Transfer and Experiential Credit for Professional Studies Students

Adults bring a wide array of talents and expertise to the college experience. Some of it stems from a traditional collegiate program and some of it comes from non-traditional sources, such as professional training, technical and certificate programs, as well as their own work experience.

Professional Studies Admissions considers and evaluates all of these sources, allowing the adult student to transfer more credits into their St. Joseph’s degree program.

Transfer Credit and Prior Learning Assessment Policies

  • Adult learners can transfer up to 90 credits from accredited four-year traditional colleges and universities

— or —

  • Adult learners can transfer a maximum of 82 prior learning credits from the following educational experiences: 
    • traditional college coursework
    • training programs
    • professional certifications
    • credit by examination
    • Prior Experiential Learning Assessment (PELA) 
  • Credits from educational institutions that are not regionally accredited but are approved New York State collegiate programs may be accepted.
  • Students pursuing a degree in Professional Studies may earn a maximum of 27 credits through Prior Experiential Learning Assessment (PELA). Through PELA, eligible students can register for an experiential portfolio seminar and work with the Prior Learning Assessment coordinator to document and thoroughly assess prior learning experiences.

Therefore, many students begin their degree program at St. Joseph's University with more than half the credits they need to graduate. To earn a bachelor's degree from St. Joseph's University, students must complete a minimum of 30 credits* in residence.

Please Note: Grades indicating a Pass (P) for the Spring or Summer 2020 semesters will be considered for transfer credit. However, some courses may require a higher grade in order to satisfy certain major requirements.
* Certain majors may require a minimum of 32 credits be completed at St. Joseph's University.

Credit for Prior Experiential Learning

Professional Studies students, except for Nursing majors, with extensive and varied experiential learning may participate in the Prior Experiential Learning Assessment (PELA) Program, which gives students the opportunity to apply for credit for their prior experiential learning. Validated learning, not the experience alone, is the basis for awarding credit. Professional Studies students do not receive credit for “having lived,” but rather for having mastered—through professional, creative, volunteer or other experience—knowledge and skills that are deemed to be at the college level and are applicable in the context of the student’s degree program.

St. Joseph's University recognizes that adult learners, through their professional training and experience, attain knowledge and skills that can translate into collegiate credit. Professional Studies students with comprehensive experiential learning  may participate in the Prior Experiential Learning Assessment Program (PELA), which gives students the opportunity to earn credit for their prior learning by:

  • enrolling in GS 111L Experiential Portfolio Seminar, which is a mentored course designed to facilitate the assessment of prior learning for the purpose of developing an experiential learning portfolio — a collaborative effort between the student and PELA coordinator. Students have the unique opportunity to meet at their convenience via telephone, email, video conferencing and in person with the PELA coordinator to receive assistance in their pursuit of PELA.

PELA Contact

Ashley Benson, M.A.
Associate Director, Online Programs
PELA Coordinator
[email protected]

Colleen DohertyColleen Doherty

“The Prior Experiential Learning Assessment Program (PELA) allowed me to turn the experience I've gained as a 10-year non-profit professional into credits to speed up my timeline to graduation. I earned and was awarded 21 credits for various subjects I have expertise in such as: event planning, strategic planning, inter-agency collaboration, disaster response and more. As a career-focused part-time student, it would have taken me three or four semesters to attain those credits in classes.”