SUNY Chancellor King Announces Significant Step to Recognize Demonstrated Learning Towards Degree Completion, Workforce Advancement

February 7, 2023

Counting Real-World Experience – On-the-Job Training, Military Service, Apprenticeships, Industry Certifications & More – Toward Degree Requirements Will Help Adult Learners Advance Their Careers

SUNY Students Share Their Testimonials on How Prior Learning Assessment Policies Helped Them Achieve Their Dreams

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today announced a significant expansion of SUNY's policy on Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) that awards academic credit for learning that takes place outside of the traditional classroom, including on-the-job training, military experience, apprenticeships, industry certifications, and more.

Earning college credits for demonstrated knowledge and skills can be a powerful incentive for adult learners to continue their education and reduce the amount of time necessary to complete a degree or credential. The SUNY Board of Trustees today approved the updated PLA policy, which will boost SUNY's capacity for faculty to evaluate and award credits and emphasizes the importance that SUNY places on strong implementation to support students across the state.

"We know many New Yorkers have amassed knowledge and skills throughout their lives outside the classroom setting that can, and should, be applied to a degree," said SUNY Chancellor King. "With this updated policy, we are committed to expanding SUNY's recognition of this important reality and helping more students earn degrees and advance in the workforce. SUNY campuses will be better prepared to assess each student's unique experience, and help put them on a path toward completing the academic credentials they need to succeed."

Examples of current prior learning pathways that will be expanded and can be replicated as a result of the new policy include:

  • An individual completing the required education at the Mohawk Valley Police Academy plus necessary agency field training results in a NYS certification as a police officer, and can earn up to 17 academic credits toward a Criminal Justice associate degree at Mohawk Valley Community College.
  • Required instruction and on-the-job training in the Brewer/Distiller New York State Registered Apprenticeship can equate to up to 18 credits toward the Craft Beer Brewing certificate and associate degree, or the Craft Spirit Distillation certificate and associate degree at SUNY Schenectady.
  • An MC Petty Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard could receive academic credit for military training and for language courses taken overseas at SUNY Empire State College. Under the revised policy SUNY is committed to expanding the use of the American Council on Education's Enhanced Military Guide and Joint Services Transcript evaluation.

SUNY Board Trustee Stanley S. Litow said, "A college degree is essential to career success. Lifetime earnings of someone with a college degree is over a million dollars more than those entering the workforce without one. Data is clear, a SUNY degree not only improves a student's chance for success, but contributes to economic success for us all. Today's common sense policy change opens up the opportunity to receive credit for life experiences enroute to a degree. It saves students money, increases academic success, and both college completion and college enrollment. It respects and recognizes real world knowledge gained in the school of life."

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, Chair, Committee on Higher Education said, "Expanding SUNY's Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) will enable more students to have skills and knowledge acquired outside the classroom to count towards their degrees. Students' pathways towards achieving their dream of earning a degree can look different, and today's decision underscores why flexibility is key to helping more students complete their postsecondary education. Not only will this step save students time and money, it will help advance their careers and ensure they're ready to join the workforce post-graduation."

State Senator Joe Griffo, Ranking Member, Committee on Higher Education said, "I am pleased that SUNY will be expanding its policy on Prior Learning Assessment and awarding academic credit for skills that have been acquired outside of a traditional classroom setting. This expansion will help many New Yorkers continue their education, earn a degree or credential or advance in their careers while also opening doors for new and additional opportunities."

Assemblymember Robert Smullen, Ranking Member, Committee on Higher Education, said, "It should never be viewed as too late for an adult to pursue higher education. We, as legislators, should encourage adults to chase the goal of earning a degree because so many careers in our country require advanced learning. As a veteran and now a member of the Assembly, I understand how difficult it is to completely change career paths. Thank you to SUNY for expanding this program that will break down barriers and allow individuals to receive their degree, even if it is not in the traditional classroom setting."

According to the National Student Clearinghouse, as of the 2020/2021 academic year, 39 million adult learners—two million in New York alone—had some college but had not a completed degree or certificate.

Adult learners can save on average 9 to 14 months toward earning a degree when awarded credit for prior learning, according to a 2020 report by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education. Those students also have the potential to save between $1,500 and $10,000 through the process.

Individuals with military experience or learners who have taken published career exams or have years of experience are encouraged to ask campuses about their process to evaluate credit for prior learning. To learn more about how to apply to SUNY campuses, visit

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

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