At University of Maryland University College, our students bring a wealth of experiences—from the workplace and community and volunteer activities—to the classroom. We value the learning you've acquired outside of the classroom, and we offer ways to turn those experiences into credit by demonstrating what you know.

Benefits of Prior Learning

  • 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 the Prior Learning assessment are evaluated for a fee that is 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.

How to Earn Prior Learning Credit

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 courses: 

  • 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 x001: In this noncredit course, which is offered online twice each semester, you are given access to EXCL 301 course materials and you 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 our 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 x001, if you have already completed EXCL 301 successfully).

Application Deadlines

Applications for EXCL 301 and x001 must be submitted before registering for the course. For specific session dates, please view the 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.

Jeep Fortuna Student Alum Education Teaching

While I was in construction for 15 years, I reached out to UMUC, was enrolled as an undergrad, and went through Prior Learning, which is a great program that gave me credit for all of that experience I had outside of the classroom.

Jeep Fortuna

Distance Education and E-Learning Master's Degree with Distance Education Technology Specialization

Apply for Prior Learning

You'll need to apply and be accepted to UMUC before you can participate in Prior Learning.