Learn all about prior learning at University of Maryland University College.

FAQs: Deciding to Enroll

Is Prior Learning Portfolio a good choice for me? +

Portfolio can help you meet degree requirements more quickly and with less cost than completing classroom courses, but it is not for everyone. Talk with your advisor about how Portfolio can fit into your program. You can also e-mail Prior Learning at priorlearning@umuc.edu to discuss your questions.

When is the best time to enroll in Prior Learning Portfolio? +

You may enroll at any time in your program, although it is usually best to take EXCL 301 early in your UMUC career. We recommend that you complete at least 3 credits at UMUC before beginning the Prior Learning Portfolio program. This will give you time to meet with your advisor to be sure that Portfolio is right for you.

FAQs: Eligibility and Application Requirements

What are the eligibility requirements for Prior Learning Portfolio? +

To participate in Portfolio, you must:

  • Have an official evaluation/degree progress report that is no more than six months old
  • Show evidence of a college-level writing course or a satisfactory score on the writing placement test
  • Have completed at least 3 credits at UMUC (with a GPA of 2.0 or higher) or have 30 transferred credits
  • Be currently enrolled at UMUC and in good academic standing
  • Be pursuing an undergraduate degree (Portfolio is not available at the graduate level)

How do I apply to Prior Learning Portfolio? +

To apply, go to MyUMUC and click on Student Center. Go to My Academics in the left panel and scroll down to Experiential Learning. Choose Apply for EXCL 301 (or Apply for EXCL 001, if you have already completed EXCL 301 successfully). Your application is good for one semester.

What is the application deadline for Prior Learning Portfolio? +

Applications for EXCL 301 and 001 must be submitted two weeks before the start date of the session in which you plan to enroll. For specific session dates, view the academic calendar.

What if I apply now and can't register for the Prior Learning Portfolio class? +

If you apply but do not register, you must reapply when you plan to take the class; however, you will not be charged the application fee until you are registered.

What happens after my application for Prior Learning Portfolio is accepted? +

After your application is accepted, you will be notified via e-mail that you may register for EXCL 301, the eight-week 3-credit course that guides you through the completion of a portfolio for evaluation. When the evaluation is complete, the credit award report is available to the Office of Student Affairs, who decides where awarded credit will be placed in your program.

FAQs: The EXCL 301 Course

What skills do I need to be successful in Prior Learning Portfolio? +

To complete EXCL 301 within one session, you need good time management and organizational skills. You will also need college writing skills, as this is a writing-intensive course. Since EXCL 301 is demanding, we recommend that you take no more than one other class at the same time.

Can I take Prior Learning Portfolio more than once? +

If you complete EXCL 301 successfully, you will be eligible to take the supplemental course, EXCL 001, which allows you to submit documentation for courses not previously targeted. If you earn a grade of D or F in EXCL 301, you must repeat EXCL 301 to earn portfolio credit.

In what formats is Prior Learning Portfolio offered? +

EXCL 301 and x001 are currently available online only.

How is EXCL 301 graded? +

EXCL 301 is graded S, D, or F. If you complete EXCL 301 and submit a portfolio, you receive an S (satisfactory) grade, which does not affect your GPA. Credit awarded through portfolio evaluation also receives an S grade.

FAQs: Completing the Portfolio

What goes into a Prior Learning Portfolio? +

A portfolio is a collection of materials that documents what you have learned, where you learned it, and how that learning equates to college-level learning. Parallels are made between stated course outcomes, as shown on course syllabi, and your learning through work, volunteering, and other experiences by way of written narratives. A faculty member guides you through the creation of the portfolio.

Are syllabi available for courses that I may want to target for Prior Learning Portfolio? +

Students may target active UMUC undergraduate courses only. Syllabi may be found in the online interactive schedule of classes.

How can I prepare for the Prior Learning Portfolio process? +

It is crucial that you speak with your academic advisor and discuss your intention to take EXCL 301. You can also begin to look at the UMUC catalog and target courses you feel may be similar in outcomes to the learning you have achieved through your work, volunteer activities, and personal experiences. You can also begin to list all the pertinent experience you've had since high school and begin to think about who you can approach to provide documentation.

What types of documentation are appropriate for the Prior Learning Portfolio? +

There are many kinds of documentation, most of which fall into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct documentation includes materials like computer programs you have written, art you have created, and other things you have done. Indirect documentation includes letters from supervisors detailing your learning, newspaper articles about your accomplishments, and other ways that demonstrate the learning you have acquired. These can include lists of books you read to become competent in an area, attendance certificates at training events, and other items that support your claims for credit.

How can I get help with Prior Learning Portfolio? +

EXCL 301 guides you through the process of learning about and creating an experiential portfolio. The faculty members teaching the course are experienced and have helped hundreds of students like you complete the process. In addition, EXCL 301 courses have dedicated writing advisors to help you with the writing process.

FAQs: Credit Awards

Can I graduate using only Prior Learning Portfolio credits? +

No. You must earn a minimum of 15 credits in classes graded A, B, C, etc., to graduate. Portfolio credits do not receive a standard grade.

How much credit can I earn with Prior Learning Portfolio? +

Credit awards depend on many things, including how well you document your learning, how well your learning fits into your degree plan, and how many credits you transferred to UMUC. It is possible to earn credits through experiential learning, which includes credit based on American Council on Education recommendations, military experience, and other sources. Review the UMUC transfer credit policies for more information.

How much credit am I guaranteed to earn with Prior Learning Portfolio? +

If you complete a portfolio that is accepted by your faculty member and pass the course, you will earn 3 credits for EXCL 301. There is no guarantee that you will receive credit from evaluation of your portfolio.

How is my Prior Learning Portfolio evaluated for credit? +

Trained faculty subject matter experts review portfolios. Evaluation is a complex process that takes into account not only how well you describe what you have learned but also how well your documentation supports it.

How are Prior Learning Portfolio credits used in my degree? +

Credits awarded through Portfolio can fulfill major, minor, elective, or general education requirements. However, no more than half the credits for the major and the minor may be earned through Portfolio. Contact your academic advisor to assist you in determining the academic areas in which Portfolio credits might be used best.

Can I get credit for courses that are not in my degree plan through Prior Learning Portfolio? +

Perhaps, but the purpose of taking EXCL 301 is to help you earn your degree by translating what you already know into coursework needed for your degree. One of the first things to do is to become familiar with the degree requirements for your intended degree.

Can Prior Learning Portfolio credits be used toward fulfilling state certification requirements for teaching or other careers? +

Policies are determined by the agency issuing the certification. Check with your academic advisor before applying to EXCL to be sure.

What if I took a Prior Learning Portfolio course at another school? +

Transfer policies can affect how much credit can be earned through Portfolio. Check with your advisor before enrolling.

What if I don't agree with my Prior Learning Portfolio credit award? +

There is no guarantee that you will receive the credit award you expect. The Prior Learning office trains evaluators, many of whom have been evaluating portfolios for years. If you are certain your award is incorrect, you may appeal within 30 days of receiving an evaluation report. All appeals must be in writing and directed to the Prior Learning office.

FAQs: Fees

How much does the Prior Learning Portfolio cost? +

Visit the tuition archive and select a semester to view Prior Learning fees.

Can I use financial aid to pay for Prior Learning Portfolio? +

Federal financial aid, Golden ID benefits, and employee tuition remission can be used toward tuition for EXCL 301 only. All other fees, including enrollment (application) and evaluation fees, as well as the Prior Learning Credit Award Fee, are not covered by these programs. If your employer provides tuition assistance, you need to verify whether fees will be included. Learn more about financial aid options at UMUC.