Alternative Methods for Earning Course Credit

Wilmington University grants academic credit for course completion in a number of ways beyond the traditional and virtual classroom setting. Credit may be granted through transfer credit, for work completed at another academic institution, or related work completed in the manners listed below. A brief description follows. Additional information may be found on the University website located at or from an Academic Advisor or Site Director. Please see your program chair for additional information.

Challenge by Examination

Challenge by examination measures graduate-level knowledge through an examination process. Challenge by examination is limited to graduate prerequisites. Students interested in challenge by examination must register in advance for the specific course and, upon payment of the specified fee, will receive notification of prearranged date, time, and place of examination. Results of the examination will be available to the student no later than one week prior to registration for the next block.

Credit by Portfolio Assessment

Credit may be granted for prior learning competency(s) through the development of a portfolio which presents evidence of college level learning. A student-prepared portfolio will be assessed by faculty with the appropriate content expertise. The portfolio must include a learning narrative and evidence relevant to the area in which credit is sought. The student will demonstrate clear achievement and a thorough understanding of the learning objectives. This may be accomplished by documenting knowledge obtained through work experience (military or civilian), in-service training programs, volunteer activities, workshops, and personal study. Credit by portfolio is assessed based on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory evaluation and will be assigned a grade of “S or U.” Exceptions to the grading policy may occur with approval of the Academic Dean of the College. Credit earned by portfolio assessment is recognized as residency credit.

Directed Study

Directed study is available only under extenuating circumstances for students who are approved by their Academic Dean or Program Chair one month prior to the semester registration period in which the directed study is to be conducted. A maximum of 6 credits may be earned through the directed study format and may be used towards residency credits.

Enrollment as an Auditor

Students who wish to audit a specific course for no credit may do so by seeking permission of an Academic Advisor or Site Director. Students may then follow established registration procedures, clearly stating which courses they wish to audit. Course auditors pay the same tuition as non-auditors and may participate fully in classroom activities. They are not required to take examinations or complete class assignments. Course auditors receive a grade of “AU” (audit) that does not affect grade point average (GPA).

Extra-Institutional Course Assessment (ECA)

The University recognizes that college-level learning takes place both in and out of the classroom. A process of reviewing corporate training programs and other formal training/courses offered by non-accredited institutions/entities has been implemented to determine if college-level learning is present and to determine what credit, if any, should be awarded for the prior learning.

Graduate level ECA credit often requires independent study, original research, critical analysis, or the professional application of the specialized knowledge within the discipline.

Independent Study

Students desiring to study areas of knowledge outside of disciplines available through regular course work must secure written permission from the appropriate Academic Dean or Program Chair one month (minimum) prior to the semester’s registration period in which the independent study is to be conducted. Tuition and fees for independent study are the same as those for standard courses. Independent study is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. A maximum of six (6) credits may be earned through the independent study format and may be used towards residency credits.


Internships provide first-hand experiences upon which future career choices can be based as students gain a better understanding of the relationship between theoretical concepts and their practical application.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Prior learning, sometimes called “experiential learning” is knowledge obtained outside the typical university setting. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) defines prior learning as the assessment and award of credit for learning and knowledge students acquire while living their lives: working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and studying open source courseware. Credit may be granted for verifiable learning gained through experience, but not for the experience itself.

A maximum of 6 credits may be earned through the Prior Learning Assessment format and may be used towards residency credits. PLA credits may have implications on student financial aid, as such students are encouraged to coordinate with their student financial aid advisor to avoid any impacts on financial awards or eligibility.

NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, PLA credit is applied to student transcripts as transfer credit.

Additional information on PLA can be found on the University web site: or by contacting your Academic Advisor.