FAQ - open course option for ASBA

These frequently asked questions (FAQ) are for our degree pathway offered in partnership with Thomas Edison State University: the Open Course Option for ASBA.

This degree pathway uses open online courses from Saylor Academy to help students earn their Associate in Science in Business Administration for as little as $3,000.

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

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

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

What is Prior Learning Assessment?

What is a TECEP®?

What is Portfolio Assessment?

What is the Saylor Direct Credit Program?

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

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

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

Who do I go to if I have additional questions?


Can I earn a degree for free from Thomas Edison using the Open Course option? TOP

No. To earn a degree from Thomas Edison State University, 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 University, students must also register for and successfully complete Thomas Edison State University (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 Thomas Edison State University courses.

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

The cost of earning the Associate in Science in Business Administration at Thomas Edison State University 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. However, the lowest price available is $2,845 for New Jersey residents and $3,130 for out-of-state students. This price is based on Thomas Edison's Per Credit Tuition Plan, and assumes that students choose the Saylor Direct, TECEP, or CLEP options when possible. 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
TECEP Exams $111 $111
CLEP Exams $80 + fees $80 + fees
Saylor Direct Credit Exam* $25 $25
TESU Course Registration Fee $61 $61
TESU 3 Credit Course Tuition $1,275 $1,560
Application Fee $75 $75
Technological Services Fee $131 $131
Graduation Fee $312 $312

* The $25 fee for Saylor Direct Credit exams comes from using the online proctoring service, ProctorU. If you use your own qualified proctor, this fee is waived. Portfolio Assessment is a little different. These assessments can be grouped together in order to attain credit for more than one course, and their cost structure is built around how many credits you earn. For the first 12 credits you earn through portfolio assessment, you pay $379. For each group of 6 credits after the first 12, you pay an additional $215. These prices are consistent in and out of state.

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

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 University 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 University 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 assessment without taking the Saylor assessment if they feel prepared for it, but should note that the assessments are pass/fail with no refunds.

What is Prior Learning Assessment? TOP

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 University 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 Thomas Edison assess prior knowledge is through credit-by-exam programs, such as TECEP®, or portfolio assessment.

What is a TECEP®? TOP

The Thomas Edison State University Examination Program (TECEP®) is the University'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 many other credit-by-exam programs, TECEP® exams are pass/fail.

What is Portfolio Assessment? TOP

Portfolio Assessment is a method of documenting your prior learning that involves working directly with a Thomas Edison State University 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.

What is the Saylor Direct Credit Program? TOP

Currently, 22 Saylor Academy courses have alternate final exams that have been recommended for credit by at least one of two organizations, ACE CREDIT and NCCRS. Briefly, these courses are tuition-free, with low associated fees for exam proctoring and transcripts; fully online; completely self-paced, with exams available 24/7; guaranteed for credit at over a dozen Saylor Academy partner schools, with hundreds more that will consider the courses for credit. The National College Credit Recommendation 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 University. The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) has also evaluated and recommended college credit for Saylor Academy’s Courses. Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents and more than 200 related associations nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more than 30 years, colleges and universities have trusted ACE CREDIT to provide reliable course equivalency information to facilitate their decisions to award academic credit.

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

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 University.

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

Each open course offered by Saylor Academy has been designed by a trained course 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 their Saylor Academy learning dashboard and student discussion boards once they register for free 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 University 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 University courses generally have discussion board posts, assignments and assessments all throughout the course. While most Saylor courses also have assessments throughout, these assessments do not count towards a student's grade. The final assessment (Saylor Direct Credit Exam, 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 University.

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? TOP

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

Who do I go to if I have questions? TOP

Enrolled students and applicants at Thomas Edison State University should contact the Learner Support Center at lsc@TESC.edu 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 registration and enrollment process, contact Saylor Academy at contact@saylor.org or consult the student forums at discourse.saylor.org.

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