Chatham University

Portfolio Development for Gateway Students

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a PLA portfolio contribute to my educational goals at Chatham University?
Chatham University recognizes that prior learning may provide a knowledge base equivalent to college–level learning outcomes. As such, degree–seeking Gateway and transfer students have an opportunity to be awarded academic credit for post–secondary knowledge gained prior to matriculating at Chatham University. Learning acquired from employment, job training, independent study, open courseware, volunteer and civic duties, military service and travel are just some examples to contemplate when considering prior learning credit. Accordingly, students can potentially earn a maximum of 60 credits towards their educational goals and the explicit requirements of their program by developing a prior learning portfolio.
What is a portfolio?
Chatham University’s Portfolio Development program is meant to assist Gateway and transfer students in identifying areas of college–level learning by utilizing course–specific learning outcomes that correspond to targeted courses offered at Chatham University. Prior learning portfolios consist of written narratives along with supporting documentation that demonstrate a student’s proficiency in the learning outcomes of the targeted Chatham courses.
Who is eligible for the portfolio development program?
Students must be registered as a Gateway or transfer student and have the permission of the Office of PLA and their department chair.
How do I begin the portfolio process?
You must first contact the Office of Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) and your academic advisor. Together, you will clarify your (major/minor) requirements and identify courses from Chatham University’s catalogue that are viable alternatives for your portfolio. Students applying for portfolio assessment are guided through each and every step of the portfolio development process.
How many credits can be earned through portfolio development?
Degree–seeking Gateway and transfer students may earn a maximum of 60 prior learning credits which can include credits awarded through the portfolio development program. No more than 50% of portfolio and transfer credits can be applied towards the major or minor. The remaining 50% must be completed at Chatham.
What courses are eligible for inclusion in my portfolio?
This answer varies based on your major/minor requirements, credits transferred from other institutions and other PLA credits (e.g. CLEP exams, Challenge exams) that you have applied towards your requirements. PLA credit may not be granted for PED courses (Physical Education) or SDE (Student Development) courses.
How long do I have to complete my portfolio?
PLA is offered each spring and fall semester and is structured so that your portfolio can be completed by the end of the term. However, if you are applying for 9 credits or more through the portfolio development process, you may have an additional 45 days for the completion and submission of your portfolio after the end of the course. Once the portfolio narratives are complete, faculty members in the appropriate disciplines evaluate it and determine the number of credits to be awarded to the student.
Is there an option of submitting a second portfolio if I change my major?
If students change their major, they may submit additional portfolio narratives per the new major. The Office of Prior Learning Assessment will consult with the student’s academic advisors to clarify the new requirements and to identify courses from Chatham University’s catalogue that are viable alternatives for their portfolio narratives.
How will my portfolio be evaluated?
Chatham University faculty members will evaluate your portfolio on your ability to articulate your learning as it relates to the specific outcomes of each targeted course. Portfolio credits are awarded only to satisfy existing course outcomes, and all outcomes within a course must be satisfied to earn credit for the course. No partial credit for a course will be awarded. As per Chatham University policy, there is no guarantee that credits assessed will result in credits awarded.
When will I receive my results?
Your portfolio will be evaluated by faculty from the appropriate departments for each course. Evaluations are typically performed within 30 days of your portfolio submission.
Do I have any recourse if I do not agree with the evaluator’s results?
If you do not agree with the results of an assessment, you should request a meeting with the Director of PLA and your advisor to review the evaluator’s comments. You may request a review by the appropriate undergraduate Dean; however, the student may not submit additional materials at the time of the second review.
How will I receive my assessment results?
You will receive notification from the Office of Prior Learning Assessment along with a summary sheet listing the credits awarded for each course with the evaluator’s comments.
How will I be billed for my portfolio credits?
Fees for credits earned through PLA are charged at a significantly reduced rate relative to Chatham University’s undergraduate tuition rate. When you submit your portfolio for review, billing to your student account will be initiated at the rate of $252 per credit assessed. The fee per credit assessed is not eligible for federal or state financial aid; however, as a Gateway student, a no interest, no application fee payment plan is available.

The awarding of credit for prior learning occurs upon review of a successful portfolio or other appropriate means and does not coincide with the scheduled offering of a course. Students are billed at the time credit is awarded.

PLEASE NOTE: Once undergraduate students have been accepted into an Integrated Degree Program (IDP), several factors will determine the timing of their change in status from undergraduates to graduates. A shift in status from undergraduate to graduate student may impact a student’s eligibility for financial aid. Students should carefully review IDP policies and consult with a financial aid counselor prior to entering the Integrated Degree Program in order to determine the impact that a change in status will have on one's financial aid.

How much savings will I incur?
Based on the number of credits that you attempt, your savings could be as much as $10,751 for a 30-credit portfolio.

Please contact the Director of Academic Support and Prior Learning Assessment with any additional questions or to explore your eligibility for portfolio development as a means of earning credit:

Deborah Prise
Director of Academic Support and Prior Learning Assessment
Chatham University
Coolidge Hall- Room 235A