Open Course Option FAQs

This section is designed to help answer some of the questions you may have about the Open Course Option.

Can I earn a degree for free using the Open Course option?

No. To earn a degree from Thomas Edison State College, you must be an enrolled student. Becoming an enrolled student requires you to select an annual tuition plan. While there are no costs for taking the Saylor courses associated with the Open Course option at Thomas Edison State College, students must also register for and successfully complete Thomas Edison State College (TECEP®) exams and portfolio assessments to earn credit for the course requirements. In addition to the cost of TECEP® exams and portfolio assessments, there are also costs associated with the application and enrollment process and tuition costs for the PLA-100 and PLA-200 courses.

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How much will it cost to complete an Associate in Science in Business Administration Degree using the Open Course option?

The cost of earning the Associate in Science in Business Administration at Thomas Edison State College through the Open Course option varies depending on several factors, which include whether you are a New Jersey resident who qualifies for in-state tuition, how many credits you are able to transfer to your degree program, how many credits you have to complete to earn the degree, which assessments you use to earn credit and how long it takes you to complete your degree. The chart below lists a summary of the tuition and fees associated with the Open Course option.

Tuition and Fees In-State Out-of-State
Application Fee $75.00 $75.00
Annual Enrollment Tuition $1,691.00 $3,154.00
Technological Services Fee $121.00 $121.00
TECEP® Exams (cost for single exam) $105.00 $111.00
CLEP® Exams (estimated cost for single exam) $80.00 $80.00
NCCRS Exam* (estimated cost for single exam) $25.00 $25.00
Course Tuition for PLA-100 & PLA-200 $525.00 $708.00
Course Registration Fee for PLA-100 & PLA-200 $58.00 $58.00

* The $25 fee for NCCRS exams comes from using the online proctoring service, Proctor U. If you use your own qualified proctor, this fee is waived.

The costs associated with earning credit via Portfolio Assessment are structured around how many credits a student earns after they complete the PLA-100 and PLA 200 courses. The first 12 credits a student attempts through portfolio assessment costs $363. After the first 12 credits earned via portfolio assessments, students pay $206 for every additional six credits. These prices are consistent for students using in-state and out-of-state tuition rates.

Most students who benefit from in-state tuition rates who complete the Associate in Science in Business Administration through the Open Course option in one year using credit-by-exam options when possible should be able to complete the program for about $4,000, excluding optional course materials some students may want to purchase. Most credit-by-exam options, including those associated with the Open Course option, do not require students to purchase course materials.

Most students using out-of-state tuition rates who benefit from in-state tuition who complete the Associate in Science in Business Administration through the Open Course option in one year using credit-by-exam options when possible should be able to complete the program for about $5,500, excluding optional course materials some students may want to purchase. Most credit-by-exam options, including those associated with the Open Course option, do not require students to purchase course materials.

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What if I know some of what's in this course? Do I still need to take it?

No. Students are free to use the Saylor courses as much or as little as they want. Each Saylor course has been reviewed by Thomas Edison State College mentors who are subject matter experts on the topic covered by the course and who have determined that students who successfully complete the Saylor courses used in the Open Course option have a reasonable chance of completing the associated Thomas Edison State College assessments. If a student has some form of prior learning, such as work experience, professional training, independent study, etc., they may skip sections in the Saylor courses that they feel they already know, or simply use the Saylor course as a refresher. Students may also take the Thomas Edison State College assessment (TECEP or portfolio) without taking the Saylor in-course assessment if they feel prepared for it, but should note that the assessments are pass/fail with no refunds.

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What is Prior Learning Assessment?

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a flexible, efficient way of earning college credits for college-level knowledge you have acquired outside a traditional classroom. If you are like most adult students, you are likely to have learned something outside of college, whether it was through work, professional or military training, volunteering, hobbies or other types of experiences, and this expertise may be related to your degree program. Through prior learning assessment, Thomas Edison State College is able to determine if you possess college-level knowledge that is equivalent to what you would have learned in a college-level course and whether that knowledge can be applied to your degree program. The main ways we assess prior knowledge is through credit-by-exam programs, such as TECEP®, or portfolio assessment.

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What is a TECEP®?

The Thomas Edison State College Examination Program (TECEP®) is the College's credit-by-exam program and was created to allow students who have acquired knowledge and skills through prior learning to earn credit for what they already know. These proctored tests are generally two-to-three hours long and typically consist of essays or multiple choice questions, depending on the topic. Like other credit-by-exam programs, TECEP® exams are pass/fail.

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What is Portfolio Assessment?

Portfolio Assessment is a method of documenting your prior learning that involves working directly with a Thomas Edison State College mentor who is a subject matter expert in the course you are challenging. Generally, there are two components in developing a portfolio: a learning narrative and supporting evidence. The learning narrative is your opportunity to relate what you learned, how you learned it, and why you learned it. The learning narrative describes how your knowledge meets the particular learning objectives for the course you are challenging. The evidence section supports your claims of possessing the college-level knowledge and includes the proof that substantiates your narrative. Evidence can include professional licensures or certifications, test results, samples of work, letters of reference and other concrete examples that document that you possess the college-level knowledge required for the course.

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What is the Saylor Foundation?

The Saylor Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to bringing down the cost of education. Over the past four years, they have built over 300 college-level courses in 13 areas of study, as well as professional development and K-12 courses. Their courses and materials are based on their website, Saylor.org

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What is the National College Credit Review Service (NCCRS)?

The National College Credit Review Service evaluates educational programs and training offered outside the traditional college classroom setting and recommends those programs to be accepted as college credit equivalencies. To evaluate a program, the NCCRS coordinate teams of college faculty evaluators and subject matter experts to conduct extensive reviews of education and training programs offered by corporations, unions, religious organizations and proprietary schools. Courses and programs recommended for credit by NCCRS are accepted by Thomas Edison State College.

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What is the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP®)?

CLEP® (College Level Examination Program) exams test the mastery of college-level material that you may have acquired through any number of ways, such as college-level course instruction, independent study, work experience or other programs of study that you have pursued. CLEP® exams are free-standing exams that any individual can pay to take in order to prove that he or she has mastered a given subject area at the college level. CLEP® exams are designed and offered by The College Board, which administers the Advanced Placement (AP) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) exam programs. The CLEP is one of several credit-by-exam programs students use to earn credit at Thomas Edison State College.

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What is a Saylor course like? How is it different from a Thomas Edison State College course?

Each open course offered by the Saylor Foundation has been designed by a trained instructional designer and a subject matter expert. On the surface, these courses resemble syllabi. They contain learning outcomes, time advisories and break the course down into individual units. Within these units, students will find educational materials such as readings, videos, activities and assessments.

Additionally, students have access to an e-portfolio account and student discussion boards once they register at Saylor.org. The first of these tools will help students track their progress throughout this program, and the second will give them access to the Saylor learning community, where they can find additional support.

Saylor courses are different from Thomas Edison State College courses in two important ways. First, these courses are entirely self-directed, self-paced and have no mentor support. Students are free to take as little or as long as they want to work through a particular unit or course. Second, the assessment structure is different. Thomas Edison State College courses generally have discussion board posts, assignments and assessments all throughout the course. While some Saylor courses also have assessments throughout, these assessments do not count towards a student's grade. The final assessment (TECEP®, Portfolio, CLEP®, etc.) is how a student is able to earn credit that can be applied to their degree program at Thomas Edison State College.

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What is a Saylor NCCRS course and how is it different than a regular Saylor Course?

Saylor NCCRS courses have an NCCRS exam option included in the courses, which provide students the opportunity to earn college credit for the course. There is a nominal proctor fee for taking the course.

Nine of Saylor's courses currently feature the NCCRS exam option. Seven of those courses are associated with Thomas Edison State College's Open Course option, enabling students who successfully pass the exam to earn credit to Thomas Edison State College in a similar manner that students do with CLEP exams. These courses include: MA001: Beginning Algebra; BUS203: Principles of Marketing; BUS204: Business Statistics; BUS205: Business Law and Ethics; BUS208: Principles of Management; and BUS210: Corporate Communications. All other Saylor course associated with the Open Course option must be assessed through one of the programs at Thomas Edison State College.

These courses have been reviewed by the National College Credit Review Service and approved for college credit. Once a student completes one of these courses, they can arrange through Saylor to schedule an online proctored exam. If a student passes that exam, they can transfer this credit to Thomas Edison State College and have it applied to their degree.

To see additional Saylor courses that include an NCCRS exam option, visit www.saylor.org/student-credit-pathways/nccrs/

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Do I need approval before I take any Saylor courses?

No. However, it is strongly suggested that students speak with an academic advisor at Thomas Edison State College to confirm whether a Saylor course and its corresponding assessment is appropriate for your degree, especially if it not associated with the Open Course option. Applicants at Thomas Edison State College who have not yet enrolled should contact the Learner Support Center at [email protected] or call (888) 442-8372, weekdays from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (ET).

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If I want to major in something other than business administration, can I still take Saylor Foundation Courses and then take the corresponding TECEP®, CLEP® or Portfolio Assessment?

Yes. The Open Course option enables students to earn credit that can be applied to most undergraduate degree programs at Thomas Edison State College. It is strongly suggested that students speak with an academic advisor at Thomas Edison State College to confirm how courses and assessments included with the Open Course option fit into their degree program. Applicants at Thomas Edison State College who have not yet enrolled should contact the Learner Support Center at [email protected] or call (888) 442-8372, weekdays from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (ET).

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Who do I go to if I have additional questions?

Enrolled students and applicants at Thomas Edison State College should contact the Learner Support Center at [email protected] or call (888) 442-8372, weekdays from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (ET). Students and applicants have access the full support of our advising and student services teams, who are able to address any concerns you may have as you go through this program. Additional support is available at Saylor.org. For questions about Saylor courses or the Saylor e-portfolio system, contact Devon Ritter at [email protected], Scott Movens at [email protected] or the student forums at Saylor.org.

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