Department of Criminal Justice Studies


Learning Opportunities



B.A. in Criminal Justice Studies

Minor in Criminal Justice Studies

Peace Officer Licensure Training

Pre-law Advising


M.S. in Criminal Justice Studies

M.S. in Public Safety Executive Leadership (PSEL)

Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)

As society continues to request a highly educated criminal justice professional, along with many organizations looking for tomorrow's leaders, a B.A. in Criminal Justice will equip future leaders with a solid, irreplaceable tool in their professional portfolio. 

The Credit for Prior Learning Program is an opportunity for professionals in criminal justice fields to use their experience to acquire credits toward the completion of the B.A. in Criminal Justice at St. Cloud State. Using their working knowledge, working professionals may draw upon their experience to complete a comprehensive exam and earn up to 21 credits out of a 60-credit transition. 

Contact Professor Shawn L. Williams for more information. 



1. What is the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) Program?

The CPL program is an opportunity for current practitioners to complete their bachelor’s degree at St. Cloud State, using credits from their earned A.A./A.S./A.A.S. degree from an accredited program along with their own professional training and education.

2. Can I use work experience towards a bachelor’s degree?

Yes. A working criminal justice practitioner may use working experience towards acquiring up to 21 credits for the completion of the degree. CPL is a process that will assist St. Cloud State criminal justice faculty and prospective students in identifying areas of relevant learning from their past experiences. You will demonstrate learning through appropriate documentation, and submit those materials to be assessed and potentially awarded academic credit relative to program objectives.

3. Am I considered a working criminal justice practioner?

A criminal justice practitioner is defined as an individual who is employed and has daily involvement in fields of law enforcement, criminal courts, correctional institutions, juvenile justice agencies, and victim services as well as any agents who operate within those institutions. This program will require you to have at least three full years of practioner experience. If you are unsure as to whether or not you are considered a criminal justice practitioner, please contact the program advisor. Example of working hours: 2080 working hours is equal to one year of full-time employment.

4. How do I receive credits for my experience?

After deciding this program may be a good fit for you, contact the program advisor who will walk you through your options of comprehensive exams to determine your knowledge of the possible credits to be earned. Along with the written assignment, you will also provide a detailed resume of your professional criminal justice experience. Credits to be earned will be determined by years of experience matched with your completed comprehensive exam.

5. When will I receive my credits?

Per the Credit for Prior Learning policy, after it has been determined by criminal justice faculty that you have the working experience needed and have successfully completed the written comprehensive exam, your process will begin. Your earned credits for your experience will be added to your transcript after you have completed one semester at SCSU.

6. Will I have to pay for the credits that I am looking to gain?

The short answer is yes. Per the St. Cloud State CPL policy on cost of credits: Upon transcription of approved credits, the student will be assessed a fee equivalent to the cost of 1/3 credit for each credit assigned. (e.g. For an approved 3-credit course, a student will be charged for one credit.). Example: if a prospective student is approved to receive up to 21 credits towards their BA in Criminal Justice, they will be charged for 7 credits!

7. What is the best way to demonstrate my experience deserves credits for individual courses?

A great way is to provide a background of your professional experience, training, certificates, outlines of attended trainings, and possibly letters from supervisors stating your work experience connects directly into the student learning outcomes you will be provided.

8. What costs will this program look to save me in the long run?

The cost per credit at St. Cloud State is $289.15 (2019-2020). If you were awarded 21 credits, you are looking to save up to $6000.00 towards the completion of your Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree.

9. How will I know what credits I have earned for the program?

Prior to the start of your course of study, you will be provided, in writing, how many credits you have earned based on your experience and comprehensive exam. Therefore, you and all faculty will know what classes/credits are left to complete the degree.

10. What if I am denied credits that I have attempted to gain credit for?

If you wish to request reconsideration for credits for prior learning decisions based on a faculty analysis, you can make your request to the program advisor.

11. Is there a cost for the CPL comprehensive exam?

No. There is no cost to receive, complete, and have your exam assessed by a criminal justice faculty member.