2023-2024 Catalog 
    Jun 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog

Alternative Ways to Earn Credits

There are a variety of ways for UMFK students to earn credit. 

Challenge Exams/Credit by Exam

Challenge Exams recognize and award credit for college-level prior learning students have acquired through various life, work, and educational experiences outside the college classroom.  Challenge Exams are exams prepared by faculty to test students’ knowledge of an entire course. 

However, some courses can be challenged through the use of nationally normed, standardized examinations, such as CLEP and DSST, which are administered through Student Support Services.  UMFK offers 31 CLEP and 14 DSST Credit-By-Examinations through the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and administered through UMFK Student Support Services, providing an opportunity for students to earn credit for education required in non-traditional environments. The charge for DSST is $80 per test. The charge for CLEP is $77 per test. A nonrefundable deposit of $10 is required with registration for each test. The remaining $77/$80 is due when the test is administered. Additional information may be obtained through Student Support Services. Testing is conducted on an ongoing basis; students must register 48 hours in advance.

Students may complete language exams to satisfy degree requirements, demonstrate proficiency, and receive credit beyond the junior-year cutoff, if they have not completed courses in the language at UMFK. (See the Foreign Language Achievement Testing Services section below.)

For the Nursing, Allied Health & Behavioral Science Division Challenge Exams in Nutrition, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, contact Denise Potvin at 207-834-8625 or denise.potvin@maine.edu to make arrangements for a test site near the student’s home.

Challenge Exams: 

  • May only be completed by degree-seeking students.

  • Are limited to one attempt per course.

  • Laboratory Challenge Exams may require demonstrated laboratory proficiency. 

  • May not be attempted if the student has previously earned credit in the course at the institution, or if the student has previously failed the course (being challenged). 

  • Should be scheduled in time to impact a student’s upcoming course schedule.

  • Seniors are not eligible to complete Challenge Exams during their final semester.

  • Credit does not count toward full or part time enrollment status. 

  • A maximum of 60 credits may be earned through a combination of CLEP, DSST and Challenge Exams.

Regular letter grades are not assigned for Challenge Exams. If the Challenge Exam is passed with a percentage equal to C- or higher (for Nursing majors: a C for support courses and C+ for Nursing courses), a grade of P is assigned, no grade points are assigned. If the student fails the Challenge Exam, there is no record on the transcript, but the fees are still charged.

To obtain Challenge Exam credit (students):

  • Students must complete the Challenge Exam form indicating the course they wish to Challenge, course title, and course credits.

  • Students submit the Challenge Exam form to their advisor for a signature.

  • Students submit the Challenge Exam form to the Business Office, pay the fee and Business Office staff sign the form.

  • Students submit the Challenge Exam form to the faculty conducting the Challenge Exam.

To create the Challenge Exam and assign Challenge Exam credit (faculty):

  • Challenge Exams are designed by subject matter experts, are based on the current set of course learning outcomes, are equivalent to comprehensive final examinations, and are unbiased toward students who have not directly participated in the course.

  • On the Challenge Exam form, faculty indicate Pass or Fail, and the percentage earned on the Challenge Exam. 

  • Faculty sign the form and email it to the Registrar’s Office.

To transcript a Challenge Exam: (Registrar Staff)

  • Registrar staff receive the Challenge Exam form with all the information listed above (including payment).

  • Registrar staff enter the Challenge Exam information onto the student’s transcript as shown below.

  • Registrar staff email the faculty, advisor, and student when the credit shows on the transcript.

Challenge Exam credits are listed on the transcript at the very top under a header of Test Credits.

- - - - - Test Credits - - - - - 

UMFK Challenge Exam (score XX)

Subj  Course#  Course Title   credits   P 

Foreign Language Achievement Testing Services (FLATS) 

Students may complete language exams through Foreign Language Achievement Testing Services (FLATS) through Brigham Young University, to satisfy degree requirements, demonstrate proficiency, and receive credit beyond the junior-year, if they have not completed the General Education Language requirement at UMFK. FLATS testing allows students to complete a FLATS exam at their college or university and receive up to 12 credits. There is a $10 processing fee charged for a refund. 

Cooperative Education

Cooperative Education integrates classroom theory with practical experience, where students have specified periods of attendance at UMFK and specific periods of employment in industry, business, government, or service agencies.

Academic credit for Cooperative Education is awarded for job-related learning, which can be documented and measured. The number of credits awarded depends on three criteria listed below. Criteria is established by the student and faculty to determine criteria that will be met by concrete evidence of accomplishment.

  1. Nature of the work, length of the work experience, and academic value of that work experience. Before the beginning of a semester, students must submit a study plan to the faculty major advisor and Assistant Provost (or designee). 

  2. Concise statements on the course area, topic, or problem on which the student will focus.

  3. Reasons for doing this particular study; how it will increase the professional expertise in relation to career objectives. 

A maximum of 16 Cooperative Education credits may be applied toward a baccalaureate degree, a maximum of 8 Cooperative Education credits may be applied toward an associate degree and a maximum of 4 Cooperative Education credits may be applied toward a minor. 

Cooperative Education credits must be approved by the Dean and Provost (or designee) to apply work experience credits toward major or minor requirements.

The Cooperative Education requirements:

  1. A cumulative GPA of 2.5 overall or 3.0 in the major.

  2. Recommended by faculty advisor.

  3. Earned a minimum of 45 credits, or an associate degree.

  4. Students must be interviewed and accepted by a potential employer.

Directed Study

Under the direction of a faculty sponsor, a Directed Study course provides students the opportunity to complete an unavailable course that is required for timely graduation. Directed Study curriculum is the same as the traditional course. Directed Study differs from Independent Study; the faculty sponsor provides direction for the student’s work, and the course is one that is traditionally taught at UMFK. Students should enroll in required courses when traditionally offered; Directed Study is never a substitute for an offered course and is an exception due to extenuating circumstances.  


  1. The student and faculty complete the Directed Study proposal form. Learning outcomes, work to be completed, and methods of evaluation must be included. 
  2. The proposal is then submitted to the Dean for approval then to the Provost or designee for approval. Approval is granted if the proposal meets the requirements (see below).
  3. The student begins and completes the project during the indicated academic term listed on the form. The faculty sponsor must assign a grade at the end of the term of the directed study.

Directed Study is available to students who meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. Be either juniors or seniors in baccalaureate programs or sophomores in associate programs.

  2. Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. 

  3. No other available course within the time-to-graduation timeframe satisfies the requirement and/or may be used as a substitution.

  • Students generally will not receive approval for a Directed Study if the requested course is being traditionally taught during the requested term of the Directed Study or within the timeframe to graduation, except in extraordinary circumstances.

Additional information concerning Directed Study is available from the Registrar or the Academic Affairs office.

Independent Study

In an Independent Study, with the supervision and guidance of a faculty sponsor, a student develops a course of special interest, research project, field study, practicum, or special readings proposal centering on an area of study not included in UMFK regular course offerings. Independent Study is never a substitute for an offered course, or for a course not successfully completed.

Credit for the proposal is recommended by the faculty sponsor at the time the study is presented by the student. The interested student and sponsoring faculty member complete an Independent Study Form. Measurable objectives, work to be completed, and methods of evaluation must be included. The proposal is submitted to the Division Dean and the Provost or designee for approval.

Credit will vary between one and four credits. Students may enroll for one Independent Study course at a time with a maximum of 20 hours applicable towards the baccalaureate degree.

Independent Study presupposes a developed competency and maturity; consequently, participation in the program is restricted to students who have accrued a cumulative GPA 2.5, or a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the student’s major. Students who do not meet the criteria, but develop a proposal that merits Independent Study status, should consult with a prospective faculty sponsor to assess the possibilities for successful completion of the project. 

Early College 

UMFK’s Early College and Concurrent Enrollment program has expanded to more than 100 high schools in Maine. Early College is a program where high-school students take live or online courses for college credit. There are several ways to gain Early College credit, and this also varies from high school to high school. UMFK works with school partners ensuring appropriate student and academic support structures, both at the high-school and on campus, are in place. The Maine Department of Education, through the Maine Aspirations program, pays Early College tuition for up to 12 credits per year (four courses, on average). There are no fees for Early College classes (except for an occasional course fee). Students and their parents/guardians are responsible for course materials and books. After using up their 12 credits, students must pay for courses out of pocket at a largely discounted rate. Due to FERPA, personal information may not be given out to parents, unless a form has been signed.

By providing a variety of options to students and their schools, Early College streamlines operations, ensuring academic quality and integrity, and providing appropriate student support for success. Incorporating live courses in high schools, video technology, and on-line/asynchronous classes.

Early College program goals:

  • Provide academic rigor for high school students in Maine

  • Provide an affordable pathway to college

  • Provide opportunities for high school students to experience college learning

  • Provide opportunities for high school students to earn college credits

  • Increase post-secondary aspirations for Maine students

  • Increase high school and university collaborations

Concurrent Enrollment

Concurrent courses are aligned with courses taught at the high school. Course curriculum must be the same and be aligned with all of UMFK’s learning outcomes, rigor, and assessment. Teachers are also required to regularly provide evidence of rigor, assessment, and sample student work.

Tuition is free for students. The Maine Department of Education, through the Maine Aspirations program, pays the early college tuition for up to 12 credits per year. There are no fees for concurrent enrollment classes (except for the occasional course fee). Students and their parents/guardians are responsible for course materials and books.

Students who complete a Concurrent Enrollment course have grades entered on an official UMFK transcript where they may be transferred to another college or applied to UMFK graduation requirements.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Students may have gained knowledge and skills from previous employment, experiences, training, or through degrees/diplomas, licenses, or certification from other agencies. Where possible, UMFK honors a student’s past experiences by granting credit for these Prior Learning experiences. If credit is denied the student may request to appeal the decision and complete the appeal process (see below). Credits awarded through PLA process are nonresident credits and do not count towards the 30-credit residency requirement. 

The Academic Affairs office submits approved PLA requests to the Registrar’s office to post credits on the transcript.

PLA Eligibility

  1.  Applicants must be currently matriculated and enrolled at UMFK.
  2. Applicants must have a current cumulative grade point average of 2.0.
  3. Applicants who have earned a diploma, certificate, or special license must present official transcripts or credentials from each institution at which study was completed for evaluation. The student should write a description of the diploma, certificate or license.
  4. Students petitioning for evaluation of academically quantifiable work experience must present official letters and other pertinent documentation from appropriate supervisory sources, confirming the work experience and attesting to its quality. Work experience may include volunteer or other unpaid work. 
  5. Students must identify the disciplines for which they are seeking credit and the number of credit hours they believe the experience is equivalent to. Where possible, the University recommends the student attempt to equate the experience with an existing course(s). 

Review and Decision Process

  1. When the PLA process is completed, it is presented to the reviewing faculty member and/or Division Dean for review. Students are charged a $75.00 review fee for all Prior Learning Assessment reviews.

  2. The portfolio is evaluated on a pass/fail basis; learning demonstrated must be considered 70% or higher.

  3. The reviewing faculty and/or Division Dean recommends one of the following options:

    • Award Full Credit: Evaluators may award full amount of credits petitioned by the student, with rationale for awarding credit.

    • Deny Credit: Evaluators may deny credit completely, with rationale for awarding credit. The student may request to appeal the decision.

    • Request an addendum or interview: Evaluators may request additional information, or an interview, before making a final credit determination. When the addendum material is submitted with the original portfolio, or an interview is completed, the evaluator has the option of awarding or denying credit. If credit is denied the student may request to appeal the decision.

  4. Recommendations are submitted to Academic Affairs office with the final determination of credits to be awarded by the Academic Affairs office.

  5. Once the student’s PLA request is approved for credit, it will be assessed a $50.00 per credit charge.

  6. The Academic Affairs office submits approved PLA requests to the Registrar’s office for entry onto the student’s official transcript.

Appeal Process

If the PLA request is denied, the student may submit a written Academic Appeal form within 10 business days of the denial, to the reviewing faculty and/or Division Dean, seeking an explanation of the denial and clarification of the information missing from the request. When the reviewing faculty and/or Division Dean receives the request, they must provide the student with the requested information within 10 business days and provide the student with a PLA portfolio resubmission due date. The student must complete the requests of the reviewing faculty member and/or Division Dean and resubmit the required information by this date to have the portfolio re-reviewed (no additional review fee charged).

Special Topics Courses

Periodically, newly developed courses, or those not offered regularly, are presented under the Special Topics designation. These are listed in the semester schedule of classes with course numbers of 240 for lower-level credit and 340 for upper level credit. The course subject is the discipline offering the course. The specific topic and course description can be found in the current schedule of classes.

Study Away

Study Away is an opportunity for students to take courses at other colleges, both in and outside of the University of Maine System. Students wanting to receive credits at UMFK for academic work to be done at another institution must complete the Study Away Form. A separate form must be completed for each away course and this form should be submitted at least a month before the away course begins. A student should only register for the away course once approval has been granted. Please note the instructions on the form and how away courses can impact Financial Aid.

Graduate Credit Applied towards Bachelor Degrees

UMFK allows up to 6 graduate credits from another institution to transfer to baccalaureate programs. The graduate institution must meet the accreditation requirements as stated in the transfer policy. These credits must have a minimum grade of B or equivalent. Graduate credits applied toward a bachelor degree, will not count toward the master’s degree.