Office for Prior Learning Assessment

PLA Academic Portfolio Assessment

Academic Portfolio Assessment

pla-drukerStudents write PLA academic portfolios at USM with the mentorship and support of the USM faculty and the PLA staff, along with written PLA Undergraduate Student Guidelines for the Academic Portfolio.  Academic portfolios are formal, written communications, which for full credit, include supporting documentation of college-level knowledge, competency, and ability. The student's documentation proves their understanding of and competence in the subject matter, and may require some form of demonstration or performance in addition to the written portion.  At its completion, the student submits the academic portfolio to the Office for Prior Learning Assessment, formally requesting undergraduate (and in some cases, graduate) credit for their extra-collegiate learning.

Those interested in this credit option, before beginning the undergraduate portfolio process, must register with the Office for Prior Learning Assessment:

You will be asked to choose a generalized timeline for your portfolio process (included in the Guidelines). When your academic portfolio is completed, and you wish to have your earned credits posted to your USM academic transcript, submit the Portfolio Assessment Credit Payment Form and pay for your credits.

Students may request general elective credit, elective credit within a department, or course equivalency. Elective credits may be earned regardless of one's major, but their applicability for meeting graduation requirements varies by school or college.

PLA does offer the opportunity for graduate students in certain areas to complete an academic portfolio. If you are a graduate student, please read the graduate portfolio guidelines. 

Specialty Academic Portfolios

The Office for Prior Learning Assessment has developed specialized academic portfolios that offer a more streamlined process in particular subjects, while still allowing you to work closely with PLA as well as selected faculty in the specialized area.

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  • For example, if you seek to demonstrate your facility and fluency in French, you can complete an academic portfolio in French (actually writing the portfolio in French). You would contact the PLA director first, then after meeting approval with Joyce Lapping, you would schedule an appointment with our contact in the department of Modern Classical Languages and Literature (MCLL) to complete your portfolio. 
  • Are you a student in education? Use this guideline to complete your portfolio in Education.
  • Are you a USM employee? Are you an employee anywhere within the University of Maine System? Have you successfully graduated from the Supervisor Development Institute (SDI) and been a supervisor for at least two years? With the SDI academic portfolio, you can earn up to 3 credits, do not need to be a matriculated student to earn this credit, and can have those credits paid with a tuition waiver (at USM only)!  Register with this form.
  • If you have served as a Resident Assistant or Certified Academic Tutor at USM for at least two years, you can earn up to 3 credits with this specific academic portfolio.
  • If you have completed projects for the 12-week or 9-month session of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship at Rockport, Maine, you are eligible to earn up to 15 Art credits at USM through the CFCR academic portfolio. Even shorter sessions can earn you up to 3 credits with an Art faculty mentorship at USM and the portfolio. Payment is specialized as well, so use this form.
  • Are you working on an academic portfolio for the Department of Technology? This department uses portfolio assessment in several options for its Technology Management and Applied Technical Leadership degrees. Please read the Department of Technology Portfolio Assessment Policies here.