For Non-Traditional Learners: Your Guide to APEL in Malaysia

Imagine these scenarios. 

a) You are interested in pursuing higher education, but did not meet the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) requirements

b) You qualified to enter a college or university, but due to financial restraints, you decided to get a job first

c) You were not interested in continuing your studies back then, but now, you see its value for your career and personal growth

Do any of these describe you? Is not having the right grades or qualifications holding you back? Do you wish your work or life experiences count towards continuing your academic journey?  

The Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) in Malaysia might be your solution.

What is APEL?

Established by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), APEL offers a unique pathway for individuals to access higher education. It recognises the skills and knowledge you've acquired throughout your professional and personal journey, and assesses their alignment with specific learning outcomes. Successful APEL certification, depending on type, grants you entry into undergraduate or postgraduate programmes, or even awards you academic credits.

Catering to working adults and lifelong learners, APEL bridges between real-world experience and formal academic qualifications. This system evaluates and acknowledges work and life experiences, offering a unique route to higher education.

This means that even if you do not meet traditional requirements or academic qualifications to further your studies, an APEL certificate enables you to access a programme of study or gain credits.

Types of APEL in Malaysia

Depending on your study objectives and personal situation, you can choose from 4 types of APEL assessments: APEL. A (Access), APEL. C (Credit Award), APEL. Q (Qualification), and APEL.M (Micro-credentials).  

APEL.A provides those with work experience the opportunity to attain admission or access to a programme of study. Through an assessment of your formal education, as well as your past work and learning experiences, you can access 6 levels of qualifications, namely:

  • Certificate
  • Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree
  • Doctoral Degree

APEL.C, meanwhile, recognises and awards you with credits for learning you have done by  assessing your prior experience. You can earn up to 30% of your graduating credits for all levels of education if your work or learning experiences match the learning outcomes of your selected course. This could help you complete a programme of study faster. 

There is also APEL.Q, which allows you to get an academic qualification using your extensive experience. Your experiential learning can be transformed into credits for an entire study programme via a series of assessment tasks, and you will only need to complete a capstone course from the programme curriculum.

Finally, APEL.M enables candidates who lack formal academic qualifications to enter a tertiary-level programme, but have attained the equivalent of at least 50% of graduating credits via unbundled micro-credentials, to gain admission into the programme. Upon admission, they need only complete the remaining credits not obtained via micro-credentials.

APEL Malaysia

Why Choose APEL?

The benefits of APEL are as diverse as the individuals who utilise it. These include:

1. Gain recognition for your experience
Even without the required grades or formal qualifications, you can pursue university-level academic qualifications with your experience. 

2. Fast-track your education
With APEL, you can reduce your overall study duration or the steps required via traditional pathways. As long as your prior learning aligns with the learning outcomes, you can receive certain exemptions. 

3. Save on costs
Save on tuition fees by bypassing courses or traditional study levels thanks to your work and life experiences.

4. Boost your career prospects
APEL can be your first step towards getting the relevant qualifications to enhance your employability and open the doors to new opportunities.

Who Should Apply for APEL?

You can consider APEL if you fit any of the following descriptions:

✔ Working adults with extensive professional experience, but lacking formal qualifications.

✔ Returning students who have taken a break from formal education and aim to re-enter academia.

✔ Ambitious professionals seeking a career change and require specific degree qualifications.

✔ Adult learners who possess valuable skills or non-formal knowledge seeking to earn academic qualifications or credentials.

Take APEL at Sunway University

Sunway University is recognised by MQA as an APEL assessment centre, in line with the university’s commitment to provide an opportunity for learners of different age groups and from different study/work backgrounds to boost their professional and personal standing. 


The Sunway University APEL.A assessment programme can be done entirely online, making it an ideal choice for:

  • Busy working professionals
  • Those who do not live near campus
  • Individuals generally seeking time, travel, and overall cost savings

Students who complete the APEL.A pathway via Sunway University, an APEL assessment centre with “internal” status (PPA Dalaman), will get to pursue their academic programme of choice exclusively at the institution.  

The programme is currently open to Malaysian citizens. Other requirements are as follows:


As the pathway for students to gain course credit exemptions, APEL.C has the following requirements and criteria:


There’s More Than One Path to Success

Pursuing higher education does not mean having to follow the traditional route. APEL provides a pathway for individuals with substantial work and life experiences to achieve the higher education qualifications they’ve always wanted – including a master’s degree. 

If you're an adult aged 30 years and up with working experience and your aim is to earn a master's degree, consider the APEL.A pathway at Sunway University. Get in touch with our dedicated Education Counsellors, who are on hand to answer your questions about APEL.A, eligibility criteria, and pre-application requirements.  

Once you have gained the APEL.A certificate, you can seamlessly enrol in any of our globally recognised 100% online master’s degree programmes and take your career to the next level. 

It’s never too late to continue your educational journey for personal and professional success. Start now with APEL!