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PSU Challenge Program :: Students & Parents

 Welcome to Challenge, a 30-year old concurrent enrollment program between Portland State University and Portland-area high schools. If your high school offers Challenge courses, then that means PSU has identified instructors at your school with advanced degrees in their subject area, and has approved them for adjunct faculty status. These teachers partner with our faculty, to teach the same course at your high school that is offered on campus, for a fraction of the cost.

Enrolling for a Challenge course is enrolling as a part-time PSU student, and entitles you to the same benefits. Upon successful completion of your course, you will be awarded 4 college credits, your grade becomes part of your permanent college record, verified by an official PSU transcript.

Challenge is unique in that it is truly a partnership between your high school and the university, between your instructor and our faculty members, and between you and our on-campus students. Our compliments for taking the PSU Challenge.


Frequently Asked Questions for Students & Parents

Below is a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions about the Challenge Program. If you don't find an answer to your specific question, please contact us.


FAQ for Prospective and Current Students

Why Challenge?

In today’s drive to provide rigorous postsecondary academic challenges to high school students in their own environments, we see Challenge as offering benefits that set it apart from other accelerated academic options such as the College Board’s Advanced Placement and the International Baccalaureate programs. Consider the following: 

  • Students are exposed to the rigor, expectations, demands, and culture of a college course, providing an experience that prepares them well for college.
  • University standards, not test writers, define course curriculum.
  • The instructors hold advanced degrees appropriate to PSU’s departmental academic standards.
  • Challenge courses provide multiple and varied assessments to evaluate work—quizzes, homework, mid-terms, projects and finals—instead of a single, final exam. In this way, Challenge is more inclusive; students who may not test well have an opportunity to gain college credit.
  • In high schools that run on the semester system, courses taught at PSU in a quarter may be extended over the high school semester, allowing time to learn the course work in more depth. 
  • Challenge students and instructors have access to PSU services—computer accounts, the library with its research databases and available training, a web-based classroom management tool for instructors, and on-campus activities. We encourage our students to come to campus for workshops, special lectures, and to simply familiarize themselves with a college campus.
  • Challenge provides professional development opportunities to its instructors. Program adjunct instructors and PSU faculty members forge collegial and academic relationships through campus workshops and regular site visits to the classrooms. Instructors are eligible for reduced tuition for continued education in their discipline.
  • In select disciplines, the content for AP or IB may fit within the PSU Challenge course syllabus which has made it possible for some of our participating high schools to offer PSU courses which also meet AP or IB requirements.  In these courses, Challenge students have the assurance of college credit through their PSU enrollment, not based solely on a single high stakes exam, and they also have the advantage of the AP or IB designation on their high school transcript.

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Who is eligible?

Challenge students must meet the following requirements:

  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for one or two Challenge classes; if taking three classes (by petition), 3.5.
  • Recommendation from the instructor and counselor that the student should be able to do A or B work in a college-level class.
  • Senior class status (in some courses, juniors may enroll; instructor may require waiver, particularly in math).     

These requirements are in place to both reward students who have a strong academic record and to protect students who may not be prepared for the rigor of this class, since your Challenge course grade becomes part of your permanent college record. 

Aside from student eligibility, we require that a minimum of 60% of the students in the class participate in Challenge.

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How do Quarters match to Semesters?

Because PSU is on the quarter system (10-week courses) and many of our high schools are on the semester system (15 weeks), there are a variety of ways we have worked with high schools to determine how to cover course material-e.g., superimpose three quarters onto two semesters, match up a quarter with a semester, teach one quarter over the course of an entire academic year. The decision is based on the high school's needs and interests.

For example, foreign language courses are taught through Challenge exactly as they are taught on campus-in three sequences taught in three quarters (fall, winter, and spring). But our math classes are typically taught at the high school in two semesters. Therefore, if your student takes PSU Spanish and PSU calculus, s/he will enroll and pay three times in the course of a year for Spanish (and earn 12 credits) and two times in the course of a year for calculus (and earn 8 credits).

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What is the cost?

Challenge is a self-support program for which we charge a program fee. For the 2012-2013 year, the fee is $226.00 per quarter or semester for a 4-credit course.  For the same course on campus, the cost is $734.00.  

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How do I register?

You register and pay for the Challenge Program at the beginning of each quarter or semester, through your high school instructor, who will give you a special PSU registration form. This form needs to be filled out, signed by a parent or guardian and returned, with a check for the program fee, to your teacher by the deadline date. 

Once your teacher sends us back all the registration forms for the class with payment, we enroll you as a part-time student, register you for your class, and you will be issued a PSU ID number. 

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How do I pay?

You pay by check, made out to Portland State University, attached to your blue registration form. If you are taking more than one class, you may pay for all with one check. 

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What is my status at PSU?

When you enroll through Challenge at the University, you are a part-time Portland State University student.  You will have the privileges of any other part-time student including a computer account and full access to the Library and its extensive online databases.  When you complete your Challenge program course, you will have a record of earned credit at PSU for which you may request an official Portland State University transcript.

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What if I decide I should drop my class? 

You may drop your Challenge class by the posted deadline, which is approximately two weeks after the registration due date, and always before a mid-term exam.  To drop, you need to alert your instructor who must send us an email informing us.  It is very important that we are informed in order to assure that your record is removed. If you decide to do this after the drop deadline, you should talk to your instructor as soon as possible. In this case, your instructor can withdraw you. (NOTE: this must be determined BEFORE the end of the grading period). W grades carry no credit and are not included when calculating GPAs. 

In either case, there are no refunds for dropping a class. And in both cases it is important to talk to your instructor as soon as you start to have concerns. 

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What is the OneCard?

The OneCard is the plastic PSU ID card that is mailed to you in early October from the Registrar’s office. This card resembles a credit card. We recommend you keep this for identification purposes only, including at the library and as a handy way to access your PSU ID number. DO NOT validate. If you lose your card, and do not remember your ID number, you may contact our office and we can look it up for you.

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What is a PSU ID Number?

This number identifies you as a PSU student. You use this number to establish a computer account, to look up your records and receive unofficial transcripts, to order official transcripts, and to access the library. In other words, this number is essential for performing a variety of activities. If you don’t want to keep your OneCard, then write this number down in a convenient place. If you lose the number, contact us and we’ll look it up for you.

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How do I use PSU’s online resources?

Accessing computer resources at PSU, including the PSU Information System for academic records, transcripts, etc., the classroom learning management system, use of the campus computer labs, off campus access to library databases, and many other services at PSU, requires an ODIN (email) account.  Some of our classrooms use ODIN accounts for assignments and library research. For these classrooms we assist in setting up their accounts.  Individual students not in a class that utilizes these services as a class, are encouraged to set up an account on their own to take full advantage of PSU resources. Here’s how:

To set up an ODIN Account:

Call the PSU HELP Desk at 503.725. HELP (4357) and let them know you want to set up your ODIN account. You will need to give them your PSU ID number. They’ll give you a temporary password so you can log into the system.

Go to 

Follow the on screen step-by-step instructions. You will be assigned an ODIN Username and will set your own password. Your account may take up to 24 hours to synchronize to all systems. 

Be sure to WRITE DOWN YOUR User name and password and keep them handy. 

To use the PSU Information System (banweb), go to Log in with either your PSU ID number or your ODIN USER NAME and password.  This is where you can view your academic record, view your unofficial transcript or order an official one.

NOTE: If you do not frequently access the PSU Information System or have forgotten your password, you will need to call the PSU Help Desk and ask them to reset it. Have your PSU ID number ready to give them.

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How do I use the Library? 

The library website is Phone number is 503.725.5874.  You are encouraged to visit the library and its vast resources. Bring your ID card or your ID number if you plan to check out books (see caution below regarding fees associated with late book return).

You are also eligible to access electronic resources online from remote locations. You do this by logging into the resources catalog at You will be prompted to enter your Odin login name and password. 

In addition, the library offers a variety of classes and workshops to assist you in using its resources. Check the schedule for these drop-in classes on the website. You may also contact a librarian in a specific area for personalized help. A roster of librarian names, subject area, and contact information is available under “research guides.” Select a subject to view librarian information.


A Word of Caution:  Books checked out of the PSU Library MUST be returned by the indicated due date. If not, you’ll be charged fees daily (and in some cases, hourly fees), along with interest.

The fees will NOT be waived when you return the book. 

For more information on PSU library fines, go to and click on “fines, fees and charges.”


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How Do Grades Work?

A 4.00 Excellent
A- 3.67  
B+ 3.33   
B 3.00 Good
B- 2.67  
C+ 2.33  
C 2.00 Satisfactory
C- 1.67  
D+ 1.33  
D 1.00 Inferior
D- 0.67  
F 0.00 Failure

Students enrolling in PSU courses through the Challenge Program normally obtain dual high school and college credit. The Challenge Program grade for the course is determined in accordance with grading criteria established by Portland State University. The high school grade is determined in accordance with grading criteria established by the high school. Therefore, it is unlikely but possible that your PSU grade may not be the same as your high school grade.

PSU uses regular letter grades A, B, C, D, and F to indicate academic performance. At the end of your course, your instructor will send the class grades to the Challenge Program Office at PSU where they will get recorded with the Registrar’s Office. The table indicates the points awarded on your transcript for any given grade and the asociated performance index.

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What Should I Know About Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when you present someone else’s work or ideas as your own. You may do this accidently (forgetting to site a source) or on purpose (copying). Portland State (and therefore, Challenge) considers plagiarism a serious form of academic misconduct. 

“Plagiarism can be:

  • Copying someone’s words without giving them credit;
  • Quoting somebody’s words incorrectly or out of context;
  • Using or repeating someone’s ideas or concepts without giving them credit;
  • Misrepresenting someone’s ideas or concepts;
  • Copying images or music without permission or without proper attribution;
  • Citing incorrectly - i.e. citing the wrong source or having incomplete or inaccurate citations;
  • Intentionally presenting someone else’s work as your own - i.e. copying off fellow students, submitting papers you didn’t write, buying research papers from the Internet;
  • Failing to acknowledge the contribution of others in work produced collaboratively.”*

Please see the PSU Library’s website (see footnote below) for more information on plagiarism and for examples of how to cite work.



As a university program, Challenge follows the PSU Student Code of Conduct which includes prohibition of “all forms of academic dishonesty, cheating, and fraud, including but not limited to: (a) plagiarism, which includes, but is not limited to, word for word copying, using borrowed words or phrases from original text into new patterns without attribution, or paraphrasing another writer’s ideas; (b) the buying and selling of all or any portion of course assignments and research papers; (c) performing academic assignments (including tests  and examinations) for other persons; (d) unauthorized disclosure and receipt of academic information; and (e) falsification of research data.”*

If a student is caught plagiarizing or engaging in any other act of academic dishonesty, the course instructor may issue a zero or a failing grade for the assignment in which the academic dishonesty was found, but they may not remove the student from the course or fail them on other academic assignments.   Academic units may, however, suspend the student engaging in academic dishonesty from the department or program, or expel them.  In addition, the instructor or the department may submit a written complaint to the Office of Student Affairs regarding the student’s misconduct.**

To read the PSU Student Code of Conduct, please go to:



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How Do I See My Grades/Unofficial Transcript?

To check your records, go to the PSU Information System (banweb), enter your PSU Student ID number (the on the bottom of your OneCard) and your initial pin (your birthday using six digits, e.g., 011094 for Jan 10 1994—you should change this pin later).

Click on “Student Services & Financial Aid,” then on “Student Records” to display your grades/unofficial transcript. If you do not see your grades listed, it may be because it has not yet been recorded. Challenge instructors sometimes record grades at the end of the semester instead of the university quarter.

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What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of the student’s records.  FERPA rules specify when and who gets to see a student’s records (which include not only files in offices or computerized information, but also student exam scores, student essays, or other student work).

The important thing for our Challenge students and parents to understand is that, if a parent wants information from us about their student’s PSU academic record, we cannot provide it unless the student completes and submits a permission form to us. This and other forms are downloadable from our website.

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What About Students with Disabilities?

It is important to notify the Challenge Office in cases of a student with a documented disability. Universities and high school policies regarding accommodation are not necessarily the same but the Challenge Program strives to fairly and appropriately accommodate its disabled students.

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Information on Transcripts and Credits

Ordering Official Transcripts

Requesting a transcript (an official record of courses you’ve taken at PSU) is the most important action in seeking recognition for your PSU University coursework.


  1. An official transcript must be ordered; it will NOT be sent automatically to you or to schools to which you apply.
  2. Only YOU can order an official transcript.
  3. You will need to know your PSU ID number or ODIN LOGIN to order a transcript.

First, find out exactly where you need to have a transcript sent (the office and address of the college you’re applying to … may be an admissions or registrar’s office, for example). You can get this information from your college application, the college catalog, or the college admissions office.

Wait until your instructor has submitted final PSU grades so that all your coursework is accounted for. (You can indicate, on your college applications that the PSU transcript will be forwarded once you’ve completed your course.)

Go to the PSU Information System (banweb)

Log in with either your PSU ID Number or your ODIN LOGIN. Your password is the same as your ODIN password.

NOTE: if you never set up your ODIN account, see the instructions under How do I use PSU's Online Resources If you don’t remember your password, call the OIT Help Desk, give them your PSU ID number and ask them to reset the password. They can usually do this over the phone. 503.725.HELP. 

On the PSU Information System (banweb) website:, you can indicate the number of transcripts needed. You can have them sent directly to Admissions Offices or, if you are taking one with you to a give to an Admissions Officer, keep it sealed or else it will not be valid. Transcripts cost $4.00 each.

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Transferring Credit

Because PSU is part of the Oregon University System (OUS), Challenge courses count toward the completion of your bachelor’s degree at PSU or any college or university in the Oregon University System (OUS), and any Oregon community college.

Beyond the OUS system, PSU Challenge credit is accepted by most universities throughout the country. We are accredited by the National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), which helps other universities know we are in league with quality programs nationally.

That said, credit recognition remains the exclusive prerogative of the institution granting it. College policies vary in regard to transfer credit, and may be applied differently from year to year and from student to student. Many factors affect a university’s decision to accept transfer credit, including the grade the student earned in the course, and how similar the course content is. Usually, however, colleges will accept courses in which you’ve earned a C or above and that are a good match for those you would have taken on that campus. Courses that differ from those the college offers may also be transferred, but often as elective credit. Even schools that ultimately do not accept PSU credit may give advanced placement or waive a prerequisite. It’s important to understand that credit can be given in a variety of ways.

Some colleges will not give credit for a college course that also fulfilled a high school graduation requirement. And a few will not give credit for coursework taken off campus. Private universities are more likely to have these restrictions than public ones.

In some cases, even where transfer credit is not normally granted as general policy, you may be able to negotiate to have your PSU coursework recognized if you can show your work and demonstrate your knowledge. We strongly encourage you to keep your work—portfolios, exams, syllabi--so you can show them to college officials who need more information before accepting your transfer credit.

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What to Consider when Applying to Colleges 

Policies for credit transfer are typically listed on a university’s website, with their admissions information. We encourage you to take a look at the policies for the universities to which you plan to apply. Then, make an informed decision about where you choose to apply that includes understanding these policies.

In today’s economy, choosing a school that accepts your PSU credit should be a consideration in your final decision. It can make a significant difference in the cost of your college education.

We list schools that have accepted our credit in years past in our brochure. It is by no means a complete list as it is based on survey feedback we receive from former students and our response rate is only about 12%. And we can’t predict when policies might change. But we also can tell you that the following schools, popular with Challenge students, have rigid policies about credit transfer and do not accept any concurrent-enrollment credit. These schools are:

Puget Sound 

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Strategies for Pursuing Credit Transfer

If your PSU credit is not accepted, we encourage you to try to argue for it.  Start with discussing this with your college academic advisor. Check to see what course at your university matches closely to the PSU class. Especially if there is a similar course, consider making an appointment with the Chair of the appropriate Department. The idea is to show evidence of what you’ve learned to a faculty member who can assess your knowledge and establish if you’ve met the learning outcomes of their course. Bring your course syllabi or course outlines, course descriptions and, if appropriate, your student portfolios from the PSU courses.  If, in fact, you have met these learning outcomes, it stands to reason that you shouldn’t have to retake a course and hopefully that your PSU credit is recognized.

Remember too, that credit can be recognized in a variety of ways:  You may be exempt from taking a similar required course. Or you may be placed in a higher-level course as a result of your PSU experience. Both forms of recognition will benefit you by allowing you more room in your program to take courses in your major and interesting electives.

And finally, you can let us know of your efforts so that we can also advocate on your behalf.