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Student Directed Learning Office

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Student-Directed Learning (SDL) is an umbrella term that covers a number of ways to earn credit in a topic of your choice or for what you already know.

If you are interested in incorporating one of these options into your degree program, consult with your advisor or the SDL office. It is important to make sure that you choose options that will work for your program.

Independent study/exam programs 

Well known national testing programs whose results are accepted for transfer credit at Metropolitan State include:

These programs also offer test prep materials that you can review before you decide to take an exam.  

Alternative credit providers

These options provide self-paced courses that are accepted as transfer credit:

Theory seminars

Sometimes, students have some practical experience in a subject, but haven’t learned the theoretical aspects. Theory seminars were developed to fill in those gaps. Theory seminars are described at

Department specific options

Some departments have developed student-directed learning options specific to their areas. Check with the SDL office for specific information.

Student-designed independent study and prior learning assessment

  • Are you interested in a subject that isn’t taught at Metro State?
  • Do you have prior learning from work, volunteering, or other experience?
  • Do you want to earn credit for your expertise or prior learning?

Metro has options for you.
Student-Directed Independent Study—Think of this like proposing a course that only you will take. You propose a course title, description, learning outcomes, and activities—readings, research, projects. Then, get matched with a faculty member. Once you and the faculty member agree, you get registered and actually do the learning activities you proposed. The faculty member will grade it just like a regular course. 
The Student-Directed Independent Study form is available in two formats:

Prior Learning Assessment—PLA is for students who already have college level learning that hasn’t been assessed for credit. You can match an existing course or draft a proposal that matches your specific expertise. In either case, you and a faculty member will decide how to demonstrate that you have met the learning outcomes.
The Prior Learning Assessment form is available in two formats:

For both PLA and SDIS, keep the following in mind:


SDL has lots of options and it can be a challenge to navigate. The SDL office can help!  

  • Advising Sessions: The SDL director is available to meet with you. Schedule an appointment at
  • SDL Labs: Each semester, the SDL office holds a few general information sessions that provide an overview of SDL:
  • Student-Directed Learning (SDL) Resource site in D2L. This site provides information about SDL processes. Log into D2L and go to Discover. Search for “Student-Directed Learning.”
  • METR 100 Getting Credit for What You Know: This one-credit course helps students examine the various SDL options.
  • Email: Contact with questions.