Credit for Prior Learning
Howard Community College (HCC) believes that learning is a lifelong process and knowledge is acquired in many different ways. In addition to the traditional classroom setting, mastery of college-level knowledge and skills may occur as a result of noncredit training and nontraditional learning experiences such as employment, military training and experience, noncollegiate training programs, advanced high school courses, and self-development. In accordance with Maryland State law, credit for up to 75 percent (generally 45 credits) of an associate degree, or 50 percent of a certificate, may be granted for prior learning. Credit age limitations apply to many nursing and allied health programs. Clinical coursework is generally not accepted if completed more than two years ago. Time limitations and minimum grade requirements may exist for science courses used as prerequisites for some nursing and allied health programs. Depending on the nursing and allied health program and science courses, the time limitation may be five or ten years. While age limitations do not apply to coursework in other programs, it is each student’s responsibility to ensure that the student has adequate prerequisite knowledge to be successful in their program of study. Therefore, students are strongly advised to retake or otherwise review prior prerequisite coursework whenever necessary.
To be awarded transfer credits, students must have a declared area of study. Official transcripts, along with an official transcript evaluation request form, must be submitted to the office of admissions and advising. HCC charges a fee for the transcript evaluation process; this fee is waived for active duty service members, honorably discharged veterans, and their dependents who must provide all military and collegiate transcripts within 45 days of admission to HCC; evaluation will be completed within two weeks. All other evaluations are conducted within 60 days of receipt. Current fees charged for single and multiple learning programs evaluations are available online and in appropriate college publications. When students change their learning program, a new transcript evaluation must be done. It is the student’s responsibility to officially request a new evaluation. HCC cannot guarantee that other colleges and universities where students may transfer will evaluate their credit in the same way HCC does. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with transfer institutions regarding transfer credit policies. HCC’s transfer center, located within the office of admissions and advising, can assist with this process.
Reverse transfer refers to a statewide agreement whereby up to 45 credits that a student earns at any public four-year higher education institution in the State towards a bachelor's degree are transferrable to any community college in the state for credit towards an associate's degree. To be eligible for reverse transfer, students must have completed 15 college-level credits and earned a 2.0 GPA while attending HCC. For reverse transfer consideration, students must submit an official (sealed) transcript from the institution attended, complete an HCC transcript evaluation request form, as well as an HCC application to graduate form. Transcript evaluation fees are waived for students participating in the reverse transfer process.
Traditional Prior Learning
COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY CREDIT– Credit may be granted by HCC for coursework completed at accredited colleges and universities. Transfer credit is granted by HCC based on a student’s area of study. A grade of “C” or higher is required for any coursework that is prerequisite to nursing and allied health clinical courses. HCC awards credit for other coursework completed with a grade of “D” or above. While “D” grades may satisfy general education requirements at transfer institutions, “D” grades may not satisfy specific course requirements directly related to a student’s major at HCC or at the transfer institution.
INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY CREDIT– Credit is awarded, as appropriate, for coursework completed at international colleges and universities. However, HCC’s office of admissions and advising generally does not evaluate international transcripts. Students seeking credit for coursework completed at international colleges and universities must have their transcripts evaluated by an international credentialing agency that is a nationally recognized accredited agency in the United States. Students must submit an official copy of the results directly to HCC’s office of admissions and advising. Credit may be granted for international coursework based on the results of such evaluations. Otherwise, the same policies and procedures that apply to coursework completed at U.S. colleges and universities are used. Additional information and a list of several international credentialing agencies are available in the office of admissions and advising and on the HCC website.
HIGH SCHOOL ARTICULATION CREDIT– Students who have completed Howard County Public School System career programs through Career Academies may be eligible for academic credit at HCC through an articulation agreement with the school system. Eligibility for this credit is based on a number of factors, including the student’s area of study, other college coursework the student has completed, the student’s grade in the high school course, and the specific terms of the articulation agreement. Students must submit to the college’s office of admissions and advising an official high school transcript and an Articulated Credit Form (available in high school guidance offices, HCC’s office of admissions and advising, and on the HCC website). The award of credit for high school coursework does not guarantee that transfer institutions will grant credit for these courses or grant credit in the same way.
Nontraditional Prior Learning
State law limits the number of credits that can be awarded for nontraditional learning to thirty (30) for both two-year and four-year colleges and universities. (This limit is based on a 60-credit associate degree or a 120-credit bachelor degree. The nontraditional credit limit can be increased proportionally when degrees exceed these credit totals.) The college awards applicable credits earned for the following nontraditional prior learning:
NON-COLLEGIATE PROGRAMS – Credit may be granted for educational programs that apply to students’ learning programs and have been successfully completed at non-collegiate organizations such as government agencies, corporations and businesses, trade and technical schools, and others. Non-collegiate courses will be evaluated in accordance with the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations, as well as other approved organizations, in accordance with the college’s articulation agreements with nontraditional organizations and agencies. Official transcripts, along with an official transcript evaluation request form, must be submitted to the office of admissions and advising.
MILITARY EDUCATION AND TRAINING – Credit may be granted for a variety of formal military, vocational, and educational programs based on a student’s declared learning program at HCC. Students using VA benefits or Tuition Assistance are required to submit transcripts for all prior learning for evaluation; transcript evaluation fees are waived for members of the military community. Students will be awarded credit based on recommendations made by the ACE, as well as in accordance with the college’s articulation agreements with individual military branches and organizations. Official military transcripts, including Joint Services Transcript (JST), Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), or other military transcripts, must be submitted with a transcript evaluation request form to the office of admissions and advising.
PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENT– Credit for prior learning acquired through employment, self-study, volunteer, civic, or other activities may be awarded through the portfolio assessment option. To earn credit through this method, students must enroll in a course specifically designed to assist in the development of a portfolio summarizing prior experiential learning. In COOP-160, Portfolio Development, students learn to document previous learning in a format that enables faculty to assess eligibility for academic credit. Students must demonstrate that prior learning and experience have resulted in the acquisition of college-level competencies and skills directly related to courses in their learning programs. Students have eighteen months to complete their assessment of prior learning through Portfolio Assessment. Specific prerequisites are necessary to participate in this program. For most programs, a maximum of 15 credits may be earned through this option. Further information may be obtained by contacting the business and computer systems division.
CREDIT BY EXAMINATION – Students may be awarded credit through nationally standardized or HCC institutional testing programs. HCC has specific policies for all testing programs for which it awards credits based on scores, other credits earned, and students’ learning programs. Credit is generally not awarded for institutional exams taken at other colleges and universities. Students must submit official score transcripts, declare a learning program, and submit an official request for a transcript evaluation to receive credit for national examination programs. HCC’s test center administers some of these exams to its current and prospective students. Information regarding required scores and credits awarded may be obtained by contacting the office of admissions and advising.
National Examinations – The national examination programs for which the college awards credit are:
ADVANCED PLACEMENT (AP) EXAMS – These are subject-matter exams sponsored by the College Board and generally administered through high schools at the culmination of AP course offerings. The college generally awards credit for scores of 3, 4, or 5. Further information can be obtained by contacting high school guidance offices or the College Board website.
INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE (IB) EXAMS – These are subject-matter exams administered in high school international baccalaureate programs. The college generally awards credit for scores of 4, 5, 6, or 7. For more information, contact the office of admissions and advising or the International Baccalaureate program website.
COLLEGE-LEVEL EXAMINATION PROGRAM (CLEP) – This is a national credit-by-examination program providing individuals of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to receive credit for college-level achievement acquired in a wide variety of ways. General and subject examinations are available in many different areas. HCC administers CLEP examinations to current and prospective students at its test center. Additional information regarding CLEP can be obtained by contacting the office of admissions and advising or the College Board website.
DSST (FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE DANTES SUBJECT STANDARDIZED TESTS) – Students participating in the DSST program have the opportunity to earn college credit for learning that has occurred outside the traditional classroom. HCC administers DSST examinations at its test center. Students may earn up to three credits for each examination based on their scores and the American Council of Education’s (ACE) score recommendations. Additional information regarding DSST can be obtained by contacting the office of admissions and advising or the DSST website.
EXCELSIOR COLLEGE EXAMS – Students may complete subject-based exams developed and offered through Excelsior College and Pearson VUE. Students must receive a grade of “C” or higher for these examinations to be equated to HCC courses. Exams are administered through the HCC test center. For more information and a list of accepted exams, please contact the office of admissions and advising.
Institutional Examinations – Institutional exams offered at HCC for selected courses include:
PROFICIENCY EXAMS – These exams are taken prior to course enrollment when students believe they have mastery of course skills and objectives. Successful test performance results in course credits and appears on transcripts as proficiency credit. Proficiency exams cannot be retaken and cannot be taken by students previously unsuccessful in courses for which they are seeking credit. Students must be admitted to the college prior to taking proficiency exams. A fee equal to fifty percent of the current in-county tuition for the course will be charged for each proficiency examination. Proficiency exams must be taken within thirty calendar days after fee payment; students who do not take exams within this thirty-day limit will be notified that credit will not be issued.
CHALLENGE EXAMS – These exams are taken after enrolling in courses when students believe they have acquired course skills and objectives. Successful test performance results in the award of course credit, which, along with the grade earned, appears on a student’s transcript. A challenge exam may only be attempted once during a course. If the exam does not result in a passing grade, the student remains in the course. There is no additional cost for challenge exams beyond course tuition and fees.
Students must contact the appropriate faculty or department chairperson to arrange proficiency and challenge exams. These exams are offered for some, but not all, credit courses. Information on proficiency and challenge exams is available in the office of admissions and advising and in the appropriate academic division offices.
LPN-RN MOBILITY EXAM – HCC administers the LPN-RN Mobility Exam as one part of the process of determining advanced standing in the LPN Pathways program. This exam is designed to facilitate LPN to RN career mobility. The exam is one method to assess prior learning and experience in the nursing field. It is used by HCC in combination with other requirements to award clinical nursing transfer credit and advanced standing in the LPN Pathways program. Further information may be obtained through the office of admissions and advising.