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Prior learning assessment is a process of evaluating a student’s life experiences and evaluating them for college-level learning. Assessment of prior learning is valuable to the adult learner as it validates knowledge gained outside of the traditional classroom. It can save students time and money by decreasing the number of required courses needed for degree completion.

The BGS Degree Program offers many different prior learning options. Before pursuing any of these avenues, please check with an academic advisor to verify that hours earned will not be a duplication of previously completed coursework. Your advisor can also give confirmation that any credit granted can be applied towards remaining degree requirements.

Below are prior learning assessment opportunities to consider.


The AARTS (Army American Registry Transcript System) is the transcript service for soldiers and veterans of the Army, Army National Guard, and US Army Reserve.

The SMARTS (Sailor/Marine Ace Registry Transcript) is for individuals with service in the Navy or Marine Corps. These transcripts are a record of college-level credits earned through military coursework and training during the time of service. For information on how to request an AARTS or SMARTS transcript, visit the American Council on Education website.

Subject Matter/Proficiency Exams

Credit from certain national proficiency exams is accepted at Eastern Illinois University. These exams test mastery of college-level material. Before taking any exam, please work with your BGS Academic Advisor to ensure these exams will decrease remaining degree requirements.

EIU accepts test results from:

Prior Learning Portfolio

BGS students who believe that they have gained college-level learning outside the formal classroom, through experiences such as work and community service, are encouraged to develop a prior learning portfolio, whereby they will equate their knowledge to content taught through EIU courses. Students are required to complete an online course, BGS 3001 BGS Prior Learning Portfolio.

This is a 3 semester hour, upper division online course. Students register for this course on PAWS, and will be billed tuition and fees like any other EIU course. With successful completion of this course, students will not only have 3 hours towards their upper division requirement, but will also have a completed portfolio that can be submitted for evaluation. EIU faculty members review the portfolio and determine a credit award based on the learning that is demonstrated in the prior learning portfolio.

Students interested in this option should take BGS 3001 during their first or second semester at EIU. Interested students should contact Kimberly Redfern, BGS Portfolio Administrator, for further information at karedfern2@eiu.edu or call 217/581-5618.