Assessment of Your Learning

St. Cloud State University uses four different methods to assess and give credit for learning in a professional environment – challenge exams, standardized tests, portfolios, and military training. Find information for each of these further down on this page.

Challenge Exams

Challenge exams, sometimes referred to as Credit by Examination, are course-specific tests established by St. Cloud State University faculty experts. Credit is granted by achieving a certain score determined by the departmental faculty offering the exam.

A student may earn a maximum of 30 semester hours of credit by examination. Entering freshman students are eligible to take examinations for credit if they have a “B” average in high school in the area to be examined and for all high school work. Requests for exceptions will be considered when test scores or other evidence suggests greater ability than the high school record indicates.

All other students who meet the qualifications listed below may apply to take credit examinations:

  • The student must have a “B” average for all university work taken in the subject area of the examination.
  • A student should have a “C” average for all St. Cloud State University courses. Additionally, a student must have completed at least one semester and at least 15 credits in order to apply to take credit examinations.

Students may not take examinations for the following reasons:

  • Students may not take examinations at a level below that of courses already taken in an area. For example, a student who has completed a 200-level course in a specific subject area may not take an examination for credit in a 100-level course in the same area without the special approval of the dean. Exceptions may be made in the case of transfer students who, in the judgment of the chairperson of the department involved, have not had previous opportunity to cover the material in the 100-level course.
  • Students having completed 75 or more semester hours may not receive credit by examination in courses at the 100-level or 200-level. Departments may recommend exceptions to this policy.
  • A student may not take an examination in a course more than once.

Additional information

  • Credit received by examination counts toward residence, general education, major and minor requirements.
  • Examinations are graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Only “satisfactory” grades are entered on the student’s permanent record.
  • Examinations for credit may be requested in any course. The final authority for determining whether a student may take a course by examination rests with the department chairperson involved.
  • Students are not required to take the examination in the same semester in which they apply. For example, students are encouraged to apply in the spring semester for examinations to be taken in the fall, thus permitting the use of summer for reading and preparation.
  • Cost of credit-by-examination is one-third the cost of a student’s tuition rate per credit.

Standardized Tests

Students may earn course credit through standardized tests such as CLEP, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), as well as other subject-specific exams offered through the DSST program.

Official score reports should be sent to the Office of Records and Registration, Administrative Services Building Office 118, 720 4th Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301.

Portfolio Assessment

Students who have completed at least 15 credits at St. Cloud State may opt to demonstrate their learning via a portfolio, which largely consists of “showing” what one has learned through writing.

Students interested in this approach should first visit with a faculty member in the department or program for which credit is being sought to discuss whether your previous learning experiences would lend themselves to portfolio assessment. If so, the student will be required to register for a 1-credit portfolio course with the faculty member to ensure appropriate development of the portfolio. 

More information and application forms are available through the Student Registration and Financial Services web site.

Military Training

St. Cloud State has a long-standing practice of honoring veterans. In an effort to help make veterans’ transition to life at St. Cloud State, we encourage you to have your official military transcript evaluated for possible credit. Official transcripts should be sent to the Office of Records and Registration, AS 118, 720 Fourth Ave South, St. Cloud, MN 56301.

Air Force veterans will need their CCAF transcripts; Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard veterans will need JST transcripts.

For more detailed information on how military service courses intersect with university courses, veterans are encourage to read ACE’s Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experience in the Armed Services.

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