Life Experience

Credit for life experience is not evaluated during the admissions process; students begin the process after they have enrolled in the program. Accordingly, Life Experience Seminars are ONLY open to current CUNY Baccalaureate students.
If you’re not already a CUNY BA student and are interested in learning more about the program, click here: CUNY BA

What is Life Experience Credit?

CUNY Baccalaureate offers life experience credit evaluation as a way to earn academic credit for knowledge and experience gained outside of a traditional classroom. In the broadest sense, “academic” life experience includes all college-level learning before admission to—or during a significant hiatus from—college.

In order to qualify as life experience worthy of college credit, one must show knowledge of a particular academic subject through its application in the “real world,” not through classroom courses completed in non-accredited colleges, other agencies, or professional development programs (although these may serve as foundations for further application of these non-accredited courses). Knowledge obtained through career experience, including volunteer work and professional training, may apply as long as it can be equated with the content of academic coursework. While most things people do involve some sort of learning, not all learning is college-level learning. Most important to keep in mind about the life experience credit process is that credit cannot be awarded for your experiences (no matter how sophisticated) unless they can be demonstrated to substantially parallel college-level learning.

Policy Overview

CUNY BA students can earn up to 15 credits for documented learning experiences, published works, or artistic performances that occurred a) before they started college, b) during a hiatus of at least one year in their college careers, or c) in their current job if they were doing the same job for at least two years before starting college, provided they can show that what they learned or did is equivalent to college-level work.

Another way to pursue life experience credits is for courses/workshops completed at a non-accredited school:  If you completed courses or workshops at an unaccredited school or organization, you may seek life experience credit for these only if you subsequently applied what you learned (through work or volunteer experience, paid or unpaid).  For example:  If you completed courses at the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences (a.k.a. the Swedish Institute for Massage), an organization that is not accredited by either the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools or by the New York State Board of Regents, to apply for life experience credits for those courses you would have had to put what you learned there into practice (and explain and document that practice in your portfolio); furnishing CUNY BA with a Swedish Institute transcript alone will not suffice for life experience credit consideration.

Enrolled students can pursue the life experience credit option when they have earned between 45 and 90 credits. Credit for prior learning cannot be awarded in the semester during which graduation requirements will be completed; students are urged, therefore, not to wait until the last minute to submit their portfolios.

Credit for prior learning can not be applied to area(s) of concentration, liberal arts, residency, or core distribution requirements. This credit is always elective credit. Students who enter the program with 90 credits do not have room in their degrees for life experience credits; students who enter with close to 90 credits may not have room either (those students should consult their CUNY Baccalaureate academic advisor after their area of concentration form is approved).

Process Overview

  • Seminar: Students wishing to apply for credit for prior experiential learning must attend a Life Experience Seminar at the program office, held throughout the year, typically in October, February, and May (day and evening sessions).
  • Outline: At the seminar, students learn the guidelines for life experience credits, and learn how to write and present an outline (the required first step, on which they receive feedback), and then how to write and assemble their portfolios.
  • Portfolio: The portfolio should be submitted within six months of your attendance at one of the seminars. It should include an in-depth narrative detailing what you did and what you learned, showing how your experience resulted in the equivalent of college-level learning; a letter to the evaluation committee and complete documentation is required. Many students choose to include a bibliography as well as additional examples of their work if they have that (i.e., slides, photographs, videotapes, etc.). The portfolio must clearly demonstrate that what was learned outside the classroom does not duplicate learning for which the student has already received credit. Examples of outlines and portfolios are available at the seminar. Students are always welcome to come to the office during regular business hours to see samples of life experience portfolios.

Attendance at a 90-minute seminar is a required part of the process for applying for Life Experience Credits. You must have room in your degree requirements for elective credits (see your degree contract or consult your CUNY Baccalaureate advisor), and the work for which you are seeking credit must have occurred at a time when you were not enrolled in college. Life Experience Seminars are ONLY open to current CUNY Baccalaureate students and are held virtually.

Spring 2021 Seminars

Wednesday, February 17 at 2 PM SIGN UP

Tuesday, March 16 at  3 PM SIGN UP

Wednesday, April 14 at 12 PM SIGN UP

Wednesday, April 21 at 12 PM SIGN UP