Credit For Prior Learning and Credit by Proficiency

Students with previous academic training, on-the-job experiences, military training, and other past learning activities can translate their acquired knowledge into college credit through the various following options. However, only a maximum of 25% of a degree or certificate may be awarded using Prior Learning options.

Advanced Placement/College Board Test

Proficiency credit may be awarded for specific scores of advanced placement classes taken in high school. Official scores must be sent to the Director of Enrollment and Records. Contact the Director of Enrollment and Records for Advanced Placement scores accepted for college credit. Students must earn 6 hours of HCC credit before Advance Placement credits are applied to their transcript.

Credit Granted for AP Examination Scores by Course


CLEP Exams

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) gives students the opportunity to receive college credit by earning qualifying scores on a wide variety of subject examinations. Credit can be earned by demonstrating knowledge previously gained through independent study, prior course work, on-the-job training, professional development, cultural pursuits or internships. CLEP tests are administered in the

Testing Center, located in the Student/Conference Centeron the Highland campus during fall, spring and summer semesters. Contact Carolyn Petsche, CLEP test administrator, at 815- 599-3577, for more information. For information regarding CLEP course equivalencies, speak to a student advisor, 815-599-3573. To find out more about CLEP examinations and to access review materials, visit

Credit Granted for CLEP Examinations by Exam


Credit by Proficiency

Students can earn up to 25% of the credit hours required for an HCC degree or certificate by successfully completing proficiency tests. Proficiency tests are best suited for students with considerable academic and life experiences. 

To take proficiency tests at Highland, a student must first be formally admitted to the College. Students are also encouraged to meet with an HCC advisor or instructor for an assessment of their qualifications before taking proficiency exams. Students must pay a non-refundable administrative fee of $25 and non-refundable tuition of $25/credit hour before taking the test. The tests may include a written or oral exam, portfolio review, history of on-the-job experiences, or any combination of the above. 

Following successful completion of proficiency tests, credit will be granted and will appear on the student’s official HCC transcript. Proficiency credit carries no grade value and does not affect a student’s grade-point average. It cannot be used to fulfill the residency requirements of HCC degrees. Students should check with their transfer institution regarding their policies for proficiency credit.

Proficiency credit earned at other accredited institutions will be accepted at Highland providing the course for which the test was taken is equivalent to an HCC course and as long as the institution recorded the credit on a student’s official transcript. 

Interested students should contact the Office of Admissions and Records for details at 815-599-3414.

Military Experience

College-level credit will be awarded to veterans based upon recommendations listed in the most recent Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services or evaluation of the student’s SMART transcripts which are available online. If requested, up to four semester hours of physical education activity credit will be awarded to veterans whose DD214 verifies at least one year of “active duty” or more upon request. Contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 815-599-3414 for more information

PEP (Proficiency Examination Program)

PEP credit will be allowed for specific nursing courses only. Students must make arrangements with the Director of Nursing for testing and test specifics.