Earning College Credit

Students can earn college credit for completing courses from regionally accredited institutions, CLEP exams, DANTES (DSST), and military coursework as recommended by the American Council on Education. Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Diploma, and dual college credit may have been completed during high school. Official transcripts and score reports sent directly from the institution or organization are required for earned transfer credits to be applied on the student record. 

Bellarmine University awards transfer credit for grades “D” or higher in coursework that is considered college-level and is from regionally accredited institutions when similar in scope, content, and standards to courses offered at Bellarmine. Remedial, technical, vocational, internship, externship, and courses not consistent with the liberal arts tradition are not transferable. Military coursework is evaluated using the same considerations as transfer coursework. 

Transfer of credit evaluations are made on a course-by-course basis by the Registrar’s Office in consultation with appropriate academic department chairs when necessary. The university institution requirements of the university must be satisfied regardless of the number of credits transferred. 

Once a student has matriculated at Bellarmine, he or she may not take a course at another institution and transfer it back to repeat a course previously taken at Bellarmine (transfer credits do not include GPA, therefore the original grade earned cannot be replaced).

Visit our Transfer of Credit Policy page to learn more.

Transfer Credit Equivalency Guides

The report below is a list of default transfer equivalencies between courses from external institutions and the Bellarmine University course catalog. Not all external courses will appear in our database. This does not mean they are not transferable. Bellarmine courses shown as “GEXX GENED” fulfill general education requirements. Courses that do not have a Bellarmine equivalent may transfer in as a general elective and will appear as “GEN ELEC”. **If you are a Transfer student, meaning you have attended a college or university after graduating from high school, some courses that appear as elective credit could meet the General Education Requirements.

To view a full list of General Education Requirements and evaluation guidelines for transfer students, visit the Transfer Student Policies section of the Course Catalog.

Credit Options

A maximum of 60 semester credits may be gained through the external and internal credit options described below.


A maximum of 36 credit hours may be earned through external examinations.

A maximum of 30 semester credits for prior learning may be gained through the internal credit options

Credit for Demonstrated Competency (Challenge Exam):
Enrolled Bellarmine students may petition the department chair to take a comprehensive examination on the material covered in any credit course offered by that department. A grade for this exam is strictly on a Pass/Fail basis. A non-refundable $50 fee is charged at the point of application. A fee, equal to one credit hour tuition, is charged for each course after the exam has been evaluated. Download the Challenge Exam Form

Credit for Prior Learning (Portfolio): Students may apply for credit for prior learning through the portfolio process when their professional background or life experience closely parallels the learning outcomes of a Bellarmine course. Students should refer to the Prior Learning Portfolio Handbook to determine if they are eligible and for details regarding the steps involved.

A student can use a single portfolio to apply for credit for multiple courses. The Prior Learning Portfolio Review Committee, made up of faculty from programs across campus, determines whether credit is awarded for portfolio submissions. Portfolios will not be accepted after the mid-point of the semester prior to graduation, to confirm that degree requirements are being met.

  • A student must be admitted to Bellarmine in order to be awarded credit for prior learning through the university.
  • Portfolios are submitted through Moodle. See the Prior Learning Portfolio Handbook for details.
  • Bellarmine awards course equivalency credit for portfolios. Portfolios must address the learning outcomes of one or more specific courses offered at Bellarmine.
  • If a program-level accrediting agency imposes limitations on, or standards for, credit for prior learning, those restrictions or guidelines will be honored for that program.
  • Students may apply for portfolio credit for a specific course only one time, regardless of whether credit is awarded or denied.
  • Students cannot receive portfolio credit for courses or experiences they have previously received academic credit for (duplication of credit).
  • A student may not audit, withdraw from, or fail a course at Bellarmine and later receive credit for the same course through a prior learning portfolio.
  • Assessment is based on the learning identified and documented in the portfolio, not the intrinsic value of professional, military, or other life experiences.
  • Credit for portfolio submissions is not guaranteed. Only the Prior Learning Portfolio Review Committee can determine if and how many credits are awarded.
  • Credit for prior learning is assigned as a “P” (passing) grade.
  • Credits earned through prior learning portfolios do not meet the residency requirement for graduation.
  • Credit for portfolios may or may not transfer to another university, depending on the policies of the transfer institution.

Following are the guidelines Bellarmine follows when assessing prior learning portfolios.

  1. Learning needs to be differentiated from experience. Credit is awarded for knowledge acquired during life or work experience and not for the experience itself.
  2. Learning should be college-level. To demonstrate that learning is college-level, students should:
        a. relate learning to a specific course or courses taught at Bellarmine;
        b. compare learning with professionals who have completed college-level study;
        c. relate learning to a personal goal that requires college-level learning; and/or
        d. Identify learning as beyond high school level and as expected for professional competency.
  3. Learning should be current, especially in those instances in which a student is applying for graduate credit.
  4. Learning must be demonstrated to and evaluated by credentialled full-time Bellarmine faculty members.
  5. Learning should demonstrate an understanding of both the theoretical and practical aspects of the knowledge possessed.
  6. Learning should demonstrate general applicability outside the specific situation in which it was acquired.
  7. Learning should be related to the student’s goals and proposed degree program.


Undergraduate students can earn up to 30 credits through the portfolio process but cannot exceed a 60-credit limit for all forms of prior learning evidence, including standardized exams, challenge exams, and portfolios.

A non-refundable portfolio review fee of $150.00 is charged when submitting a portfolio for assessment. An additional fee of $850.00 is charged after a portfolio has been evaluated, if credit is awarded. This fee covers all credit earned through the portfolio, including credit for multiple classes if applicable.

Adult students in the Degree Completion program are required to enroll in BU-310 and BU-311 to apply for prior learning portfolio credit. There is a $150 course fee for BU-311, which covers the portfolio assessment fee. Students receive credit for successfully completing BU-310 and BU-311, regardless of whether their portfolio is submitted for assessment.

Students are permitted to submit up to three portfolios while at Bellarmine, each seeking credit for one or more courses. A separate $150 assessment fee will be charged for each portfolio submission. The initial $850 fee for credit awarded will cover all credit an undergraduate student receives through the portfolio process, whether through a single or multiple submission/s.


Graduate students can earn up to 6 hours of credit through prior learning assessments, including challenge exams and prior learning portfolios.

A non-refundable portfolio review fee of $150.00 is charged at the point of portfolio application. Graduate credit for each portfolio will be charged at a rate equal to one credit hour of tuition for each course equivalent awarded as credit, in addition to the assessment fee.

For more information about the portfolio option, contact Laura Hartford (lhartford@bellarmine.edu).