Learn how to earn college credit by passing a final exam equivalent at UMUC.
With a course challenge, you can earn credit by taking the equivalent of the final exam for a University of Maryland University College course.
If you are considering earning credit through a course challenge, here is what you need to do:
- Read this page thoroughly to learn course challenge policies and regulations.
- Read the Course Challenge Criteria to find out if you're eligible.
- If you determine that a course challenge is suitable for you, you can then apply for Course Challenge.
Academic credit may be earned for any UMUC undergraduate course for which a suitable examination can be prepared and administered. See the list of courses not eligible for a course challenge. Course challenge examinations are comprehensive tests of the material that is normally presented through a semester-long course. The examinations provide the opportunity to establish academic credit for competencies gained outside the classroom for which academic credit has not already been earned.
While the majority of course challenges consist of a final exam, the challenge can include other requirements based on the course chosen. These can include research papers, computer programs, language tapes, or other documents that exhibit the competency for which you are seeking credit. Requirements are set by the applicable academic department.
Course challenge examinations are created individually, so timelines can vary greatly. You should be aware that the course challenge process can take more than four months. For that reason, it is strongly suggested that students not attempt a course challenge during their final semester prior to graduation.
Any degree-seeking UMUC student who has received an official evaluation may apply for a course challenge. Applications are available online or from the Prior Learning office.
The fee for a course challenge examination is the current tuition for the appropriate course. This fee is paid when the syllabus for the examination is sent, and is non-refundable (except in certain cases described under Policies below), regardless of whether or not you complete the examination. There is no separate registration fee for taking a course challenge examination.
Upon receipt of your completed application and approval by the degree audit team, an instructor will be sought to prepare the examination. If approved, a study syllabus will be provided. You have up to 60 days to study the syllabus and prepare for the examination to avoid cancellation.
The examination will be administered at an agreed upon time in the Prior Learning office, an approved proctored site, or the UMUC Testing Center (proctoring fee required).
To help you understand when you can expect to receive your materials, syllabus, and final grade, please refer to this timeline.
- You submit the application
- Prior Learning reviews your application: Two to three weeks.
- Prior Learning sends you a syllabus: Two to eight weeks. For courses that are not regularly taught at UMUC, it may take longer.
- Your application fee is charged
- You prepare for the exam: You will have 60 days to prepare for the exam.
- You contact Prior Learning to schedule the date and time of your exam
- You take the exam
- Faculty grades exam
- UMUC sends you your grade: You will be sent the unofficial results of your exam with a copy of your application within two to three weeks. The Registrar will send you your official grade. Your grade will be reflected on the following semester's grade report.
Application for credit by examination is equivalent to registration for a course. However, the conditions described below apply.
- You may cancel the application at any time before completion of the examination with no entry to your permanent record. However, your application fee is non-refundable. A student wishing to take an examination previously canceled at the student's request must reapply and pay all applicable fees.
- You may elect to take an examination for credit on a pass/fail basis, but only in accordance with UMUC regulations governing the use of the pass/fail option. The election of regular grading or pass/fail must be made at the time of application; if you make no election, regular grading will apply.
- UMUC academic standards will govern the examination. The grades awarded by the examiner will be entered on your permanent record. Under no circumstances can you elect to not have the grade posted once you have earned a grade on a challenge exam.
- Letter grades earned on examinations to establish credit are entered on your official academic record and are used in computing your cumulative grade point average.
- You may not attempt credit by examination in any writing course or in any course for which you have previously earned a letter grade (including a W) at UMUC.
- No course challenge may be attempted more than twice. An "attempt" is considered to begin at the time you see the contents of the examination.
- You may only challenge current, active UMUC courses.
- You may apply for course challenge for only one course of a course sequence (e.g., Accounting I or II) at a time.
- Normally, you may not challenge a lower-level course (numbers 100-299) after completing higher-level courses (numbers 300-499) in the same discipline. You may never seek a course challenge for a course that is prerequisite to a course for which you have already received credit.
- In the case of foreign language examinations, UMUC reserves the right to determine your native language and the level of examination to be taken. The following specific regulations apply:
- Your "native language" is the one you first learned to read and write in as a child through regular schooling. Therefore, it is not necessarily the native language of your parents or the primary language associated with your country of birth.
- You may not seek credit by examination in lower-level courses of your native language.
- You may not seek credit by examination in upper-level conversation courses of your native language.
- You may seek credit by examination in upper-level courses of your native language when those courses emphasize written translation to and from English, linguistics, or literature.
Not Eligible for Course Challenge
The following courses may not be challenged under the terms of the course challenge examination program:
- All capstone courses
- Learning Analysis and Planning (3 Credits, EXCL 301)
- All 486A/486B courses
Please check with the program chair if you wish to challenge a lab course.
Prior Learning Portfolio
Document life experiences that may qualify as college credits through UMUC's Portfolio program.