CUNY SPS Is Among Winners of Inaugural Credit for Prior Learning Equity Award

CAEL CPL Equity Award 2024 Seal

School Receives Honorable Mention for Innovative Jump Start program

The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) has been awarded a Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) Equity Awards honorable mention by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

Offered in partnership with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), the CPL Equity Awards were established to highlight and promulgate proven strategies for making Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)—which refers to various methods that postsecondary institutions use to evaluate and award credit for learning that comes from work, military, or life experiences—more accessible and commonplace among underserved adult learner populations.

CUNY SPS was acknowledged by CAEL specifically for the School’s Jump Start program, which aims to replace unforgiving transfer policies that punish applicants for mistakes made years ago with a strength-based approach that recognizes learning acquired outside of the college classroom. Under this approach, students whose former GPAs would have traditionally disqualified them are able to earn admission by demonstrating academic proficiency with a performance-based portfolio.

“It’s an honor for CUNY SPS to receive a 2024 CPL Equity Award for our innovative Jump Start initiative, which enables adult learners to translate the skills and knowledge they’ve developed outside of the classroom into an admissions portfolio,” said Jennifer Sparrow, interim senior associate dean for academic affairs at CUNY SPS, who spearheads the School’s CPL and Jump Start efforts. “I am pleased to see our work applying CPL principles to the admissions process recognized this way, and I hope this approach may inspire other schools seeking to help working adults return to college and realize their educational and professional goals.”

“We congratulate and thank the 2024 CPL Equity Award winners. We recognize their progress not only to honor their individual achievements but also to chart the way forward for the entire field,” said Earl Buford, CAEL president. “The practices proven effective by their success offer insight and inspiration that can help any institution advance its own CPL program so that more adult learners can benefit from its powerful impact.”

"We know that today’s adult learners are looking for efficient, workforce-relevant credentials, and the 2024 CPL Equity Award winners offer promising examples of how institutions of all types can leverage CPL to meet this need for learners we have historically struggled to serve," said Demarée Michelau, WICHE president. "As an organization dedicated to collaboration, innovation, and resource-sharing, WICHE is thrilled to join CAEL in sharing these exciting new approaches to CPL."

Accompanying this award, CAEL and WICHE have also released the report, Closing Equity Gaps in Credit for Prior Learning: Tools and Strategies to Recognize All Learning. This publication details the successes of the winners, including how they closed CPL equity gaps and the outcomes they achieved. The full report is available at

About CAEL
Recognizing that adult learners are the backbone of the U.S. economy, CAEL helps forge a clear, viable connection between education and career success, providing solutions that promote sustainable and equitable economic growth. CAEL opens doors to opportunity in collaboration with workforce and economic developers; postsecondary educators; employers and industry groups; and foundations and other mission-aligned organizations. By engaging with these stakeholders, CAEL fosters a culture of innovative, lifelong learning that helps individuals and their communities thrive. A national membership organization established in 1974, CAEL is part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. Learn more at 

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) works collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all residents of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. 

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

Press Contact
Prerna Dar
CUNY SPS Chief Marketing Officer