Recording Non-Traditional Credit

OFFICE OF RECORD: Office of Vice President for Academic Affairs
ISSUED BY: Vice President for Academic Affairs
APPROVED BY: Dr. David Borofsky, Pres                                      03-51-00
EFFECTIVE DATE: 9/20/89 (Last Revised 9/14/12)



Dakota State University allows degree-seeking students who are currently enrolled to earn academic credit for non-traditional learning experiences when those experiences are equivalent to coursework provided at Dakota State University. DSU will evaluate and record credit for the non-traditional learning experience of degree-seeking students currently enrolled at Dakota State University or graduates of Dakota State University seeking enhanced certification, licensure or employment opportunities.

Baccalaureate-degree students may earn a maximum of 30 semester hours and associate-degree students may earn a maximum of 15 semester hours via non-traditional learning experiences. (Credits earned through nationally normed exams are not included in this maximum credit count.) Validation of military credit is limited to an additional 30 hours of credit for baccalaureate degrees and an additional 15 hours of credit for associate degrees. These maximum credit limits apply, regardless of the number of majors in which the student is enrolled. If credit by examination is accepted, the permanent record will show the equivalent course name and a grade of EX for the specified number of credits. If credit is accepted by another form of validation, the grade will be S for the specified number of credits. No entry will be made on the record if the examination is failed. The examination results will not be included in calculation of either the semester or the cumulative grade point averages. Credit earned for non-traditional learning experience will not meet degree residency requirements.  If a student has not successfully completed a course (a grade of D or F), credit for prior learning/work experience cannot be used to gain credit for the failed course.

DakotaStateUniversity cannot guarantee that credit earned for non-traditional learning experience at DSU will transfer to other institutions, since institutional practices/policies vary.


Advanced Placement (AP)

Credit for work accomplished in high school through the Advanced Placement program of the College Examination Board will be awarded, based on the approved exams and scores noted in the university catalog under "Advanced Placement".

  1. Students complete the Advanced Placement test administered by their high schools and request that the scores be reported to DakotaStateUniversity.
  2. AP sends scores to the students and to DSU's Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Vice President's Office notifies the Registrar of the exam results and, if the scores meet or exceed DSU's standards, the Registrar enters the credit for the examinations on the students' transcripts. (Nothing is entered on transcripts if the AP scores do not meet DSU credit standards.)

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

Students may take CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exams to earn credit for specific courses.   A listing of specific course equivalencies and minimum scores are noted in the university catalog under "CLEP".

The CLEP program has a long-standing policy that an exam may not be retaken within a six-month period. This waiting period provides the student with an opportunity to spend additional time preparing for the exam or the option of taking a classroom course.

Students contact the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment (Heston Hall, 256-5101) for CLEP information and to schedule an appointment.

  1. Students pay the appropriate test fee and complete the computer-based exam. Military personnel and eligible civilian employees and spouses can complete the CLEP exams at DSU without paying the exam fee. Please contact the OIEA at 256-5101 for more information on CLEP testing for military personnel.
  2. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment provides an unofficial score report to the student and electronically submits the test results to Educational Testing Services. ETS sends the official results to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Vice President's Office notifies the Registrar and the student of the official exam results and, if the score meets or exceeds DSU's standards, the Registrar enters the credit for the exam on the student's transcript. (Nothing is entered on the transcript if the CLEP score does not meet DSU credit standards.)

 CLEP examinations do not meet the writing intensive requirements for general education.

Departmental Credit-by-Examination

For subjects that have no equivalent CLEP examination, students may petition to challenge college coursework via a departmental credit-by-examination. A grade of "C" or better is required on the exam to earn course credit.

DSU credit will be granted only for passing scores earned the first time each subject department credit-by-exam is taken. If a student earned a grade of D or F in a course, a departmental credit-by-exam cannot be used to gain DSU credit for that course.

  1. Students discuss the proposal with the dean of the college that offers the course. With the approval of the dean, the student completes the "Application for Credit by Examination" form available through the Enrollment Services office or DSU's website. Current costs for challenge exams are noted in the university catalog under Tuition, Fees, Housing and Board costs.
  2. The dean approves the student request, works with a faculty member to set very specific standards for earning the credits (test, essay, project, or demonstrating abilities) and makes arrangements for administration and grading of the examination. This request must be approved by the dean by the deadline for withdrawal from a full-semester course, which is published in the Academic Calendar.
  3. The faculty member identified on the form administers and grades the examination following the guidelines established by the college. Examination results are reported by the faculty to the dean prior to the end of the academic term in which the grade will be recorded.
  4. The dean notifies the student and the Registrar of the outcome. Only successful exams are noted on the student's transcript.

Credit for Prior Learning/Work Experience

Requests for credit via prior learning/work experience must directly correspond to academic coursework offered by Dakota State University. The experiential learning must be fully described and documented by the student in writing to indicate the direct correspondence or equivalence to specific university course(s). Requests should be evaluated by external supervisors, if appropriate, and by University officials in light of the student's educational objectives.

  1. Students prepare a cover memo to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, stating the course(s) for which he/she would like to receive prior learning credit. In addition to the memo, the student's application for prior learning should include:
    1. Transcript for the course(s) (either an original or a copy) that includes the course prefix, number, title and date of enrollment;
    2. Course syllabus;
    3. Name of instructor;
    4. Any course projects that seem appropriate;
    5. Statement/memo from the student's DSU advisor, indicating the student and the advisor have discussed the student's application and the advisor agrees that prior learning credit is appropriate for this student in this major; and
    6. $50 per transcript processing fee
    In cases where the prior learning application is based on experiential learning, rather than completed coursework, the documentation should include:
    1. Statements from work supervisors (or the company's human resources director) indicating job requirements and skills needed for the position held,
    2. Examples of work projects,
    3. Other appropriate proof of work experience
    4. $50 per course processing fee
  2. Student memo plus documentation is submitted to the Vice President for Academic Affairs;
  3. A faculty committee is appointed to review the application and reports its recommendation to the college dean, who forwards the recommendation to the Vice President for Academic Affairs;
  4. Enrollment Services, the student, and advisor are notified by the Vice President for Academic Affairs of the committee's recommendation.

Military Credit

Military credits are evaluated according to guidelines set forth by the American Council on Education and published in the Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services. Dakota State University has been approved as a Service members Opportunity College and is listed in the SOC Guide for use by military personnel.

Students requesting evaluation of military work should provide at least one of the following documents to the Registrar:

  • DD Form 214 "Armed Forces of the United States Report of Transfer or Discharge"
  • Copy of the course evaluation done by the American Council of Education (ACE)
  • An official copy of DANTES transcript

Last Updated: 11/1/12