Whether it be a second (or first) language, skills you acquired on the job or through military service, or ways you’ve grown from engaging with your community, demonstrating this prior learning could save you time and money as you earn your degree.

Here are a few ways qualified University of Southern Maine students can earn credit through our office:

  • The University’s Portland campus is a public testing location for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), and BYU FLATS Language Exams. If you’d like to schedule one of these exams on the Portland campus click here to complete the online registration form.
  • Challenge examinations are developed at the discretion of faculty who teach the appropriate course and are available only to degree-seeking University of Southern Maine students.  Challenge exams might take the form of an interview, an oral presentation, a performance or demonstration, a written test, or a combination of formats. If a challenge exam is passed, the student earns credit for the course. If you are a current University student wanting to take a challenge exam, please visit the MyUSM CPL page for more information.

The CPL office posts credit for degree-seeking University of Southern Maine students who have successfully passed Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or Cambridge AICE exams or have earned Seals of Biliteracy from their state boards of education.

If you’d like to send exam scores for credit, please click on the “Send exam scores to USM” link in the left-hand menu for more information.

University of Southern Maine students may be able to earn credit for certain state, national and industry certifications, if those credentials represent significant seat time and learning comparable to that encountered in the college classroom.  Credentials must be current (not expired) and not provisional to be reviewed by the CPL office.

A list of the CPL office’s most frequently reviewed credentials can be found at this link.

Academic portfolios are documents degree-seeking University of Southern Maine students assemble to show how learning from their professional experiences, community work, or their own personal interests meets one or more of their degree requirements. In addition to saving time and money, portfolio students develop their ability to think critically and connect academic theories to their learning. 

Portfolios usually involve a cover letter, resume, extended essay and/or presentation, and documentation of student learning experiences. Depending on the degree, portfolios may be used to fulfill major, undergraduate core, or general elective credit requirements. If you are a current University student wanting to develop an academic portfolio, please visit the MyUSM CPL page for more information.

“During my last year at the University of Southern Maine, I used the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) program to earn eleven credits for my Internship portfolio and a Somali language exam. I’m glad I had the chance to work with the CPL team. I was encouraged and helped throughout the whole process. They were patient and helped me learn new ways to organize and improve my writing skills. I was able to pass my remaining classes for the spring semester because the process was so straightforward. I strongly believe that the credits I earned from the CPL program pushed me to finish my degree.”
— Zeynab Muhidin ’21, Social and Behavioral Sciences major