Recognition of prior learning (work-based entry route)

To enroll in the PhD program you need, next to a sound command of the English language, one of three things:

  1. To prove that you’ve attained a masters degree;
  2. To prove that you’ve got sufficient working experience;
  3. To be able to present recognition of prior learning.

What is Recognition of Prior Learning?

This is where we accept a previous qualification as meeting the learning outcomes (or covering the syllabus) for a course or module, so you don’t need to take it as part of your degree. This reduces the number of modules (and the length of time) required to complete your doctoral degree.

Can I apply for recognition of prior learning?

If you have a lot of work or life experience in a particular industry or field, and you are thinking of enrolling in a program at SSM, RPL is worth considering. Recognition of prior learning (RPL) involves getting recognition for the skill and knowledge you’ve picked up from life experiences, work experiences, training courses, or workshops.

What are the benefits of applying for recognition of prior learning?

The benefits of RPL are that you: have your informal learning recognized, avoid studying topics you already know about, complete the program faster, pay less for the program.

How is Recognition of Prior Learning assessed?

Prior learning is assessed in several ways, and which method is used will depend on the situation you are in. The Admission Officer discusses your case with the Academic Director and comes up with the best solution to assess your prior learning experience. The Admissions Officer will get in touch with you to discuss the type of assessment you will need to do, and arrange a date and time for your assessment. The most common assessment methods are:

Portfolio. A portfolio involves compiling a file of evidence that relates to the learning outcome or unit standard you want credit for. Some examples of evidence could be a report, a set of accounts, a product you have made, or an essay.

Attestation. Attestation is when someone who is knowledgeable and respected in your area of knowledge gives their word (either written or verbal) that you have the required learning in this area. This person could be someone chosen by you, such as a client or employer.

Structured interview. This method involves you verbally explaining what you have done before an interview panel. You can have support people present as well.

Challenge assessment. This could be a practical demonstration, a written or oral test, or an assignment. A challenge assessment can be used when evidence from the other sources needs confirmation.

What else you need to know about the assessment

To be awarded RPL, prior learning must be current and relevant. For example, we will only look at learning gained in the past five years. Relevance can be important too, especially in relation to cultural, legal, social or professional practices. In this case, it may be important that you have worked or studied in a country-specific context.

What happens after the assessment?

We will send you written notice of the outcome of your application. A verbal indication by the assessor is not enough.
The outcome could be:

  • RPL awarded in full. You’ll receive a letter where SSM provisionally accepts your application. Then the ‘regular’ admissions process continues.
  • The requirement to give further evidence or be assessed further.
  • Application declined – it’s recommended that you enroll in our PhD + MRes top-up program.

Specifics of the RPL procedure

To start the RPL procedure, one must apply via the application form and in the application essay, one must mention that he wants to start this procedure. The Admissions Officer will contact you directly to start the collection of required artifacts. For the doctoral programs, your previous experience must cover relevant courses on the Master’s level (research methods, strategy, marketing, accounting, logistics, finance, etc.) The equivalent of 240 ECTS credits must be recognized to be granted the RLP.

There are costs involved in this process. SSM decides on a case-by-case basis what the fee for the RPL procedure is. It depends heavily on the amount of credits SSM has to evaluate by the earlier-mentioned methods.

Example situation 1: no master’s, but 180 ECTS bachelor’s

You have a bachelor’s in business and/or management. This program had the equivalent of 180 ECTS credits (1 credit equals 28 hours of study). For the past five years, you’ve been working in a company in a leading position. You do not have a master’s degree. In this case, we will need an attestation and a portfolio to assess your qualifications. For assessing these two artifacts, SSM charges € 2,000. This is non-refundable, and the possible outcomes are stated above.

Example situation 2: no bachelor’s

You do not have a bachelor’s degree or other formal documents proving the collection of ECTS credits. In this case, it is possible that SSM still accepts you to their doctoral program, but it takes effort, time, and money to get it done. This is a completely tailored situation and the minimum fee to start this process is € 7,500. This is non-refundable, and the possible outcomes are stated above.

Example situation 3: no master’s, but 240 ECTS bachelor’s

You have a bachelor’s in business and/or management. This program had the equivalent of 240 ECTS credits (1 credit equals 28 hours of study). For the past five years, you’ve been working in a company in a leading position. You do not have a master’s degree. In this case, we will need an attestation and a portfolio to assess your qualifications. For assessing these two artifacts, SSM charges € 500. This is non-refundable, and the possible outcomes are stated above.

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