Montana State University recognizes students' prior learning by creating and documenting pathways for students to receive credit for learning that was completed prior to enrollment.  From transfer credit to advanced placement and credit by examination, MSU develops standard methodologies to ensure consistency as we recognize students for their prior learning.  You can learn more from the following resources: 


Montana State University awards credit toward graduation for successful performance in certain Subject Examinations of the College Level Examination Program conducted by the College Entrance Examination Board. Students may arrange to take these examinations on campus or at designated centers throughout the country. Passing grades are determined by Montana State University. These students receive credit and a P grade on the transcript for scores above the passing level; scores below the passing level are not entered on the transcript. CLEP examinations may not be used to replace a grade of a course previously taken. University Core requirements cannot be satisfied by the CLEP procedures. In general, a department will not give a challenge examination if a CLEP examination is available for the same course.

Courses that students can receive credit for through the CLEP program are listed in the MSU Catalog.

For more information about the CLEP program, please contact the MSU Testing Center at 994-6984, or email [email protected].

Challenge provides the opportunity to earn college credits and grade points without formal course enrollment. A student who has completed the work of a college course on his or her own initiatives and time, may, with the approval of the student’s academic advisor, the instructor, the department heads, and the college deans, take a comprehensive examination in the subject matter of the course. Performance in the examination will become the basis for a grade in the course, and the results will be recorded on the student’s permanent academic record at the end of the term which the challenge exam is taken. Official permission forms should be secured in advance from the Registrar’s Office. Students must be registered at MSU when they take the challenge examination, and they must have passed ten credits of regular course work at Montana State University before the challenge grade will be recorded on their permanent records.

The challenge examination for credit in a course which is a prerequisite to a second course must be taken before enrollment in the second course. Students who have enrolled in a regular or an extension course and received a grade (including that of W) or have taken a regular or an extension course for zero credit may not challenge that course. Challenges are not permitted in any 290, 291, 292, 490, 491, 492 and 498 courses.

A fee of $30 per credit is assessed and must be paid prior to taking the challenged exam.

Each department has the authority to approve or deny a request to challenge any specific course.  Please contact the department offering the course you wish to challenge to determine if a challenge test if available.

Students who take AP courses during high school and pass the respective AP exam with a score of 3 or higher may send these scores to the Office of Admissions to have them applied toward fulfilling some CORE and/or major requirements. To determine what AP courses Montana State University will accept for degree credit, please see the AP course equivalency guide

Montana State University also participates in the Montana University System’s Prior Learning Assessment Task Force and intends to follow those recommendations.  For further information, please see the Montana Board of Regents PLA Policy and Procedures Manual.  Montana State University is currently reviewing its practices and developing new methodologies to meet the Board of Regents Recommendations.