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Prior Learning Course Challenge

Learn how to earn college credit by passing a final exam equivalent at UMGC.

With a course challenge, you can earn credit by taking the equivalent of the final assessment for a University of Maryland Global Campus course.

If you are considering earning credit through a course challenge, you should

Academic credit may be earned for any current, active UMGC undergraduate course for which a suitable assessment can be prepared and administered. The following courses may not be challenged under the terms of the course challenge program:

Please check with the Office of Prior Learning if you wish to challenge a lab course, a foreign language course, or a writing course. The Office of Prior Learning will work with the departments to determine if such challenges are possible.

Course challenge is a comprehensive assessment of the material that is normally presented through a full term-length course. The assessment provides the opportunity to establish academic credit for competencies gained outside the classroom for which academic credit has not already been earned.

While some course challenges may 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 assessments 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 term prior to graduation.


Any degree-seeking UMGC student who has received an official evaluation may apply for a course challenge. Applications are available online or from the Prior Learning office.

Students enrolled at other University System of Maryland institutions are not eligible to take UMGC course challenge assessments.


The fee for a course challenge assessment is the current tuition for the appropriate course. This fee is paid when the syllabus for the assessment is sent and is non-refundable regardless of whether you complete the assessment, except in certain cases described under Policies below. There is no separate registration fee for taking a course challenge assessment.


Upon receipt of your completed application and approval by the Academic Pathways team, an instructor will be sought to prepare the assessment. If approved, a study syllabus will be provided. The faculty and department will determine the due date of your assessment, no more than 60 days after the syllabus is sent to you.

The assessment will be administered at an agreed upon time, either online or at an approved proctored site.

To help you understand when you can expect to receive your materials, syllabus, and final grade, please refer to this timeline.

  • Submit the application.
  • Academic Pathways reviews your application and notifies the academic department.
  • The academic department may consult with you and will contact you with their decision. If approved, they will send you the link to the course syllabus on the interactive Schedule of Classes.
  • The entire process from application to approval can take 3-5 business days.
  • The department will notify you when you can pay your tuition fees for the course you intend to challenge. Once you notify the department that your fee has been paid, you will be put in touch with a faculty facilitator
  • Students will prepare for the assessment. You may have up to 60 days to prepare, but often you will have fewer than 60 days. Each assessment is different and the time you are given to prepare depends upon the department, the course being challenged, and the faculty member.
  • Contact the academic department to schedule the date and time of your assessment.
  • Upon completion of the exam, your final grade will be posted to your student record.


Application for a course challenge 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 assessment with no entry to your permanent record. However, your application fee is non-refundable. A student wishing to take an assessment previously canceled at the student's request must reapply and pay all applicable fees.
  • UMGC academic standards will govern the assessment. The grades awarded 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 course challenge assessment.
  • Credit earned by course challenge assessment results in a letter grade that is entered on your official academic record and is used in computing your cumulative grade point average. However, this credit may not be applied to the requirement for graded coursework in your major.
  • You may not attempt a course challenge in any writing course or in any course for which you have previously earned a letter grade (including a W) at UMGC.
  • No course challenge may be attempted more than twice. An "attempt" is considered to begin at the time you see the contents of the assessment.
  • You may only challenge current, active UMGC 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 assessments, UMGC reserves the right to determine your native language and the level of assessment to be taken. The following 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 to challenge a course in lower-level courses of your native language.
    • You may not seek to challenge an upper-level conversation course of your native language.
    • You may seek to challenge in upper-level courses of your native language when those courses emphasize linguistics, literature, or written translation to and from English.

Prior Learning Course Challenge Criteria

Understand the criteria to apply for the Course Challenge final exam equivalent at UMGC.

Apply for Course Challenge Assessment

Apply for a course challenge assessment to determine undergraduate credit at UMGC.

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