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Assessment of Prior Learning

Started Oct 17, 2019

$250 Enroll

Full course description



Ferris State University is committed to helping students attain the education they need to achieve a better life and contribute to the communities in which they live. At Ferris, we understand that not all learning happens in the classroom. Whether you are coming from the professional world, military service, completing an internship or would like to earn credit for other life and work experiences and trainings, you possess unique skills and knowledge that can help you create the future you want. The Online Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) can help you find, sort, and present learning from your experiences in a way that can help you earn credits, meaning less time to degree and less student debt.

Students who successfully complete the Assessment of Prior Learning may be granted credit as recommended by the faculty reviewer.

Who Should Complete an Assessment of Prior Learning?

Wherever you are coming from—the military, business and industry, are a current student, volunteer work, or some other endeavor—you may benefit from completing an Assessment of Prior Learning.

Assessment of Prior Learning Format

The portfolio development process will focus on the following questions:

  • What are the life and work experiences that have provided you with an opportunity to learn and expand your breadth of knowledge?
  • What have you learned from your experiences?
  • What supports (evidence) do you have for your claims of learning from experience?
  • How does your learning from experience relate to what you will be studying at Ferris State University?

Your Canvas Portfolio

You will be building your Assessment of Prior Learning portfolio in Canvas. Canvas is a secure Learning Management System that many Ferris professors use to teach their classes. 

To sign in to your online APL you will need the login you set up to open this account. When your portfolio homepage opens you will see the content in the middle of the screen. On the left side of the screen you will find links to important links within the APL. 


Most students will complete four modules for their APL. Students pursuing credit for General Education will complete five modules. In each module there will be writing assignments that will help you develop your portfolio. 

For most activities in the module there is an explanation followed by a form that will be used to submit your work.

When creating your portfolio, the goal is to develop the strongest portfolio possible so that when you submit the final version you have an opportunity to earn the credits that you are seeking.


So what exactly are you submitting in your final portfolio? Your portfolio is a collection of artifacts. Some of the artifacts you already have and others you will be creating. Artifacts in your portfolio will include: 

  • Statement of Purpose – This is the letter you will use to introduce yourself to the faculty and explain why you are attending Ferris.  
  • Educational Reflection – This is an essay where you reflect on the learning you have gained through your experience and how it relates to things you want to do at Ferris.
  • Supporting Documents – Some examples of supporting documents include academic transcripts or test scores, resume, military documents like a JST or discharge papers, or letters from supervisors or colleges. Any document that serves as supporting evidence of your experiential learning should be uploaded into your portfolio.  

The Process 

There are four basic steps to the portfolio development process:

  1. Reflect on your learning from experience
  2. See how the learning relates to the course and college outcomes of your programs and courses of interest
  3. Write essays (artifacts) making the case for your learning from experience being equivalent to Ferris Courses.
  4. Submit your final portfolio artifacts to the college from which you are seeking credits.

The Online Assessment of Prior Learning is designed to fit the schedule of a standard college semester but could be completed in more or less time, depending on how quickly you want to complete it. Remember a quality Assessment of Prior Learning can earn you credits, saving you a significant amount of time and money. This is also a great opportunity for you to expand your writing skills and really reflect on all that you know and have learned.  

The APL Coordinator 

As you create your online APL and have questions, you can reach out to the APL Coordinator. The Coordinator is familiar with the APL process and Ferris State University's various colleges and is available to answer any questions that you may have during the process.  

Keys to Success 

Here are a few key points to keep in mind as we start creating your portfolio: 

1.     Focus on learning: Credit can only be given for prior learning, so it is important to start thinking about what you have learned from your experiences. 

2.     Keep making it better: Creating a strong assessment of prior learning portfolio is an iterative process, meaning that you might write and revise artifacts in your portfolio multiple times. 

3.     It is worth the effort: While the process takes time and effort, the rewards can be significant, not just in terms of credits, but also in gaining a broader prospective and greater pride in the knowledge that you are bringing to Ferris.

4.     There is help: As you work on your portfolio, you will have the support of an APL Coordinator who is familiar with the APL process at Ferris and will serves as your primary point-of-contact. 

APL Coordinator

Dr. Deedee Stakley is the Director of the Office of Transfer and Secondary School Partnerships and the Transfer Services Center.  Deedee is a strong advocate for transfer and non-traditional students.


The cost to submit an APL is $250 for the first 1-5 credits and $50 for each additional credit.

The $250 fee is due at the beginning of the process. If you are awarded more than five credits, you will pay the additional cost prior to the credits posting to your account.