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Other Ways to Earn Credits

Although a classroom learning experience is the traditional way to earn credits, any Westfield State University student can benefit from alternate ways to obtain academic credit.  Experiential learning, testing, and independent course work are all available to Westfield State students and help to balance the classroom experience.  Please review the links below for more information, or contact the College of Graduate & Continuing Education at 413-572-8020 or wsucgce@westfield.ma.edu.

ACE Credits

The University accepts and awards credit based on the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations and transcripts these credits at no cost to the student.

Prior-Learning Portfolios

The purpose of a Prior-Learning Portfolio (PLP) is to award academic credit for prior learning.  That is, if a student can demonstrate proficiency in an academic subject similar to the proficiency developed through coursework, the student can receive academic credit for that proficiency.  It is important to note that credit is not given for work experience – although this experience can certainly lead to the level of proficiency that would warrant the award of credit.  Credit is only granted for supervised projects that clearly convey proficiency in a subject.  PLP credits may not be available for all Academic Departments.

Process:

  1. Any student interested in PLP credits must submit a “Prior-Learning Portfolio” application (please contact the College of Graduate & Continuing Education at 413-572-8020 for an application).  Interested students will also be required to meet with the academic department chairperson or College of Graduate & Continuing Education (CGCE) chairperson (or respective designee) to discuss suitability for moving forward in the PLP process.
  2. After application review by the appropriate chair (or respective designee) and the Dean of Graduate & Continuing Education, the student will be informed if they meet major-specific criteria for continuing in the PLP process.  A faculty advisor should then be identified.
  3. Students will enroll in ENGL201, Writing Workshop: Portfolio Writing.  The outcome of this course will be a proposal for assessing prior learning experiences.  This proposal will be used as the foundation for their PLP.  The successful completion of the 3-credit portfolio course does not guarantee additional PLP credits. Please note than ENGL201 is a 3-credit course and students will be charged tuition and fees accordingly.
  4. Portfolio proposals will be submitted to a departmental designated faculty advisor for review.  When the proposal is deemed appropriate, the student will work with the faculty advisor to develop the academic content of their life experience.  The credit for PLP coursework will be considered departmental independent study credit, varying from 3 – 12 credits.  Total credits for this experience cannot exceed 12 credits and are included in the overall 12-credit independent study limit at Westfield State University.  PLP credits cannot be used as a replacement for college core.  A student cannot earn more than 10% of their Westfield State University credits in PLP credits.  Students are eligible to apply for PLP credits in multiple departments. An additional fee for awarded PLP credits will be charged.
  5. Faculty advisors will give final approval and the PLP grade. A final copy of the PLP will be placed in the student’s file.

If you are interested in PLP credits through the Art department, please fill out the Art PLP Application.

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Capstone Experience

Undergraduate and graduate students at Westfield State University have the ability to complete a capstone experience at the end of their programs as a way to demonstrate mastery of core concepts and skills in their major or program of choice.  In most cases, credits are awarded for the capstone experience and in some cases, students can opt to complete a capstone experience rather than completing a comprehensive exam or thesis. The capstone experience is a formal writing project on a scholarly topic and overseen by a faculty advisor.

Sample Capstone Projects from past Master of Public Administration students:

  1. Proposed Bicycle Master Plan for the Town of Enfield, CT.
  2. Sisters in the Brotherhood: a Regional Study of Female Police Officers in Western Massachusetts.
  3. Public Squares: Understanding Their Role in the Revitalization of Downtowns.
  4. Planting the Seeds: Creating Partnerships Between Westfield State College and the Non-Profit Community.
  5. Evaluating School-Based Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment in Berkshire County.
  6. Westfield State College Sustainability Assessment and Recommendations.
  7. The City of Northampton’s CDBG Economic Development Program: A Participant-Emphasized Impact Evaluation.
  8. Leadership Development Curriculum.

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CLEP Program

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) gives you the opportunity to receive college credit for what you already know by earning qualifying scores on any of the 33 exams. The CLEP program gives you the chance to earn credit for knowledge you have already acquired through independent study, prior course work, on the job training, professional development, cultural pursuits or internships.

People of a wide range of ages and from all walks of life have benefited from earning credit through CLEP over the years. CLEP helps people demonstrate their college-level knowledge and earn college credit – regardless of where or how they acquired the knowledge.  It is possible that as a result of doing well on a CLEP Exam you can earn the same amount of credit that you’d get if you took – and did well in- a semester – or year long college course covering the same material

Academic credit or waiver of requirements may be granted based upon performance on the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). The CLEP test is given solely by computer. The minimum credit-granting score for all CLEP examinations taken shall be 50 in all academic area except English. A description of all of the exams is available on the CLEP web site at http://clep.collegeboard.org/exams/offered. CLEP Credit is treated like community college-level course work and is subject to all college graduation policies regarding transfer work. A maximum of 60 credits towards graduation may be earned through CLEP examinations.

Whether the completion of a CLEP examination results in the waiver of a major requirement is to be determined by the appropriate academic department. Therefore, students should consult with the appropriate advisor. Common Core credit can be granted in the full amount that a student potentially can earn in the appropriate core category, not to exceed one year’s worth. Students who score 50 or above on the General Composition Exam (with essay), or 51 or better on the Freshman Composition Exam (with essay) may be granted credit for a first year composition or English course. This is subject to review by the English department. Credit or wavier of requirements will not be granted unless the examination is taken prior to enrollment in the course that is equivalent to the exam.

The majority of people who take them are students who have not completed their Common Core requirements. In some instances CLEP credit can replace the need to take certain core courses. This is a benefit that many students are now taking advantage of. It saves you money while at the same time earning you college credit for knowledge you have already acquired. CLEP exam cost will be $85.00. This fee must be paid online at: http://clepportal.collegeboard.org/myaccount. Payment in the form of a credit card, debit card of check is accepted. You do not have to be an enrolled student here to take a CLEP exam. One other advantage is CLEP credit can be transferred along with other transcripts for consideration when applying to Westfield State University.

In the event that a test must be cancelled, students will be notified by phone of the cancellation in as timely a manner as possible. A make-up day will be offered for a cancelled exam. Test-takers can also elect to take the exam at any later date CLEP testing is offered. Students unable to take the exam on an alternate day will be refunded their $20 registration fee.

Upcoming CLEP test dates:

CLEP Will not be available at Westfield State University until the Spring Semester.  Please check back in January 2018.

Instructions for registering for a CLEP exam:

1. Complete  the Westfield State CLEP Registration form online.

Online Registration Form

You can also print and complete the below form and mail:

Paper Registration Form 
 2. Wait for a confirmation email or phone call from our office.

3. Once your testing date has been confirmed, please visit http://clep.collegeboard.org/register/exam to register for the exam.

4. Print your Ticket ID and payment receipt and bring them with you on the day of the exam. Please make sure your ticket states the correct exam you would like to take.

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Credit for Military Experience

Westfield State University offers students with military experience the opportunity to receive graduation credit for this experience. Official documentation of military experience must be submitted to the College of Graduate and Continuing Education Office for evaluation.

Students may receive 3 credit hours in movement science electives for their Basic Training, if they have served a minimum of 9 consecutive months of active duty in the armed forces. Students must submit a Form DD214 documenting this period of service. Students in the National Guard may apply for this credit only if the period of active duty began January 1, 1995 or later.

To apply for credit for other types of military experience, students must submit official copies of Form DD295, the AARTS transcript, or the SMART transcript. These are the only military documents that Westfield accepts as the equivalent of an official transcript. The Form DD295 must be completed and signed by the student’s commanding officer in accordance with the course codes and specifications published in the current issue of the American Council on Education’s Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services. Effective May 1, 2003, new Massachusetts Quinn Bill legislation prohibits criminal justice majors from receiving credit for military experience. Credit for military experience is treated as community college-level course work and is subject to all College policies regarding other transfer course work.

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Internships

Helpful Information

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