Public Engagement

Prior Learning

  • We value what you’ve done.

    The Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students at The New School values the knowledge students have acquired outside the classroom through on-the-job training, creative practice, volunteer work, military service, and independent learning and inside the classroom through noncredit courses and other courses for which traditional transfer credit cannot be granted. Your prior learning can save you time and money—and give you a head start toward finishing your undergraduate degree.

    See the answers to frequently asked questions below to learn how you can receive credit for your life experience.

  • What kinds of learning can I get credit for?

    The Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students awards credit for college-level learning comparable to the content of courses currently offered for credit at The New School: for liberal arts subjects such as literature, philosophy, religion, counseling, history, sociology, anthropology, political science, creative writing, and foreign languages and for professional and studio/performance experience in (non–liberal arts) areas such as fine arts, music, theater, dance, film production, photography, journalism, computer science, and business.

    How many credits can I receive for my prior learning?

    A maximum of 6 credits can be awarded for prior learning in any specific area of study. The maximum total number of credits any student can receive for multiple areas of study is 30. This includes credits awarded through language testing and portfolio assessment.

    The New School requires 120 credits for the bachelor’s degree. At least 36 credits must come from courses you have taken as a matriculated student at The New School. No more than 84 credits may come from any combination of the following:

    1. Credits earned at other colleges and universities
    2. Credits awarded through foreign language examination
    3. Credits awarded through prior learning portfolio assessment.

    The New School requires 15 credits for the AAS in Food Studies. The credit requirement is practice based and can be fulfilled by prior learning within the hospitality industry.

    If you are considering applying for credit for prior learning toward a BA, BS, BFA, or AAS at The New School, discuss the options with your faculty advisor first. The Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students will then review your transcripts in order to determine the maximum number of credits that you can receive through a prior learning assessment. Keep in mind that any credits earned through portfolio evaluation will be assigned as “liberal arts” and “non–liberal arts” credits according to the type of material presented in the portfolio.

    How does the portfolio assessment of prior learning work?

    The first step is to take the Workshop on Credit for Prior Learning. This one-credit workshop is offered every fall and spring semester. The workshop is open to students who have significant prior experience in appropriate subject areas, are in good academic standing, and have transferred 60 or more credits into the Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students or have earned at least 12 credits as matriculated students at The New School. You must have permission from the Prior Learning coordinator to register for the workshop.

    In the workshop, you’ll learn how to compile the required portfolio, which consists of a narrative essay describing your previous experience in the context of your academic and professional goals; a learning assessment for each prior learning area, including the title as it will appear on the transcript; the number of credits you are requesting (from 1 to a maximum of 6 for each area of study); a description of the setting of your prior learning and of your role and responsibilities; self-reflective writing on the skills and knowledge you acquired; and appropriate documentation to substantiate and verify the learning for which credit is requested. By the end of the workshop, you will understand the genre of the portfolio and will have a draft portfolio on which you can continue to work after the end of the workshop. Successful completion of the workshop and award of the credit for the workshop are determined by your attendance and progress in compiling a portfolio.

    During the following fall or spring semester (or any subsequent semester), you submit your completed portfolio(s) to the Prior Learning coordinator, who assigns each portfolio for evaluation to a New School faculty member with expertise in the field for which credit is requested. In some cases, in addition to reviewing the portfolio, the evaluator may ask a student to demonstrate understanding of the portfolio contents in some other way. The evaluator assesses the quality of learning and recommends the number of credits to be awarded (which could be fewer than the number requested). Credit is entered on the transcript at the end of the semester during which the portfolio is assessed. The entry includes the title of the learning area and the number of credits. No letter grades are awarded for prior learning.

    What kinds of portfolios have received credit?

    Every person’s experience is distinct, and the portfolio process allows you to package your specific set of skills. Subjects of submitted portfolios range from business management to ballet technique. Recent examples are listed below, but the list is merely representative of the possibilities.

    • Acting: The Meisner Technique
    • Advertising and Promotions
    • Ballet Technique
    • Black-and-White Photography
    • Crisis Counseling
    • Establishing a Church
    • Film Production
    • Interactive ASP Web Sites
    • Jewelry Design
    • Legislating Women’s Health
    • Music Production
    • Neighborhood Journalism in NYC
    • Nonprofit Arts Management
    • Principles of Financial Markets
    • Public Relations
    • Sales and Marketing
    • Theatrical Stage Management
    • Screenwriting
    • Starting a Business
    • TV Post-Production
    • Writing the One-Act Play
    • Youth Organizing

    What is the tuition cost of portfolio evaluation?

    Tuition for the Prior Learning Workshop is charged at the regular tuition rate for one credit. In the semester in which you submit your portfolio(s) for evaluation, you register for the number of portfolios you are submitting and are charged a flat assessment fee of $600 for each portfolio (regardless of the total number of credits you seek).

    How can I earn credit by testing?

    The New School prefers the portfolio process for assessing prior learning because a portfolio can be developed on the basis of the student’s personal experiences. We do, however, award credits through testing for knowledge of foreign languages. Students with ability in a foreign language can receive up to 16 prior-learning credits by passing an examination offered by New York University. Visit the NYU Proficiency webpage for a list of languages tested and fees. Before taking an NYU language test, you must obtain approval from the Prior Learning coordinator at The New School.

    If you are currently enrolled in the Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students, call 212.229.5119 for more information about earning credit through foreign language testing. If you are a prospective student, speak to an admission counselor.

    The Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students also accepts examinations offered by the College Board (CLEP). The exams must have been taken before you enroll at The New School and should be submitted along with your other transfer credit transcripts when you apply to The New School. For more information on CLEP, please contact the Admission office at

    If you’d like to find out more about earning credit for prior learning experience, an admission counselor would be happy to help. Contact for more information.