IUPUI Bulletins » Policies » Academic Policy » Special Credit and Test Credit

Academic Policy

Special Credit and Test Credit

Credit for Prior Learning

Indiana University recognizes the standards for credit for prior learning (CPL) established by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) https://www.cael.org/ten-standards-for-assessing-learning. Students who receive a credential from state or federal units, the military, business and industry, or other organizations whose primary mission is not education may be eligible to receive credit at an Indiana University campus. CPL is any learning, skill, or experience outside the university, and other transfer credit, for which transferable academic credit equivalency is being sought.

See the IU policy on Credit for Prior Learning which has been adopted to comply with I.C. 21-42-7-2, I.C. 20-36-6, and HLC Assumed Practices https://www.hlcommission.org/ and to support on-time degree completion, cost of degree, and career relevance through the continued expansion of the use of credit for prior learning (sometimes referred to in the literature as “prior learning assessment” or PLA). 

Appropriate and Prohibited Uses of Credit for Prior Learning

CPL transfer credit awarded by a campus may be used to:

  • Replace a required course within a major;
  • Apply as an optional course within the major;
  • Apply as a general elective;
  • Apply as a basic degree requirement; or
  • Waive a prerequisite.
  • Transfer credit based on CPL that is awarded by a unit cannot be used to establish residency. Transfer credit based on exam generally cannot be used to establish residency.

College Credit Through External Exams (Test Credit)

Campuses may award distributed or discipline-specific undistributed credit as established by the appropriate disciplinary faculty for challenge exams including:

  • Advanced Placement (AP);
  • International Baccalaureate (IB);
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP);
  • Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support Programs (DANTES);
  • Cambridge International A-level and AS-level;
  • Additional examinations can be accepted as determined by disciplinary faculty, such as those by the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations and validated competencies.

Maximum number of credits, prerequisites, and equivalences are established by the enrolled IU campus and therefore may differ from campus to campus.

Special Credit

Special credit is course credit awarded by an academic unit to a student who has satisfied an academic requirement based on an individual examination of the student's knowledge, work or experience that was not part of a regular course.

Academic departments may grant students, on a case-by-case basis, special course credit based on demonstration of proficiency in a particular discipline. A personal skill, talent, job experience, or other experiential-based proficiency may be considered in the evaluation process.

Each department establishes the appropriate academic standards and methods of evaluation. In general, students may be required to sit for an exam, complete an assignment, audition, or provide a portfolio to establish their level of skill. Some departments also may require that a student take additional, typically more advanced, courses in the discipline before awarding the introductory or lower-level credit.

In other cases, instead of processing as special credit, the department may simply waive the requirement that the student take that specific course. However, overall degree requirements (total hours) remain, and students complete another course to earn enough total hours to graduate.  For more information, contact your school advisor.

Departments generally grade the work "S" for Satisfactory or will choose not to award special credit. In exceptional circumstances, an "A" may be awarded if it is deemed outstanding but will not be used in computing GPA.

Students who establish eligibility for special credit must apply for the credit in the course department. Not all schools accept special credit, and special credit does not transfer to IUPUI from other universities. Changing schools at IUPUI may result in special credit awards not being used to meet degree requirements of the new school.

Special Credit appears on the transcript for the semester it was awarded. The heading "Indiana University Special Credit" accompanies the course information and grade.

Military Service

In compliance with Indiana statute (I.C. 21-42-7-2), college credit for military personnel must be awarded for academic achievements through a number of different modes, provided the “individual’s military service [is] in an active or reserve component of the armed forces of the United States or the Indiana National Guard or upon the individual’s receiving an honorable discharge from the armed forces of the United States or the Indiana National Guard." Visit IU’s policy on Transfer Credit Related to Military Service for complete details.

In accordance with Indiana Statute (SB 331), IUPUI uses the American Council on Education's Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services to assess transferable military credit upon receipt of the admission package. No transfer credit is awarded for vocational certificate category ACE recommendations.

To stay in compliance with IUPUI Policy, Indiana Statute (SB331) and VA guidelines IUPUI requests all transcripts are submitted as part of the admissions package. This includes your Joint Services Transcript JST) and/or Community College of the Air Force transcript. Once received your military transcript will be evaluated by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and up to twelve credit hours will be awarded. The amount of credit awarded is not intended to disregard your service, but instead in awareness that you may want to become more marketable in the civilian world by taking additional college courses as well as making sure that your financial aid is not affected by undistributed credits.

We encourage every military member to request a re-evaluation of your military transcript or prior learning assessment once you are matriculated into your desired degree plan. This process can be started by having a conversation with your school academic advisor.

If you have questions about transferring military credits to IUPUI, contact the Office of Veterans and Military Personnel at gibenefi@iupui.edu.


If special credit is awarded as a result of examination:

  • For new students, no fees are assessed if the request is processed within the first three semesters (including summer) following their initial enrollment. The semesters will be counted sequentially, regardless of the student's enrollment status in the semesters.
  • For first semester transfer students, a fee of $20 per credit hour will be assessed.
  • A nominal fee per credit hour also applies to students receiving special language credit for lower-level language courses, following the satisfactory completion of a higher-level course
  • All other students will be assessed a fee corresponding to the current credit hour rate based on their academic program and in-state or out-of-state status.

The date the request is processed is used to determine the student’s status. Current special credit fees are charged in cases where the exam was taken in a preceding year.

If special credit is awarded as a result of credentials or experience, $20 per credit hour will be assessed (up to a maximum of $100 per course).