Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

As an institution that embraces the diversity of its students, the University of Maine is committed to the academic needs of its adult learners. Often, adults enter or re-enter UMaine after years in the work force, the military and a wealth of other life experiences. In recognition of the skills and learning obtained in these areas, UMaine offers a variety of Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) options.

Student Eligibility: Students matriculated into a degree program may be awarded credit for prior learning for subjects comparable or equivalent to University of Maine courses. Departments conduct reviews of prior learning at their discretion. Students seeking a review should contact their Dean’s Office.

Award of Credit and Transcription:

  • Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) will be awarded based on assessment of documented college-level learning, which demonstrates achievement (at a grade level of C- or better) of learning outcomes for a specific requirement, discipline area elective, or general elective in accordance with institutional policy.
  • Students may earn CPL credit for any requirement at any point in their program, unless there is a unique program requirement restricting this.
  • No student may receive credit twice for the same course.
  • The credit will display as transfer credit on the transcript.
  • Credits awarded through the CPL process do not carry quality points and are not calculated in the grade point average. When credit has been awarded through the CPL process, the students will be notified by a message in their MaineStreet Student Center.

The following are methods by which Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) may be awarded:

Standardized Exams: Students must request to have an official score report sent directly to the Office of Student Records. The number of credits students may earn through these exams varies.

  • Advancement Placement Exam (AP):  AP exams are accepted for credit as national examinations (for University policy regarding these exams, see the Admission section of this catalog).
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP) /DSST (Formerly DANTES Subject Standardized Test) (15 credits limitation):
    • CLEP exams are administered through College Success Programs (East Annex Building). In addition to a fee paid directly to CLEP, College Success Programs assesses a $30 fee that will be charged to the student’s account through the Bursar’s Office. An additional $50 feel will be assessed by the English Department for evaluation of essays related to CLEP Analyzing and Interpreting Literature exams. No more than fifteen (15) credit hours may be earned through CLEP/DSST exams. For more information:
    • DSST (formerly DANTES Subject Standardized Tests)  are credit-by-examination tests originated by the United States Department of Defense’s Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) program. These exams are open to all learners and can be taken to earn college credit for knowledge acquired outside of a traditional classroom. Students should register online through the DSST exam website, choose a testing site, and specify the institution to receive the exam score(s).  For more information:
  • International Baccalaureate (IB-Higher Level): University of Maine recognizes IB achievement by awarding credit to students who score 5 or above on exams taken at the Higher Level (exams taken at the Standard Level are not eligible for transfer credit). A matrix of IB exam course equivalencies is maintained on the transfer equivalency table. For more information:
  • Seal of Biliteracy: The Seal of Biliteracy is an award that recognizes student achievement in language learning for students who are proficient in English and an additional language. The University of Maine awards credit for successful certification of additional language(s) when a student achieves the Seal of Biliteracy. There are a number of foreign language testing services which may be used to demonstrate proficiency, however, scores must align with the Intermediate-Mid Proficiency level of the ACTFL Proficiency Scale in order to receive Seal of Biliteracy certification. Students who are evaluated at the Advanced-Low or higher proficiency level on the ACTFL OPI or OPIc proficiency tests will receive an additional three credit hours of elective credit at the 300 level. For more information and to view current equivalencies: Seal of Biliteracy Credit Table

Credential Review (15 credits limitation): Students may be able to earn credit for some licenses, certificates and other credentials from organizations outside the University, if these credentials represent learning that is comparable to that encountered in the college classroom.  Students who have earned credentials or certifications from work or life experience should contact their Dean’s Office to request a CPL review. The submission of credential documentation does not guarantee the awarding of credit.  Any type of Credential or External Training Review assessment will require valid proof of learning such as the license or certificate awarded, course materials, or other information.

Military Credit: Students should submit a copy of their Joint Services transcript to be evaluated. Credit for military work will be evaluated based on recommendations of the American Council on Education (ACE) and will correspond to subject areas offered at the University of Maine.

  • Credit for Military Coursework (15 credits limitation): Only courses recommended at the upper or lower baccalaureate level will be evaluated for transfer credit.  A maximum of 15 credits will be allowed as military transfer credit (not including prior experiential learning and credit for standardized tests) and the courses will count as elective credit only, unless an exception is made. Students seeking an exception should contact their Dean’s Office to make a request. The Dean’s Office will work with the appropriate department(s) to determine if an exception should be granted; supporting documentation may be required for review.
  • Credit for Military Experience: Prior Learning related to training and other experiences in the military will be considered for transfer in the same way as other prior experiential learning. This type of experiential learning may be evaluated via CLEP/DSST exams or an Academic Portfolio Assessment.  Students who have relevant experiences which relate to their program of study should contact their Dean’s Office for more information.

Challenge Exam/Credit by Competency: Select departments, including the Deptartment of Modern Languages and Classics and the English Department, evaluate prior learning through competency assessment exams. Interested students should contact the appropriate department for more information about available exams and any applicable fees.

Academic Portfolio Assessment (15 credits limitation): Academic portfolios are demonstrations of college-level learning which students have developed through work, volunteer, or life experience.  Depending on the degree plan, portfolios may be used to fulfill major, gen ed, or general elective credit requirements. A prior learning portfolio typically includes a written narrative presentation and supporting documentation, assembled and submitted for assessment of college-level learning equivalent to a specific course or content area elective learning outcomes. Credit will be awarded for learning which demonstrates both theory and practical application.  Departments conduct portfolio reviews at their discretion and may assess a $50 review fee which would be charged to the student’s account through the Bursar’s Office. Submitting a CPL portfolio does not guarantee that credit will be awarded. Students seeking a review should contact their Dean’s Office.