Advanced Level

Study beyond the introductory level that involves: higher levels of abstraction, increasingly extensive knowledge and complex content, greater methodological sophistication. It is commonly thought of as junior- or senior-level study at traditional institutions.

Note: Advanced level credit is designated by a plus sign (+) on the degree program plan.

Advanced Standing

College-level credit earned through sources outside of Empire State College. This includes transfer credit from other regionally accredited colleges and universities and credit by evaluation (see definition below).

Center Office of Academic Review (COAR)

An office located at each of the centers with a director of academic review and assessment specialists who work with students and mentors in the development and academic review of degree programs.


The final acceptance of the student’s degree program plan based on a policy compliance review completed by the Office of Collegewide Academic Review.

This is the point at which students’ advanced standing credits are officially accepted and the degree plan becomes their official curriculum.

Credit by Evaluation (CBE)

Credit or credits awarded for learning that has been evaluated and validated by an organization or a standardized examination, such as CLEP, ACE or Empire State College.

Credit by evaluation is also known as prior learning assessment (PLA). Individualized prior learning assessment (iPLA) is a type of PLA and can be completed for areas of college/university-level knowledge that is not evaluated and validated by other acceptable sources.

Degree Program (DP)

The degree program is a comprehensive plan that lists each component of a student’s Empire State College degree. Prepared with faculty advice, the degree program utilizes a special transcript/degree program format.

On the degree program, the student lists all the component titles and credits that make up their degree, including previously obtained components of transcripted or evaluated learning, as well as studies to be completed at Empire State College.

DP Planner

A Web-based tool that Empire State College students and mentors use to build and submit their degree programs. A college login is required to access DP Planner.


Evaluators are experts in their field selected by the college to assess students' college-level learning acquired outside the traditional college academic experience. The evaluators for individualized prior learning assessment (iPLA) are either Empire State College faculty or external experts.

Faculty Assessment Committee

A center committee that reviews and approves the students' degree program proposal and portfolio (including iPLA recommendation reports) on behalf of the college faculty as a whole.

Approval by the committee is required before a degree program proposal and portfolio can be forwarded to the Office of Collegewide Academic Review.

Individualized Prior Learning Assessment (iPLA)

The process by which the college evaluates a student’s college-level learning obtained through experiences outside of the traditional college classroom (such as workplace training, personal research and special interests) and is not evaluated by other forms of assessment, such as CLEP.

Learning Description

A written request (usually in the form of an essay) which identifies and describes a student’s college-level learning and how the learning was acquired. A learning description is submitted for each area that the student is requesting an assessment of prior learning.


An Empire State College faculty member.

Mentors work closely and individually with students, serving as intellectual guides who help students define their educational goals and complete the tasks of degree planning, identify resources and evaluate students’ progress.

Office of Collegewide Academic Review (OCAR)

Located in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., this office completes a final policy compliance review and concurrence of the degree program plan portfolios and advanced standing requests.

Rationale Essay/Degree Program Rationale (DPR)

The explanation by the student of the purposes, design and significance of the student's individual degree program.

The essay also describes how the DP meets ESC’s requirements and expectations. It is likely that most students will develop their rationale early in their degree studies.

Recommendation Report

A description of the student's knowledge that provides justifications for the number of credits and any credit designations that an evaluator is recommending.


Empire State College’s term for a unit of learning, (i.e., course of study).

Supporting Material

Additional material attached to an individualized prior learning assessment (iPLA) to help demonstrate and support the student's learning.