Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment is a means of obtaining college credits for knowledge gained on the job or through individual study.

Students at HCC can earn as many as 45 credits by examination. HCC students are encouraged to see an academic advisor to determine how prior learning assessment may fit into their programs of study. Please see the Credit by Examination table for a list of  exams and respective scores for which HCC will award credit. These exams include the following:

CLEP and DSST Exams

The HCC-Test Center is an open center for CLEP and DSST examinations. Call 443-412-2352 to set an appointment for your CLEP and/or DSST exam or complete our online registration form.  The Test Center offers CLEP and DSST for most days of the week except Saturday and Sunday.

For more information about CLEP exams, visit
For more information about DSST exams, visit

Two separate payments are required for the CLEP/DSST exam:

  • Credit card payment to CLEP/DSST. Visit the CLEP/DSST website for the most updated test fees.
  • a check or credit card payment for administrative fee payable to Harford Community College for $25

To pay for CLEP exams, go to You should create or log-in to your account. Registering for an exam on this site provides you with a registration ticket. On the day of the test you will need to bring a valid government issued photo id, CLEP registration ticket, and a check or credit card to pay the $25 proctoring fee.

If you are taking a CLEP exam for which an optional essay is available (College Composition, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature, American Literature, or English Literature), you must know if your school requires the optional essay.  After completing and passing the objective portion of the test, you will then pay an additional $10 fee and the essay portion of the exam will be ordered for you.  You will write the essay at a later date.

To pay for DSST exams you must bring a credit card with you to the Test Center. On the day of the test you will need to bring a valid government issued photo id, DSST test title, score recipient code, and a credit card to pay the proctor fee and exam fee.

Division Exams

Harford Community College faculty creates division examinations for certain courses. The exams are available for a fee. Most require prior approval.  Please print and complete the steps in the Application for Credit by Division Exam Form. For more information about division exams, see the College Catalog.

Industry Recognized Credentials (IRC)

HCC accepts industry recognized credentials (IRC) for academic credit. Eligible IRCs include industry, trade and professional certifications or qualifications that are earned by individuals to perform a task or job. IRCs are considered an option under Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) for individuals seeking to apply their experience toward an academic degree. In order for students to use credentials for credit, the credential must be an approved IRC and students must be able to provide original documentation of the credential with which they are seeking credit.

A current list of approved IRCs and the courses eligible for credit can be found on the Credit for Prior Learning Application for Industry Recognized Credentials

There is no fee for seeking PLA credit through IRCs. If you will be applying for credit with an IRC, please print, read and complete the Credit for Prior Learning Application for Industry Recognized Credentials. Credentials not included on the list may be eligible for credit following a division assessment of the credential.

*Note: Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credit is awarded based on HCC policy.There is no guarantee PLA credit will transfer to a four year institution. If you plan to transfer, it is recommended that you check with your intended institution for information on the PLA credit and/or non-traditional credit transfer policy.