Office for Prior Learning Assessment

Welcome to PLA

We respect the learning you bring to USM. With Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), we can potentially reward you for it with college credit - saving you time and money as you work toward your degree.

PLA allows us to build a bridge between your practical/life knowledge and the academic learning we provide on campus and online. This can include knowledge gained from the workforce, a profession, and the military. Our pathways to academic credit might include: testing options, credential review, and academic portfolio development. These assessments are available to the general public as well as USM students.

Military Credits

Served in the military? Our Veterans Services coordinator can review your military transcript to see if college credit is available based on your knowledge and experience. If you're looking for an evaluation of your military transcript for academic credit, please contact Lorraine Spaulding, Coordinator of Veterans Services: lorraine.spaulding@maine.edu, 207-780-5232, located at 235 Luther Bonney Hall. She can help you get started and answer any questions you may have. Be sure to also check out the Veterans Services website.

Standardized Testing 

We may offer credit that can be posted to your transcript free of charge for some high school testing.

Already knowledgeable in a subject area? We offer three kinds of computerized tests where you can demonstrate your basic knowledge. Bypass a foundational course in favor of one that puts you closer to your degree.

We may offer credit that can be posted to your transcript free of charge for standardized college level equivalent testing.

  • CLEP - USM faculty reviewed exams passed with a score of 50 or higher (offered on-site at USM).
  • DSST - USM faculty reviewed exams passed with a score of 400 or higher (offered on-site at USM).
  • UExcel - USM faculty reviewed exams with a grade of B or higher.

For details about scheduling a standardized test: PLA Standardized Test

Course Challenge Exams 

Hoping to place out of a course in an area not covered by available CLEP, DSST, or UExcel exams? In certain cases, a faculty member might develop an individual test to assess your knowledge of course material. You can earn credit for the course if you pass the exam.

Language Examinations 

NYU and BYU (FLATS) language exams let you earn up to 6 general elective language credits. You can take one of the language exams in roughly 2.5 hours at the Portland Campus Testing Center.  

NOTE: Spanish and Hebrew NYU language exams are live proctored online and not administered at the USM testing center.

Credential Review

You may be able to earn credit for some licenses, certificates and other credentials from organizations outside the University. We can review your license or certificate to determine whether credit is applicable.

Academic Portfolio Assesment 

If there's no available exam to help you demonstrate what you've learned, we can work with faculty members to help you create an academic portfolio to reflect your knowledge. Your portfolio will include a letter of intent, resume, a narrative, and any supporting materials you may have (certificates, awards, letters of recommendation, etc.) to document your mastery of course learning objectives. Portfolio credit options include general electives, subject­ specific electives and individual course equivalencies.