Energy and Sustainability Policy
Program Office

Credit by Portfolio Assessment

Credit by Portfolio Assessment

The Energy and Sustainability Policy program recognizes and appreciates the rich background many of our students bring to the program. We are pleased to honor this hard work with the Credit by Portfolio Assessment alternative for earning course credits.

Credit by Portfolio Assessment is a process that offers students the opportunity to earn course credits based on prior learning in non-collegiate settings, often on-the-job work experience.

While learning that occurs in the classroom often includes abstract thought and theory, learning gained outside the classroom is more often experiential. A challenge to students requesting portfolio assessment is to provide documentation that demonstrates an appropriate balance between theoretical learning and practical application.

In the sections below, we outline the procedures for Credit by Portfolio Assessment in the Energy and Sustainability Policy program and details to help you prepare a successful portfolio. Please contact your Academic Adviser with any questions.

Eligible Courses

Credit by Portfolio Assessment enables students to prove learning equivalent to a specific Penn State course. In support of our adult learners who bring relevant prior learning experience to our program, the Energy and Sustainability Policy program is pleased to offer Credit by Portfolio Assessment for the following ESP required courses:

EGEE 299 (IL) Foreign Studies (3 Credits) Courses offered in foreign countries by individual or group instruction. Foreign Studies encourages students to participate in international educational experiences and help them to become World Class citizens.

EGEE 495 Internship (3 Credits) An internship is career-related professional work experience that enhances your education by giving you experience applying your knowledge and skills in the work-place. The advantages of taking an internship are endless. Internships serve as stepping stones for your future. Internships can be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid, credit-earning or noncredit-earning.

EGEE 102 (GN) Energy Conservation for Environmental Protection (3 Credits) Exposure to energy efficiency in day-to-day life to save money and energy, and thereby protect the environment.

GEOG 469 Energy Industry Applications of GIS (3 Credits) Roles of geographic information systems in energy siting decisions focusing on electric energy transmission networks.

Students may also petition for Credit through Portfolio Assessment for other courses. Not all academic units will consider these requests. Students interested in determining whether to pursue credit by portfolio assessment opportunities should contact their Adviser and the academic department responsible for the relevant course.

Eligibility and Restrictions

  • You must be a student in the Energy and Sustainability Policy program and have completed at least 3 credits at Penn State.
  • Portfolios are not accepted during the semester of intended graduation.
  • Credit cannot be earned in this manner if the student has previously received credit for an equivalent course. Nor can the student receive credit for an equivalent course after she or he has earned credit through portfolio assessment.
  • Grades are not recorded when credits are earned by portfolio assessment; the student's grade-point average is not affected. Credit earned by portfolio is designated on the transcript in the same manner as transfer credit.
  • In the Energy and Sustainability Policy program, Credit for Portfolio Assessment is given for full course credit (e.g. 3 credits); no partial credit.


  1. Complete an ESP Initial Application for Portfolio Assessment form. (If you have not previously signed a document digitally, see these easy instructions.) Email, with all required attachments (see form), to your Academic Adviser.
  2. Many employers have strict policies that regulate the dissemination of company information. An employer may require you to sign a Disclosure Agreement that asks you not to divulge any sensitive information to outside sources. The employer may also ask that the person conducting your Portfolio Assessment sign this agreement. If your employer would like a Disclosure Agreement signed and returned prior to your submission of the portfolio, please send your employer's disclosure agreement along with your ESP Initial Application for Portfolio Assessment form and include a return address indicating where the signed agreement should be sent. Knowledge of and compliance with confidentiality requirements are the student's responsibility.
  3. You may be contacted for additional information or an interview. You will be notified of approval status within 3 weeks. Approval indicates that your intended documentation appears to justify the development of a portfolio; it does not guarantee that credit will be awarded.
  4. Submit completed Portfolio (see details below) within 10 weeks of receiving Approval but not later than the 5th week of the semester prior to the semester of intended graduation. Email completed portfolio, or link to e-Portfolio, to Academic Adviser.
  5. Fill out the student section of the< Credit by Portfolio Assessment Application form and digitally sign it. Then e-mail form to your Academic Adviser.
  6. Make a check for $390 payable to “Penn State.” In the memo line, include the word "Portfolio:", followed by your nine-digit student ID number. (This payment is non-refundable.) Mail check to:

    John A. Dutton e-Education Institute
    ATTN: Susan Spaugh
    2217 Earth & Engineering Sciences Building (mailing address)
    University Park, PA 16802-6813

  7. If minor changes need to be made to the portfolio, you will be notified and asked to make minor modifications and resubmit the portfolio. This will only happen once per portfolio.
  8. You will be notified of approval or lack thereof before the start of the next semester to allow for schedule changes, if necessary.

Portfolio Contents

Your portfolio will be submitted electronically, preferably in the form of an ePortfolio. For more information on the Penn State ePortfolio initiative, see ePortfolios at Penn State ( If an ePortfolio presentation is not suitable for your portfolio, due to confidentiality issues or the contents of your portfolio, your portfolio may be submitted as a pdf as a single file. In all cases, the successful Portfolio will include the following:

  • Title Page
  • PSU Cover Sheet/Verification Form
  • Credit by Portfolio Assessment Application Form (Student Section completed)
  • Copy of Disclosure Agreement(s), if required
  • Navigation/Table of Contents
  • Autobiography/Educational Goals Statement (1-2 pages)—a chronology of student’s life experiences relevant to the portfolio submission.
  • Detailed Description of the Experience(s)—To the student’s best ability, provide the following details for each experience cited: organization name and location, dates, references (name and contact info) and student’s role (your tasks and responsibilities). A small synopsis (1 paragraph) for each entity, is expected. You can include information such as: products/services offered, markets served, locations, size of company (employees and revenue), company history. Relevant experiences include full- or part-time jobs, as well as training programs or in-service courses, volunteer work, community activities, independent study, organizational memberships and certifications (e.g., LEED, IREC/NABCEP, BPI, RESNET).
  • Description of the Learning (15 – 20 pages) Through observation and reflection, demonstrate conceptual and theoretical learning derived from the experiences listed above as related to the ESP program's 5 competencies. Clearly connect learning with cited experiences and specific work samples (in previous sections).
  • Samples of Work—artifacts demonstrating learning and accomplishments. Provide artifacts, from the work experiences listed above, that demonstrate learning and accomplishments in the 5 competency areas. Fully annotate each artifact with date, description, purpose, audience and student’s role in creating or using the artifact. Examples of artifacts include: publications, presentations, reports, websites, project summaries, news reports, photos, forms and procedures, licenses, certificates, evaluations or reviews, letters of reference or recommendation, professional correspondence.
  • Annotated bibliography of resources (texts, references, documents, Web sites, software) used during the learning experience.