that you take the health assessment course.)

NURS 487 Leadership in Nursing and Health Care Organizations credit with certification in one the following Nursing Executive (NE-BC) or Nursing Executive Advanced (NEA-BC) through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) or Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) through the American Organization of Nurse Executives.  Students who have completed a Baccalaureate or master’s degree in Health Administration, Business Administration, or Public Administration are also eligible.

NURS 492 Clinical Synthesis – credit with certification in national board certification or specialized clinical nursing practice such as case management, oncology nursing, critical care nursing, etc.


Option 2: Professional portfolio review

Under limited circumstances, the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) policy allows for granting of undergraduate credit for previous experiential learning in the field of the student’s profession/degree program. An approved professional portfolio can result in course specific credit (example: a registered nurse who has experience as a nurse manager may qualify for credit in a Leadership in Nursing and Healthcare Organization course). Most common courses that are able to be met with portfolios are NURS 487 Leadership in Nursing and Health Care Organizations and NURS 492 Clinical Synthesis. Other nursing courses would be subject to review by the program chair for eligibility. 

Students must have at least 3 years full time RN experience and at least 2 full years of experience in the specialty area which the student is attempting to validate. The portfolio must include a curriculum vitae or resume and demonstration of attainment of course objectives with a detailed description of clinical experience and other clinical, community, or educational experiences that contribute to the application of course content in a practice setting. The student must address each of the course objectives and provide evidence that demonstrates attainment of the course objectives. Syllabi will be provided upon request after consultation with your faculty advisor and notification of course coordinator. The NURS 487 Leadership in Nursing and Healthcare Organizations portfolio must reflect your work experience as a nurse manager (Assistant Nurse Manager, Nurse Manager, or Nursing Administrator ). Students must clearly describe how they have completed a change project and budget in their work settings. The NURS 492 Clinical Synthesis portfolio must reflect extensive work with an evidence-based practice project or development of evidence-based clinical protocols. The portfolio must clearly describe the student’s role and responsibility in the project with supporting documentation.

Option 3: Institutionally/departmentally developed challenge exams

Course-specific Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credit may be granted to students who demonstrate achievement of course objectives by successfully completing a departmentally developed Challenge Exam. The course eligible for the challenge exam is NUTR 376.

Guidelines for Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Credit

  1. Students should not register for the class if they are seeking PLA credit.
  2. Review the current policies for PLA credit at
  3. Consult with your faculty advisor prior to submission for PLA credit to see if qualifications can be met. This should lead to a discussion with the course coordinator of the designated course.
  4. Cost or fee for PLA credit is per credit hour (portfolio/challenge exam) established by the University.
  5. Each option has a separate form for submission.
  6. Make sure the documentation and payment are submitted prior to submission of a portfolio. The portfolio and all material for validation must be submitted at least 8 weeks prior to the term in which the student is scheduled to take the class.

Contact Dr. Jeri Burger


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