About the national labor college

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Frequently Asked Questions


Is the National Labor College accredited?

Yes.  The NLC is accredited by the Middle State Commission on Higher Education,   3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (256) 284-5000. To look us up on their site or for more information about how accreditation works and what it means, go to www.msche.org.

What degrees do you grant?

The National Labor College grants a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Labor Studies, Business Administration, Construction Management and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Emergency Management.

What is the difference between the NLC’s School of Labor Studies and the School of Professional Studies? The School of Labor Studies has six majors (Union Leadership and Administration, Safety and Health, Labor Education, Labor History, Political Economy of Labor, and a general major in Labor Studies that combines courses from these four areas) that explore issues of relevance to the labor movement, unions, and working people. The School of Professional Studies has three majors (and more in development) that are designed to help working people advance in the job and in their careers. All majors in the School of Professional Studies have two required courses in labor studies. Is dedicated to fields of study within the broader workforce.

What is an “upper-level” college?

Unlike four –year or two year institutions, the NLC is licensed and accredited as an upper-level, degree completion institution; most of our courses in the degree programs are offered at the equivalent of the junior and senior year. 

If I have less than 56 credits will I am able to attend the college? Yes, you may enroll in introductory elective courses and the Prior Learning Assessment Workshop. However, you will not be eligible for financial aid until you have earned 56 credits and have been “admitted” into a degree program.

How long are the semesters?

The National Labor College offer three semesters a year: fall, spring, and summer. Courses in the school of Labor Studies may be 15 or 7 weeks long. Courses in the School of Professional Studies majors are offered in 7 weeks terms (term A and term B) within the 15 week semester. SPS students are eligible to take fully online 7 and 15 week elective courses in the School of Labor Studies catalog.

Do I have to come to campus to attend classes?

It depends. The School of Professional Studies (SPS) has no residency requirements. The School of Labor Studies offers courses in multiple formats; blended, fully online and residential. Most majors in the School for Labor Studies can be can be completed fully online making travel unnecessary. However, courses in some of majors (Labor History and Political Economy of Labor) are only offered in the blended format, and therefore require attendance during the residence week. Most of the week long Union Skills courses are offered in residential format only.

What happens during the SLS Residency?

The SLS Residency that is required in the blended classes typically falls during week five of the term and attendance is mandatory. Students begin the semester online, come to campus for four days, and then finish the semester online. The online component of all NLC classes is delivered via the NLC Learning Management System: http://learning.nlc.edu/. 

If you attend the SLS Residency you will need to book travel and room reservations* in advance. The class schedule for the SLS Residency has two class sessions (morning and afternoon) that run each of the four days students are on campus.

*For reservations and room rates, please call 800-462-4237.

How do I use the NLC Learning Management System?

The NLC uses a program called Moodle to deliver its classes online.  In order to gain access to the system you will need to set up a user name and password using your student id number after your are admitted to the NLC.

Do I have to attend online class at the same time every week?

Courses are “asynchronous,” which means that there is no set time during the week in which you must be present online. You have the flexibility to complete your assignments and post comments to your instructors and other students in a fully online discussion session known as “The Forum.” In every class participation in the online sessions is mandatory and attendance is recorded.

How long will it take to finish my degree?

How long it takes largely depends on the number of credits that you are able to transfer in towards the 120 credits needed for a BA or BS, the type of degree you choose and your average course load each semester. Students enrolled in the School of Labor Studies can transfer in up to 90 credits, take up to 12 credits a semester and are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits at the NLC. This can sometimes be done in as little as 18 months. Students enrolled in the School for Professional Studies can transfer in up to 84 credits, must complete 36 credits at the NLC, in addition to pre-requisites and general education requirements, if applicable.

Do you offer graduate degrees?

While the NLC does not offer graduate degrees, we have established partnerships with four graduate institutions to offer Masters Degrees in a format similar to our undergraduate program so they are accessible to full-time working people.  For more information on graduate programs, visit our website at http://www.nlc.edu/educationalPrograms/graduateStudies.html


What credits do I need for admission to the National Labor College?

To be “admitted” into a degree program you must have at least 56 credit hours. If you have less than 56 credits, you may be “accepted” so that you can begin introductory coursework.

What if I have less than 56 credits?

You may still enroll and take classes as a non-matriculated “degree seeking” student. You can also enroll in the PLA Workshop and complete a portfolio, where you can earn up to 30 credits for prior learning that took place outside the classroom The NLC has a partnership with a two-year institution, Penn Foster College, where you can complete some of your general education requirements while you are completing course work at NLC.

How do I apply to the National Labor College?

You can apply for either the School of Labor Studies or the School of Professional Studies online at http://www.nlc.edu/new-students/application.

Re-Admittance Policy

If you have not been enrolled in classes for more than a year, you must submit a re-admit form to Admissions Office.  There is a $25 re-admit fee.  It is important to note that if you are re-admitting to the College, you do so under the current catalogue policies and procedures. You should not assume all of the credits you earned in the past will still apply towards your degree. If you are thinking about re-admitting to the College, you should contact an Enrollment Coordinator (800 427-8500), who can connect you with an advisor for an appraisal of your academic standing.


What are the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts/Sciences degree?

1. You must complete a total of 120 semester credits through a combination of transfer credits from accredited colleges or institutions of higher education, ACE assessed union apprenticeships or training programs, military service, PLA credit, and National Labor College coursework.

2. You must successfully complete General Education Requirements. These requirements may be completed at another accredited institution, or at the National Labor College. In some cases, they can also be met through assessed union apprenticeships.  Developmental courses cannot be used to fulfill the General Education Requirements.  The General Education Requirements are at least 3 semester credits in each of the following disciplines:

  • English Composition

  • Arts and Humanities

  • Mathematics

  • Biological and Physical Sciences

  • Social and Behavioral Science

3. Labor Studies students must complete 10 courses (30 credit hours) to complete their major. This includes 5 core courses (Introduction to Labor Studies, Labor and the Economy, Comparative Research Methods Senior Seminar, And Senior Project) and 15 credits in their individual, either at the NLC* or through an approved partnership. NLC week-long Union Skills courses taught for college credit, and one course may be used either as an SLS elective or to count as one course in a student’s major.  

4. Students in the School of Professional Studies enroll in a cohort program (where students progress through the program together) and must complete a minimum of 36 credits in their major in addition to pre-requisites and general education requirements, if applicable.


How do I know if my previous college work will be accepted as transfer credits by the National Labor College?

In most cases, all classes with a grade of “C” or better from an accredited college are transferable to the NLC.  The state of Maryland limits the number of lower-level (e.g., 100-200/freshman-sophomore) credits we can accept from an associate’s degree granting institution to 70.  The NLC can accept up to 90 credits through a combination of transfer credit from ACE, PLA and or upper level credit from a four year college.

We cannot accept credit for developmental or remedial coursework even if it was taken at an accredited college. All transfer credit is accepted at the discretion of the Registrar’s Office at the NLC. We cannot accept grades of S without documentation from the institution that it meets the equivalent of a C or better.

I went to college over 20 years ago, are the credits still good?

Our policy is that college credits don’t expire. Even if you took accredited college classes 20 or 30 years ago, we will accept those credits in transfer if they meet all other requirements.

How can I find out how many of my credits will transfer?

To determine which credits can be applied to your NLC degree, our Registrar’s office needs to review your official transcripts.  In order for us to do this, you first must complete an application to the College and pay the $60 application fee.

Where do I send transcripts?

Request official sealed transcripts of credits from: prior colleges or universities, military training, ACE assessed apprenticeships, training, or licenses to be sent directly to the National Labor College Student Service Center 925 Oak Street Scranton, PA 18515-1272 Attn: Transcripts Department 1272. Applicants are advised to request unofficial copies for their personal records and to review the transfer credit guidelines in our course catalog. What if the College I went to is no longer open?

The Department of Education in the state where the college was located will assign another school to be the custodian of records so that former students can access to their transcripts. Contact that state’s Dept of Education to find out which school you need to contact. 

Do you accept international transcripts?

The NLC accepts credits earned at recognized institutions outside the United States.  Applicants who have attended a college or university outside of the United States must arrange, at their own expense, to have their academic records evaluated on a course-by-course an external credential evaluator such as Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE), a non-profit public service organization, located at P.O. Box 514070, Milwaukee, WI 53203-3470 or by World Education Services (WES), a not-for-profit organization specializing in foreign credential evaluation.


Is my training in the military assessed for academic credit?

You may receive college credit for training you received in any of the military services. The American Council on Education has evaluated military training for college credit. Each service has a method for obtaining a personal copy of your transcript and having an official copy sent to the Registrar’s Office.

  • Army: To receive your Army, National Guard or Reserve transcript, go to the Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript Service (AARTS) web site, http://aarts.army.mil/. There are links for personal copies and official copies on the site.

  • Navy/Marines: For Navy or Marine transcripts, use the Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART) web site, https://www.navycollege.navy.mil/transcript.html.

  • Air Force: The Community College of the Air Force issues Air Force transcripts. Visit their transcript web site for directions on requesting your transcript, http://www.au.af.mil/au/ccaf/active_transc.html.

  • Coast Guard: To get the form to receive your Coast Guard transcript, go to the U.S. Coast Guard Institute web site at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cgi/forms.html and click on the U.S. Coast Guard Transcript Request link. The request form must be submitted via regular mail.

If the military cannot provide you with a transcript of your training, you will need to submit a DD214 to the NLC Registrar. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository for records of military personnel who have been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard. You can request your DD214 via regular mail. To expedite this process, use the online eVetRecs system web site: http://www.archives.gov/research_room/vetrecs/index.html.


Can I get credit for my apprenticeship training?

Many apprenticeship training programs have been assessed for academic credit by the American Council on Education and/or by a number of community colleges.  We accept ACE credits and accredited community college transcripts with academically assessed apprenticeships as long as the apprenticeship has been assessed and broken out into course offerings on the transcript.  Your Local or International Union Apprentice Director should know whether your apprenticeship has been assessed for credit.  Make sure to send a copy of your ACE transcript of certificate of completion of apprenticeship to the NLC along with your application form.

How do I know if my apprenticeship has been ACE reviewed?

  • While the list changes over time, at present the following unions have some form of apprenticeship assessed for credit: IBEW, Ironworkers, Asbestos Workers, SMWIA, UA, and Elevator Constructors.  In addition, some local and international unions have segments of apprenticeship programs offered through community colleges, and the NLC can review those transcripts to evaluate credit. The National Elevator Constructor Union members may get credit for their apprenticeship through Ivy Tech State College.

  • The American Postal Workers Union members may get credit for their apprenticeship through Wayne State University.

  • The United Association members may get credit for their apprenticeship through Washtenaw Community College.

What if I have an apprenticeship or training that has not been assessed for academic credit?

You may request credit for non-assessed apprenticeships through the PLA (prior Learning Assessment process.


I have taken various classes offered by my union.  Do those count for credit?

They may, depending on the union and the class.  The NLC has partnerships with a number of unions, and within those partnerships some union courses have been assessed for credit.  Your international union apprenticeship and/or education director should have the list of classes that have been assessed by the NLC.  Once you apply, we can review certificates training transcripts sent to us by your union.  In addition to AFL-CIO courses, we currently have partnerships with the following unions and have assessed some courses for credit: AFGE, APWU, AFSCME, CSEA (California), CWA, IAFF, IAMAW, IBEW, Ironworkers, LIUNA, OAPSE/AFSCME, SMWIA, and USWA.


NLC has formed partnerships with a number of educational institutions in order to permit joint enrollment in these programs while accumulating credits toward a BA degree and BTPS from NLC. For a list of these institutions, see the current NLC catalog.

In most cases, if you are jointly enrolled, you can transfer up to 15 credits from these partnership programs toward the requirements for a BA in Labor Studies. You must also successfully complete NLC’s core curriculum and meet all other requirements in order to obtain a Labor Studies degree from NLC


What is prior learning assessment?   

Prior learning assessment, typically referred to as PLA, is s process where NLC students can earn up to 30 college credit for learning they acquired outside of a traditional college classroom.  The types of learning experiences that qualify for credit will vary from student to student.  The key to earning credit lies in your ability to clearly demonstrate the learning through written essays, documentation and other sources of verification in the portfolio process. For more information about the NLC’s PLA Program, please click here.

Is there a fee to review my PLA Portfolio?

Yes, the portfolio review fee is $250 for the first 15 credits and $250 for review of 16 to 30 credits.

Do I have to pay any fee for each credit awarded for my experiential essays?

No. While many schools charge by credit, and prior learning assessment can be quite costly, the NLC only charges a flat fee for the evaluation as a whole.

What is the maximum number of credits I can receive for experiential essays?

30. 15 in any single category such as welding, construction, etc.

Are there limitations on the content areas I can use as the basis of my experiential essays?

Yes. Experiential essays will be accepted in the content areas that are covered within the majors, certificates, or areas of concentration for any of the NLC degree programs. At the discretion of the NLC, other content areas may be reviewed depending on the availability of NLC faculty with documented competence in a specific field. All other content areas may be reviewed, at the discretion of the NLC, but the student may be required to pay an additional fee for an external review. A student will be notified if an essay does not fall within these guidelines. The student then has the option to substitute the essays with new essays that fall within these guidelines or agree to the additional fee. In almost all cases, external reviews will take a significantly longer time to complete.

Can I write experiential essays to meet any of the general education requirements for graduation?

No. All general education requirements must be met by completing a minimum of three semester credits within the required general education disciplines. While these credits can be transferred from an accredited institution, they cannot be earned through the PLA process. You may, however, write essays for these courses to fulfill your credit requirements.

Can I get credit for CEUs (continuing education credits)?

No. CEUs are not the same thing as academic credit, and these non-credit units are generally best used as documentation for PLA essays.

Can I receive transcript credits for any licenses I possess?

In most cases, simply having a license (such as real estate, aviation, inspector, FCC, etc.) does not count for credit. The major exception is the A&P License (airframe and powerplant). Generally, all others must come in through the experiential credit route, and you will be required to write the appropriate essays and provide documentation.

What are the standards for experiential essays?

All PLA essays must include a course name, description, college name and website, detailed analysis of your experiences and learning, and clearly referenced documentation.

Course Description: First, ensure that the course you have presented is from an accredited college or university (this should be prominent on the website, try the “About Us” section or something similar). Set off your course description from the text of your essay to ensure clarity and include the semester hours (s.h.) or credits available. Include the website, so the evaluators can check your information.

Length: Essays must be a minimum of three pages at a maximum of 12 point text size, single spaced (approximately 1,500 to 2,000 words, or about a single-spaced page per credit). If your topic takes longer to develop, then your essay will be longer; you should be sure to fully demonstrate your experiences AND reflect on your learning within the context of the course description you are using. This length requirement is exclusive of course descriptions and other auxiliary content. Students who do not meet this minimum will not be awarded the requested credits.

Documentation: Build in references to your documents in your essay to ensure that reviewers understand how the documents serve as evidence of your learning. Present your documents and essays in a clear, professional manner, so evaluators can efficiently review your work. For example, when developing what you learned from a training experience, you might refer to the certificate you earned and included as documentation like this (See Exhibit A for a certificate that verifies this training.) Then label your documents so the evaluators can find them easily (right after the text of your essay).

What types of documentation do I need for my experiential essays?

All essays must have documentation: a certificate, picture, letter, CD with examples, etc., to help the evaluators confirm students’ learning experiences. Students who do not include documentation with each essay that is clearly connected AND REFERENCED with a call out in the text (see example above) to the learning being discussed will not earn credit. Documents and other submissions become the property of the NLC and will not be returned.

What about apprenticeship credits?

Only ACE (American Council on Education) reviewed apprenticeships may potentially count as direct credit. Other ways that apprenticeships come in are with community colleges that offer associate degrees for apprenticeship programs. Other apprenticeships must come in through the experiential credit essay and documentation route.

Are all apprenticeships worth the same amount of credits?

No, the maximum numbers offered in an ACE reviewed program may not necessarily be awarded to each apprentice. Variables such as year of graduation, specific courses taken within a program and apprenticeship concentration will impact the final total number of credits awarded. Each apprenticeship certificate is reviewed individually, and students should not assume they will be awarded the highest number mentioned for a particular apprenticeship.

How long does it take to review my portfolio and hear back from the NLC?

Generally, you should allow six to eight weeks for the process to be completed. Portfolios that need additional work will obviously take longer to complete. Holidays, degree weeks, etc. may also delay portfolio review. If you are on campus and are waiting for news about your portfolio, you should stop by Academic Services and inquire.

How should I forward my portfolio to the NLC?

Send your portfolio by UPS or the USPS in a manner that allows you to track the package and guarantee that it arrives at the NLC; there is no need to pay for express rates or other charges. Simply ship the most cost effective way possible. You can also personally drop off your portfolio to the admissions office on campus. In all cases use the campus address (NLC Admissions, 10000 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring MD 20903). Portfolios are processed by NLC’s admissions coordinator, who will confirm receipt and route portfolios to the faculty evaluators.

Should I make a copy of my portfolio before I mail it?

Yes, yes, and yes. Do not include original certificates; no materials will be returned to students.

Who do I contact if I have questions concerning the PLA process, writing my essays, or providing documentation?

While you are enrolled in the PLA workshop, your instructors will be available to answer your questions. Your advisor is also a valuable resource.
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