Prior Learning

Adult learners bring a wealth of learning experiences—from the workplace and community and volunteer activities—to the college classroom. At UMUC, we believe that learning acquired outside of the classroom is valuable and may be eligible for college credit.

  • Save time: The average degree-seeking student at UMUC who works full-time completes 9 credits of coursework per year. Successful completion of a Portfolio (a written description of your college-level learning and a collection of documents that verify your college-level learning) or course-challenge examinations can cut years off of the degree-completion process.
  • Save money: Credits awarded through Portfolio assessment are evaluated for a fee that is much lower than the cost of tuition.
  • Gain understanding: The Portfolio process helps you understand the many ways you have acquired learning through your full- or part-time jobs and community and volunteer activities outside the classroom.
  • Value knowledge: Earning credit through Prior Learning programs helps you find value in lifelong experiential learning.

UMUC provides two Prior Learning programs designed to translate experiential learning into college credit: Portfolio and Course Challenge.


Portfolio provides a unique way for you to document your college-level learning through previous experience. You are guided through the process in two classes: 

  • EXCL 301 During this 3-credit course, you create a portfolio describing and documenting your learning experiences. The portfolio is evaluated by faculty members who determine the amount of credit you should be awarded.
  • EXCL 001 If you want to target more courses after completing EXCL 301, you may enroll in this noncredit course, which is offered online twice each semester. You are given access to EXCL 301 course materials and work at your own pace to develop additional portfolios for faculty review. Note: No more than 30 credits may be awarded through Portfolio in both classes combined.

Please read frequently asked questions about Portfolio development before applying for these courses. 

How to Apply for Portfolio

To apply, go to MyUMUC and select Student Center. Go to My Academics in the left panel (not the menu bar on top) and scroll down to Experiential Learning. Choose Apply for EXCL 301 (or Apply for EXCL 001, if you have already completed EXCL 301 successfully). Applications must be received no later than two weeks before the beginning of the session to allow time for processing. 

Application Deadlines

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, please view the online academic calendar

Course Challenge

Through Course Challenge, you can earn credit by passing the equivalent of a final exam. Credit can be earned for almost any undergraduate course for which UMUC can prepare and administer a suitable examination or assessment. (Some courses are excluded.) Read the course challenge criteria to see if you qualify.  

How to Apply for Course Challenge

Apply online or ask the Prior Learning office for a form.