EXCL Portfolio Development—FAQs

Application Deadlines

Applications for the Prior Learning program must be submitted two weeks prior to the start date of the session in which you plan to enroll. For specific session dates, please view the online Course Schedule.

Select the link below to read about a specific area or print the entire FAQ list.

Get answers to questions about:

Should I Enroll in Portfolio?

Eligibility and Application

Completing the Portfolio

Credit Awards

The EXCL 301 Course



Should I Enroll in Portfolio?

Is Portfolio a good choice for me?

Portfolio can help you meet your degree requirements faster and at a lower cost than completing classroom courses. Talk with your advisor about how Portfolio can fit into your degree program. Review Is Portfolio Assessment Right for You? or call Prior Learning at 240-684-2890 or 800-888-UMUC (8682), ext. 2890 to decide whether Portfolio is the best option for you.

Can I graduate with only Portfolio credits?

No. You must complete a minimum of 15 graded semester hours to be eligible for graduation. You may earn a maximum of 30 credits through experiential learning, which includes the Portfolio, course challenge exams and Co-operative Education.

How are Portfolio credits used in my degree?

Credits awarded through Portfolio can fulfill major (1/2 of courses needed to fulfill major can be used), minor (1/2 of courses needed to fulfill minor can be used), elective or general education requirements. Contact your academic advisor to assist you in determining the academic areas in which portfolio credits might be best used. 

Can I get credit for courses that are not in my degree plan?

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 Planning Worksheet for your intended degree. 

When is the best time to enroll in Portfolio?

You may enroll at any time in your program, although it is usually best to take the EXCL 301 course early in your UMUC career. We strongly suggest you complete at least 3 credits at UMUC before enrolling in the Portfolio program. This will give you time to meet with your advisor and ensure that Portfolio is right for you.

How do I apply?

Access the Portfolio application online. Applications must be received no later than two weeks before the beginning of the semester to allow time for processing.

What do I need to do to participate?

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 30 transferred credits
  • Be currently enrolled at UMUC and in good academic standing
  • Be pursuing an undergraduate degree—Portfolio is unavailable at the graduate level.

What is the timeline for participation?

Once you have met all eligibility requirements, you will be contacted, and you may register for EXCL 301, a3-credit course that helps you complete your Portfolio by the end of the session. Once the Portfolio is accepted by the course instructor, evaluation may take up to three months. When the evaluation is complete, you will receive a notice from the Office of Experiential Learning about your actual credit award.An updated degree progress report with those courses awarded will be available in your student portal.

In what formats are classes offered?

EXCL 301 is available online or on-site. Classroom locations are listed in the course schedule for the current semester.

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Completing the Portfolio

What goes into a Portfolio?

The Portfolio is a collection of materials that demonstrates what you have learned, where you learned it and how that learning equates to college-level learning. In written narratives and with supporting documentation, parallels are made between stated course objectives as shown on course syllabi and your learning through work, volunteer activities or other experiences. The EXCL 301 course guides you through the creation of your Portfolio.

Are syllabi available for courses that I may want to target?

Syllabi for many of the most frequently challenged UMUC courses are available to enrolled students from the Office of Prior Learning. All requests for syllabi should be sent via email to priorlearning@umuc.edu.

How can I prepare for the Portfolio process?

It is crucial to meet with your advisor and discuss EXCL 301. You can also look at the UMUC catalog and make a list of different learning experiences you have had since high school and note who can provide documentation of those experiences.

What does documentation consist of? Can I get a head start on it?

There are many kinds of documentation, most of which fall into two categories: direct and indirect. Direct documentation includes presentation of materials like computer programs you have written, art you have created or other things you have done, produced or accomplished directly. Indirect documentation includes letters from supervisors detailing your learning, newspaper articles explaining or listing your accomplishments or other documentation used to summarize the learning you have acquired.Documentation can also include lists of books you read to become competent in a certain area, attendance certificates from training events or other items that support your claims for credit.

This sounds like a lot of work! How can I get help?

The EXCL 301 course 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, online courses have dedicated writing —who have already been through the Portfolio process—to help you every step of the way.

Can I target all courses?

Only courses listed in the current catalogue can be targeted, with the exception of the following: EDCP100, LIBS150; COOP 486 A or B, Special topics and CAPL398A. All Capstone courses cannot be targeted for EXCL or Course Challenge credit.Please note that the academic departments reserve the right  to add courses to this list. 

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The EXCL 301 Course

When is the best time to enroll in the course?

The class is offered every semester in both on-site and online formats. The best time to enroll depends on your schedule; since EXCL 301 is an intensive course, we strongly suggest that you take no more than one other class while you complete EXCL 301.

What skills do I need to be successful?

To complete EXCL 301 within one semester, good time management and organizational skills will be valuable. EXCL 301 is a writing-intensive course and college-level writing skills are required.

Can I take EXCL 301 more than once?

Yes. Students who successfully complete EXCL 301 can enroll in the supplemental EXCL 001 course.

Is EXCL 301 graded?

If you complete EXCL 301 and submit a Portfolio, you receive an S (Satisfactory) grade, which does not affect your grade-point average. For credit you earn through Portfolio evaluation, you will also receive an S grade.

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Eligibility and Application

What are the eligibility requirements?

To participate in Portfolio, students 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 30 transferred credits*
  • Be currently enrolled at UMUC and in good academic standing
  • Be pursuing an undergraduate degree—Portfolio is unavailable at the graduate level.

* Please note that the change to the residency credit/transfer credit requirement takes effect Fall 2011.

What if I apply now and can't register for the class?

Students who apply but cannot register must reapply in the future, however the application fee is not charged until a student is registered.

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Credit Awards

Can I use only Portfolio credits to graduate?

No. A minimum of 15 semester hours in graded classes must be completed to graduate. Portfolio credits do not receive a grade, and you must have a minimum grade-point average of 2.0 to graduate.

How much credit can I earn?

Credit awards depend on many things, including how well you document your learning, how well your learning fits into your degree plan and previous transfer credits. It is possible to earn up to 30 credits through experiential learning (15 for the second bachelor's degree), which includes American Council on Education (ACE), military and other sources. Review the UMUC transfer credit policies for more information.

How much credit am I guaranteed to earn?

If you pass the course and complete a Portfolio that is accepted by your instructor, you will earn 3 credits for the course. There is no guarantee that you will receive additional credit from evaluation of your Portfolio. However, the historical credit award averages between 15 and 18 credits.

How is my Portfolio evaluated for credit?

Trained faculty advisors—experts in the academic area—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 those descriptions.

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

Policies are determined by the agency issuing the certification. Please check with your appropriate state or county agency for more information.

What if I took a 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 credit award?

If you are certain your award is incorrect you can request an appeal within 30 days of receiving an evaluation report. All appeals request must be in writing and directed to the Prior Learning office.

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How much does the EXCL program cost?*

EXCL 301 tuition


Maryland resident and active military




Enrollment fee (application


First evaluation fee (by academic area)


Evaluations for additional academic areas (per area)


Posting fee, per credit awarded




MD resident tuition


Application Fee


Two academic area evaluations


Posting fee for 18 credits


Total EXCL cost for 21 credits


Total time to complete a portfolio

One session


Compare to:

Cost for tuition for 21 credits through coursework


Time needed to complete 21 credits part-time

One to three years

* All fees are subject to change.

Can I use financial aid to pay for Portfolio?

Federal financial aid, Golden ID and employee tuition remission may be used for EXCL 301 tuition only. All other fees, including enrollment (application) and evaluation fees, are not covered by these programs. If your employer provides tuition assistance, be sure to verify whether fees will be covered as well.

Learn more about financial aid options at UMUC.

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