Academic Credit for Prior Learning, Knowledge, and Experience

Students may challenge courses designated by departments to receive credit through extensive professional experience or learning acquired outside formal, higher education. Departments choose appropriate methodologies for experiential learning course credit. These may include, but are not limited to, written examinations, portfolios, personal interviews, demonstrations and/or other means of assessment. Currently, CSUN departments facilitate this process through Challenge Examination.

Credit by Challenge Examination Taken at CSUN

Students may challenge courses by taking examinations developed at CSUN. Credit will be awarded to those who pass them successfully.

Currently enrolled undergraduate students not on academic notice who are especially qualified through experience or private instruction may petition to earn credit by challenge examination in selected courses designated by each department. A challenge examination allows the awarding of academic credit through successful completion of an appropriate examination methodology chosen by the department for a specific Catalog-listed course. Each department has the sole responsibility for designating which courses may be challenged. In some cases, as deemed appropriate by the department, supporting documentation may be obtained from a field supervisor or employer. No instructor or department is obliged to offer experiential course credit.

Challenge examinations are given under the following guidelines:

  1. Students should consult the department to determine if credit may be granted for prerequisites that are required for the course being challenged prior to requesting Challenge Examination.
  2. An approval of an application for Challenge Examination will expire if the examination has not been completed by the end of the semester.
  3. Students may attempt the Challenge Examination for a course only once.
  4. Challenge Examinations may not be used to meet any provisions of the Repeat Course Policy.
  5. Students electing the Credit/No Credit grading option on enrollment for Challenge Examination will be assigned a Credit grade for work equivalent to A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+ or C grades; “No Credit” will be assigned for work equivalent to C-, D+, D, D- or F grades. CR/NC grades are not included in the calculation of the GPA.
  6. The determination of eligibility for Challenge Examination rests with the department involved, including exceptions to these guidelines.


Before the registration period begins, a student who wants to challenge a course by examination should consult with the chair of the department offering the course. If the chair approves the request, the student will be given a 5-digit class number and a permission number to enroll in the “Credit by Challenge Examination” course. The student can then register online for the Challenge Examination course during regular registration periods. All required tuition and other fees must be paid according to the Payment Due Dates on the Student Finance website. The course that students enroll in for the examination credit does carry billing units. However, if the student is already enrolled full-time, no additional charges will be applied due to the University’s fee structure.

Related Policies

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit

CSUN grants credit toward its undergraduate degrees for successful completion of examinations of the Advanced Placement Program of the College Board. Students who present scores of three or better will be granted up to six semester units (nine quarter units) of college credit. Students should have their official AP course transcripts and test scores sent to …

College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Credit

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a series of examinations that test college-level knowledge gained through professional development, on-the-job training, the military, etc. CLEP affords participants an opportunity to obtain college credit, satisfy course prerequisites or meet general requirements by examination. Students attending CSUN should review the required CLEP scores for meeting course equivalencies in …

International Baccalaureate (IB) Examination Credit

International Baccalaureate (IB) courses designated as Honors Courses on the UC/CSU “a-g” college preparatory subjects list are awarded extra grade points for computation of the high school GPA. To be awarded advanced standing credit for successful performance, the IB test must be higher level (HL) and have a score of 4 or higher. IB tests …

National Council of Licensure Examination (NCLEX) Credit

Students in the RN-BSN or the Collaborative programs may automatically receive 15 units of NCLEX credit after: Successfully completing NURS 303 Introduction to Professional Nursing. Proof of passing the NCLEX examination as demonstrated via verification through the Department of Consumer Affairs License Search, or the candidate’s state equivalent.

Restrictions on Examination Credit

No credit for any examinations will be awarded to a student who has: Taken the examination previously within the past term. Earned equivalent credit through regular coursework, credit by another examination or other instructional processes, such as correspondence. Earned credit previously at a level more advanced than that represented by the examination in question. Credit …

Credit for Work Completed Prior to Earning the Baccalaureate Degree

A maximum of 9 units of credit earned at the 500-level during a student’s final undergraduate semester at CSUN may be applied toward a master’s degree, subject to departmental approval. Requests for such credit are filed following admission to a CSUN master’s program on a Graduate Petition form. Courses are subject to the following University …

Credit for Work Taken at Community Colleges

Credit earned in regionally accredited community colleges will be evaluated in accordance with the following provisions: Community college credit is allowed up to a maximum of 70 semester units. Credits and grades earned after the student has the maximum allowable may only satisfy subject and GPA requirements but cannot apply toward the total units required …

Credit for Extension and Correspondence Courses

The maximum amount of credit through correspondence courses and/or extension courses allowed toward the baccalaureate degree is 24 units. The maximum allowed toward the second baccalaureate or master’s degree is 9 units. Extension course credit does not apply toward the residence requirement at CSUN. Extension courses numbered 800 do not carry any credit toward CSUN …

Credit for Non-Collegiate Sponsored Courses of Instruction

CSUN grants undergraduate degree credit for successful completion of non-collegiate instruction, either military or civilian, appropriate to the baccalaureate degree, which has been recommended by the Commission on Educational Credit and Credentials of the American Council on Education. The numbers of units allowed are those recommended in the Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experience …

Credit for Military/Veterans

CSUN grants elective undergraduate credit to veterans who have completed basic training in the U.S. Armed Forces, which has been recommended by the American Council on Education (ACE) Military Guide, ACE National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training and National College Credit Recommendation Service. A maximum of 24 extension course units may be allowed …

Transfer Work for Graduate Programs

Credit for work performed in extension or at another regionally accredited institution is subject to the following limitations: Transfer of work is subject to the approval of the graduate coordinator of the program that the student will enroll in and the Associate Vice President of Graduate Studies. An unofficial transcript must be submitted with either …