Portfolio Review Assessment

A page within Student Affairs Administration, Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.)

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  • Friday, November 3 at 12:00 pm (CST)
  • Wednesday, November 29 at 7:00 pm (CST)
  • Monday, December 11 at 7:30 pm (CST)

New in Fall 2022!


Many students come to our program with a great deal of prior professional experience. Students who have two years of full-time experience in student affairs / higher education, working in two distinctly different areas, can request to have their work evaluated.  Scroll to the bottom of this page for the Portfolio Review Assessment Form, and keep reading for more details.

Prior to Fall 2022, we allowed students with this breadth and depth of experience to apply for a practicum substitution – and if approved, they could complete an additional 720 topics course instead of a 775 practicum credit to fulfill the elective requirement. That's still available.

But new this year, we are introducing an opportunity for those students to instead earn credit through a Portfolio Review Assessment (PRA). The new PRA process follows the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) standards for assessing prior learning (https://www.cael.org/ten-standards-for-assessing-learning), the first and most important of which is “Credit or competencies are awarded only for evidence of learning, not for experience or time spent.”

What do we mean by "distinctly different" areas? See this CAS site for a list of nearly 50 recognized distinct functional areas under the higher education / student affairs umbrella. For instance, a person may have started their career in higher education working in admissions, and then later moved into a job in academic advising. Even if both roles were at the same college/university, they likely learned a lot about how the professional competencies are demonstrated differently in each functional area. 

However, if a person began their career in one area at one campus and then moved to a similar role at another campus of the same institutional type, that probably would not qualify as "distinctly" different. For instance, a hall director at UW La Crosse making a lateral move to a hall director role at UW Eau Claire would likely find the operations and campus are somewhat different, but aren't enough to be considered "distinctly" different.

Thus, students who are interested in having their work evaluated should first discuss their eligibility with their faculty advisor (during the academic year) or the M.S.Ed. Graduate Program Director (in the summer, when faculty advisors are not on contract), who can help determine if the student meets the “two years of full-time experience in two distinctly different areas” requirement.

Keep in mind - if you pursue this, and it reduces your fall enrollment, you may experience other financial consequences. For instance, some students need to enroll in 6 or more credits to defer undergraduate loan repayments, or others may need to enroll in 9 or more credits to maintain a student visa or veteran's benefits. Even if they could pursue credit for prior learning, they may still decide to complete a new practicum, as the $427 in savings if you are awarded credit for prior learning may not be enough to make up for any other financial consequences that may occur if one needs to be enrolled in 6 or 9 credits.

Please consult with Financial Aid if you have any concerns about what, if any, issues you might encounter if you do not enroll in 775 but instead seek credit for prior learning through this Portfolio Review Assessment.


The student can request an evaluation of their prior learning via Portfolio Review Assessment following the process outlined on the form linked at the bottom of this page. 

The form is due by the 10th day of classes each fall, spring, or summer term, and the student then has until the midterm date of each term to submit their ePortfolio link. A non-refundable $150 Portfolio Assessment Review fee will be charged to their account, and that fee covers the cost of the assessment, not the credit that may be earned.

The ePortfolio needs to include:

  1. an updated resume detailing past professional experiences, clearly identifying that the student has two years of full-time experience in higher education / student affairs in two distinctly different areas),
  2. two artifacts, representing two or more distinctly different areas, demonstrating evidence of their learning in any of the ten ACPA/NASPA professional competency areas, (two artifacts are in addition to any you've already added as part of comprehensive reflections in other classes), and
  3. a 3-5 page essay reflecting on how past professional experiences developed a breadth and depth of experience in higher education, sharing key lessons learned from working in two distinctly different areas, and commenting on how the artifacts shared in their ePortfolio are evidence of their learning...not just time spent in distinctly different areas.

Materials will be assessed using this rubric.

If your portfolio and materials DO meet expectations, the department will notify Records & Registration to post one credit of SAA 775 - Practicum to your academic record. It should appear on your transcript similar to a transfer credit.

If your portfolio does not meet the standards needed for credit to be awarded, you will be given one opportunity to revise the portfolio and resubmit it within two weeks.  There will be no additional fee to resubmit the portfolio at that time.

If the portfolio does not meet the criteria for awarding credit even after the revision, you will be notified that you need to register for the 775 practicum credit in a future term to fulfill degree requirements. The fee paid to review the portfolio is non-refundable if the portfolio does not meet the criteria. The fee is also non-refundable if a student fails to submit their work by the midterm deadline.

Portfolio Appeals Process

Students have the opportunity to appeal – both the outcome and the non-refundable charge. If a student disagrees with the outcome (even after resubmitting, they believe the assessment was arbitrary or capricious), or wish to request an exception to the non-refundable fee (for instance, they missed the midterm deadline to submit their ePortfolio because of an unexpected emergency), please follow these steps to appeal.

  1. Submit a written request for additional review to the SAA Department Chair within 30 days of receiving the decision. This request must include the basis for why you disagree and include relevant evidence.
  2. The Chair or designee will review your statement and may request to meet with you to gain further information.
  3. The Chair will make a final decision after full consideration of the information or may direct the case to the SAA Appeals Committee. Appeals made by the mid-term of any term will be heard by the end of that term.
  4. The Chair will communicate the final decision regarding the request to the student and the instructor (within 30 days of receiving appeal if decision made by Chair, by the end of the term if appeal directed to committee).
  5. The decision of the Chair or Appeals Committee is final. No additional review will be allowed for the reviewed portfolio.
  • SAA Portfolio Review Assessment Form - due the 10th day of any fall, spring, or summer term
  • Students - you only need to enter your name and email on the form. The SAA M.S.Ed. Graduate Program Director will add the names and emails of your faculty advisor and the SAA Evaluator.
  • Before you submit the form, please consult with Financial Aid about whether  pursuing this credit for prior learning may have any unanticipated consequences (e.g., if you need to be enrolled in 6 credits to have undergraduate loan repayments deferred, and dropping 775 to pursue this option would bring you down to 5 credits for a term).