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Institutional Challenge by Portfolio

An Institutional Challenge by Portfolio is just one way students may be able to earn credit based on previous learning not already validated by a grade for a college level course.  Explore this option further to determine if completing a portfolio or portfolios is an excellent option for you.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a detailed, written or electronic document prepared by a student to demonstrate college level knowledge of concepts and skills learned through life experiences – such as on the job or through volunteer activities – with a particular course. Check out the Guidelines below.

How can a portfolio help me earn college credit?

Through submission of a portfolio a student can demonstrate competencies related to existing SDSU course offerings and earn college credit for classes.

What experience qualifies for credit through the portfolio program?

Consider everything, as a portfolio may contain both prior non-transferable coursework and recent work experiences relevant to the course being challenged. However, it is also important to note, not every experience results in college level learning and college credit can only be awarded for college level learning.

Some examples of learning may be through:

  • Non-transferable courses at Technical Institutes if grades of C or better were earned
  • Work- related training
  • Professional licenses and certifications
  • Professional memberships and awards
  • Military service
  • Non-credit or continuing education programs
  • Community service or volunteer work

How do I know if this is an option for me?

Challenge by Portfolio is most beneficial for non-traditional students. Visit with your Academic Advisor or the Director of the Testing Center if you are not sure.

How will a portfolio save me time?

Students may challenge up to 30 credits by Prior Learning Assessment (portfolio or exam) to apply to the undergraduate bachelor's degree or 15 credits toward an associate's degree. This can save a student significant time in reaching their goal of degree completion. A full-time student takes at least 12 credits per semester; so, to earn 30 credits through classroom instruction takes approximately three full-time semesters. Time spent preparing a portfolio will vary; however, a student may spend 30 hours on average to prepare one portfolio in which they may earn up to six credits.

How will a portfolio save me money?

As with saving time, students may save money through submitting portfolios for prior learning. A portfolio submission is $90.75 per course. This is significantly less than the cost of tuition.

Which classes can I submit a portfolio for?

A student may request consideration for portfolio credit for any existing SDSU course; however, eligibility for portfolio credit is not guaranteed. A portfolio is not optimal for all courses, for example those in which a CLEP test is possible. The  Director of the Testing Center will assist you in identifying the best alternative for you to validate your prior college level learning.

Is there help available in developing a portfolio?

Assistance may be provided through the Testing Center and the department in which the course is offered.

Ready to get started? Follow these steps.

Step 1: Reflect on learning experiences and identify your college-level knowledge and skills and make a list.

Step 2: Explore the SDSU Catalog to review courses and course descriptions. Identify courses in which these learning experiences may match. Visit with your Academic Advisor and ensure the course(s) identified fulfill specific degree requirements.

Step 3: Schedule a meeting (face-to-face, phone, or Zoom) with the Director of the Testing Center to go over the challenge process. 

  • The Director of the Testing Center will make initial contact with the appropriate department to confirm this is a viable option.
  • Upon department approval, the Director will email you the link to the DocuSign Challenge by Portfolio Registration Form and copies of the Rubric the faculty will be using to evaluate your portfolio and a Template that can guide you in your compilation of the portfolio. 

Step 4: Meet with the appropriate faculty member or Department Head to determine the portfolio requirements, the names and email addresses of the faculty members who will be reviewing the portfolio (2 required) and obtain a copy of the course syllabus with current Student Learning Objectives.

Step 5: Complete the Challenge by Portfolio Registration Form. (You will need names and email addresses of the Faculty Reviewers, Dean, Department Head and Academic Advisor prior to completing this form.)

Step 6: Once the DocuSign Challenge by Portfolio Registration Form is signed by the Department Head, Academic Advisor, and Dean, the student will receive a copy via email.  Keep this form as it is a required part of your portfolio.  Pay the $90.75 fee to the Testing Center on the RegisterBlast website.  Once the Challenge fee is paid, the Faculty reviewers will receive a PowerForm to assess the portfolio.

Step 7: Develop the portfolio based upon the Template and Rubric you have received.

Step 8: Submit the portfolio at least 30 days (45 days if during the summer) in advance of the credit award for evaluation and processing to the two faculty members identified for as reviewers. It is the faculty reviewer's responsibility to bring the portfolio to the Testing Center or upload it into Box in addition to completing the Portfolio Review Form and signing off on the initial Challenge by Portfolio Registration Form indicating if the student passed. 

Step 9: The Department will notify the student of the results of the portfolio. If credit is awarded, it will be added to the student's transcript in 2 to 3 weeks by the Registrar's Office. If the portfolio is judged to be insufficient to meet criteria, the student will be informed in writing and will have an opportunity to resubmit a revised portfolio within the next 60 days.

For questions contact:

Kim Goodfellow, Director
Testing Center
605-688-6460
Email