Adult learners bring tremendous assets to the classroom through their personal and professional experience. The desire to learn and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter brings the student to a higher standard of achievement. Strayer University recognizes the concept that learning is a lifelong activity and that many life learning experiences have a value equivalent to college-level coursework.

The Experiential Learning Portfolio (ELP) is a method whereby knowledge gained through an individual’s life learning is evaluated for undergraduate academic credit. This credit may be applied to a specific course requirement in an undergraduate certificate, diploma or degree. The student assembles and submits a portfolio of information, which is evaluated by faculty members who are experts in that subject. Developing an ELP for a course requires considerable effort, as the student must demonstrate that life learning has provided the equivalent of at least 80% of the learning objectives for the particular course.

This page is designed to help the student understand how to prepare an ELP and how to determine if his/her learning is appropriate for college-level credit. It also provides printable resources that will help the student prepare a successful ELP.


What should I know before I consider pursuing an ELP?


ELP credit does not count towards residency requirements at Strayer University. Alternative credit appears as “TC” on the student’s academic record. Please click here to see the University's policies regarding transfer credit.

Course Eligibility, Limitations and Exclusions:

ELP credit may be utilized to earn credit for undergraduate courses that can be applied towards the completion of an undergraduate program. Some courses may not be appropriate for ELP credit. Each discipline has identified the specific courses for which an ELP may be submitted. Please be sure you review this list prior to submitting your application. The following exclusions and limitations apply:

  • ELP credit may not be used to replace a failing grade in a course.
  • ELP credit may not be attempted for a course that has already been taken at Strayer University regardless of the grade.
  • Courses with corresponding CLEP/DSST exams are not eligible for ELP credit. Click here to see a list of available CLEP and DSST exams.
  • Capstone courses (499 senior seminar level course) are not eligible for ELP credit:
    • ACC 499: Senior Seminar in Accounting
    • BUS 499: Senior Seminar in Business Administration
    • CIS 499: Senior Seminar in Computer Information Systems
    • ECO 499: Senior Seminar in Economics
    • HTM 499: Senior Seminar in Hospitality and Tourism Management
    • LEG 499: Senior Seminar in Legal Studies
  • No more than half of the required courses in Area II (Major Component or Concentration Component) may be satisfied by ELP credit.
  • Should a student attempt credit for a course through ELP and not pass, the student may only receive credit for the course by successfully completing it at Strayer University.
  • It is recommended that students interested in pursuing ELP credit meet with a faculty advisor prior to submitting the ELP application.
  • To successfully receive ELP credit, the student’s prior learning must fulfill at least 80% of the expected learning outcomes listed on the course syllabus. Students may obtain a copy of the syllabus through any academic advisor.
  • Students may not pursue an ELP in their final term.

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How do I know if my learning is college level?

Course outcomes are the basic measure of whether a student has achieved college-level learning. Course outcomes are developed for all Strayer University courses and appear on the syllabus for the course. If you are considering an ELP, it is recommended you review the syllabus and its outcomes with an academic advisor to ensure your prior learning is eligible for evaluation.

Developing an ELP for a course requires considerable effort. You and your advisor should review the course description and course outcomes and closely align your experience to those objectives. Your advisor will work with you to determine an approximate percentage of each stage of learning. For instance, a business software application may draw 40% from the levels of knowledge and understanding and 60% from application. Through the ELP process, you will then document how your knowledge meets the specific learning objectives in the course.

Strayer University bases the evaluation of the ELP using the experiential learning standards outlined through The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). CAEL guidelines include the following:

  • Credit should only be awarded for learning and not for experience.
  • College credit should be awarded only for college-level learning.
  • Credit should be awarded only for learning that has a balance, appropriate to the subject, between theory and practical applications.
  • Competence levels and credit awards must be made by subject matter experts.
  • Credit should be appropriate to the academic context in which it is accepted.
  • Credit awards and transcript entries should be monitored to avoid duplicating credit.
  • Policies and procedures should be fully disclosed and prominently available.
  • Fees charged for assessment should be based on services, not amount of credit.
  • Personnel involved in assessment should receive adequate training.
  • Assessment programs should be regularly monitored, reviewed, evaluated, and revised.

There are several different types of learning experiences that may be evaluated:

  • Professional training programs that are not evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE).
  • Licenses and Certificates that are not evaluated by ACE.
  • Experiential learning.

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What should I know about submitting an ELP for my Professional Training programs not evaluated by ACE?

Students must initially be prepared to demonstrate basic outcomes for the ELP. Individual courses may require additional evidence that will be identified in the individual course shell.

  • Proof of Completion: Proof of completion may include transcripts, training records, etc.
  • Proof of Hours Earned: The length of training or coursework in hours or CEUs. Proof of hours may be listed on a transcript, training record or in a letter from the training provider on letterhead with the signature and contact information from the verifying representative.
  • Course Description: This should include a description of course objectives and/or outcomes. Course descriptions may be submitted on letterhead from the training provider or a photocopy of a course catalog. Course descriptions should be from the same year in which the course was completed.

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What should I know about submitting an ELP for my Licenses and Certificates not evaluated by ACE?

Students must initially be prepared to demonstrate basic outcomes for ELP. Individual courses may require additional evidence that will be identified in the individual course shell.

  • Proof of Completion: Verifies successful completion of license or certification. Some examples of proof of completion include certificates, transcripts, etc.
  • Demonstration of knowledge: This should provide details of how the certification or license is applied toward specific learning objectives.

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What should I know about submitting an ELP for Experiential Learning?

Initially, students must be prepared to demonstrate basic outcomes for an ELP. Individual courses may require additional evidence that will be identified in the course shell. A list of pre-approved licenses and certificates is provided by discipline.

  • Resume: A resume serves to verify knowledge, skills and training gained in areas being reviewed.
  • Written Narrative: The written narrative serves as documentation demonstrating command of the outcomes of the course petitioned. Information must be accurate and verifiable.
  • Evidence of Learning: Evidence of learning may include articles, essays, samples of work, presentations, training material, etc.
  • Demonstrations/Simulations: Performance demonstration may be provided as evidence of a working knowledge.

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Additional Resources

Below is a list of printable resources that you may find helpful as you develop an ELP:

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