As a student in the General Studies Degree program, you may be able to earn academic credits for professional experiences. These self-acquired competency (SAC) credits are awarded based on documentation you provide.
Please read the information below before seeking SAC credit. It includes practical steps for documenting your experiences and demonstrating how the competencies you derived from them satisfy general studies academic requirements.
The policies pertaining to this process, as stated in the School of Continuing Studies’ undergraduate General Studies Degree Bulletin, are given at the end of this document.
Consult with your general studies academic advisor as early as possible to develop a plan of study for the Associate of Arts in General Studies or the Bachelor of General Studies. Doing so will allow your advisor to recommend the best time for you to seek SAC credits in relationship to your future course schedule.
By talking to your advisor early, you’ll also avoid taking courses that might be covered through SAC. For example, if you have a recent license, you may already have credits that you can apply toward your degree. Awarding of SAC credits can be determined early if the basis for credit is a completed license or certificate that meets government or professional organization standards and that has been completed within the past five years.
Note: Most students do not seek SAC credits. Of those who do so, few provide adequate evidence for more than 6 to 12 credits. Typically, those who succeed at earning SAC credits have recently completed a license or certificate in a required competency area.
Think realistically about whether you have completed significant experiences that could be considered for academic credit.
Keep in mind that you’re most likely to earn academic credits if your experience
Once you have gotten approval from your advisor, you may submit an initial plan detailing your request for SAC credits.
Your initial plan should include
Submit the plan, along with a cover memo from your advisor, to the SCS dean for review.
The dean’s office will make recommendations based on the strengths of your case and the likelihood that an acceptable Indiana University faculty member will review your portfolio. (The SAC credit and portfolio review process may be delegated by the dean to the local campus director of general studies.)
The dean's office (or campus director of general studies) may determine that you have not provided sufficient evidence, and/or a professor is not available to consider SAC credit.
Alternatively, the dean's office may determine that you can seek SAC credit. The dean may recommend that the academic unit (approved professor) award credit based solely on the merits of your initial plan; or the dean may recommend that you develop a portfolio. The portfolio may be
Before pursuing one of the options in Step Five, be aware of the following:
As noted in Step Four, the dean may recommend that you pursue SAC credit following one of the options below.
The SAC credit and portfolio review process may be delegated by the dean to the local campus director of general studies.
The IU SCS Dean’s office identifies a faculty member to review your initial plan as the sole basis for awarding SAC credits. You pay tuition and fees (based on your local campus policy) for any SAC credit that is approved.
You acquire recommended materials that will direct you in developing a formal portfolio. You submit the portfolio to the dean’s office for review. You pay tuition and fees (based on your local campus policy) for any SAC credit that is approved.
Recommended materials include Earn College Credit for What You Know (2006) from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. This document provides a workable outline for students capable of developing their own portfolio. You can purchase the publication online or through campus bookstores.
Normally with a self-directed portfolio, you gather documentation and present it—along with a narrative—in a three-ring notebook for review. You may also be able to submit portfolio materials by email, attaching any scanned materials.
Note: You may submit photocopies of certificates, licenses, and seminar certificates, but your letters of recommendation or testimonies of student accomplishments should be original.
This review process may take two to six months.
If you are seeking 3 or more SAC credits, you may be directed to enroll in a formal course to help you compile a more extensive portfolio. Such a course may be available at your local IU campus and is also available through independent study (Education F400).
Note: You must have approval from the SCS dean to enroll in a portfolio development course.
Portfolio development courses normally involve a semester of work. They are based on Earn College Credit for What You Know (2006) from the Council for Adult and Experimental Learning and on other resources recommended by your local campus or independent study instructor.
You pay tuition and fees for the course and earn academic credit for successful completion of the course. You also pay tuition and any related service fees for any SAC credits approved and granted. You may submit a portfolio or portfolios for review without additional service fees.
The review process may take two to six months. The IU SCS dean’s office will compile a directory of faculty approved for review of SAC credit plans and portfolios.