Frequently Asked Questions About Portfolio Development at UMUC

Deciding to Enroll

Is 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 call Prior Learning 240-684-2890 or 800-888- 8682, ext. 2-2890, to discuss your questions.

When is the best time to enroll in EXCL 301?

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

Eligibility and Application Requirements

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.

How do I apply?

To apply, go to the student portal of MyUMUC and click on 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).

What is the deadline to apply?

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 online academic calendar.

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

Once your application is accepted, you will be notified via e-mail that you may now 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.

The EXCL 301 Course

What skills do I need to be successful?

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 EXCL 301 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 would have to repeat EXCL 301 to earn portfolio credit.

In what formats are classes offered?

EXCL 301 is available online or in hybrid format. Hybrid sessions are listed in the schedule of classes by location for each session.

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.

Completing the Portfolio

What goes into a portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of materials that documents (proves) 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, volunteerism, and other experiences, by way of written narratives. An EXCL 301 faculty member guides you through the creation of the portfolio.

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

Syllabi for many of the UMUC courses are available to enrolled students. You must contact to request copies of syllabi.

How can I prepare for the 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 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 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.

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

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.

Credit Awards

Can I graduate using only 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?

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 (ACE) recommendations, military experience, and other sources. Review the UMUC transfer credit policies for more information.

How much credit am I guaranteed to earn?

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. However, typical credit awards average 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 it.

How are 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?

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.

Can 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 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?

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.


How much does the EXCL program cost?*

Enrollment fee (application)


EXCL 301 tuition

Regular tuition rate

EXCL 001 tuition


First evaluation fee (by academic area)


Evaluations for additional academic areas (per area)


Posting fee, per credit awarded


Example (Fall 2013)

Enrollment fee


Maryland resident tuition


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


    Total cost for tuition for 21 credits through coursework


    Time needed to complete 21 credits part-time

One–three years

*All fees are subject to change.

Can I use financial aid to pay for 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, 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.