The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Experiential Learning (EXEL) Program

The Experiential Learning (EXEL) program is an opportunity at Reed for current students to earn up to two quarters of PE credit by participating in internships, fellowships, or temporary periods of guided work. Students who earn PE credit through the EXEL program will still need to earn four quarters of directed physical education credits.

EXEL experiences

  • must have a demonstrated relationship to the student's degree;
  • must include at least ten hours of work (paid or unpaid);
  • must take place in a PE quarter during a semester, or during the summer;
  • must be off-campus (not based at Reed);
  • can be in-person, or remote;
  • must have a supervisor who is not working at Reed.

International Students

F-1 visa holders may enroll in the EXEL program. After requesting an EXEL experience, staff from International Student Services will reach out to you if you need CPT (paid experiences), or to ask if you want to apply for CPT (unpaid experiences). You may then apply to utilize Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization for up to two PE credits worth of CPT segments for paid or unpaid off-campus experiences. CPT is a preferable solution for F-1 off-campus work authorization because it is authorized by Reed ISS staff at no cost to the student and the process for authorization is very quick. It also does not subtract from the student’s total amount of OPT time. CPT is activity-specific and may only be used prior to the completion of a degree course of study.

Application Deadlines

Eligibility for an EXEL experience requires being able to register for the appropriate PE course in SOLAR (PE 401, 402, 403, 404, or 400) prior to the PE ADD Deadline listed on Reed's academic calendar.

CLBR staff have to add an override for the course after the request is made in Handshake, so EXEL experiences need to be requested in Handshake prior to the ADD Deadline for that quarter.

EXEL PE 400 is for summer EXEL, and may not be listed on the academic calendar. The application deadline for summer will be listed on this website, and will typically be one week after the end of the spring semester.

Application Deadline for Summer 2024

Deadline to request an EXEL experience for Summer 2024: Friday, May 24th at 12PM noonException: International students who are seeking CPT authorization may continue to apply throughout June.

Any applications submitted by this deadline will be evaluated for eligibility and considered for approval of an EXEL experience over summer. Final approval follows our regular process as described below, and may take up to three weeks in some cases.


  • All currently enrolled students are eligible to apply.
    • Students must currently be attending Reed directly (no study abroad) if the experience is to take place during a semester.
  • EXEL experiences must take place during an academic quarter or summer prior to graduation.
  • In order to receive PE credit through the EXEL program, you must not have already completed all six of your required PE credits, and you must also not have already completed two Community Engagement (CE) credits, or non-directed PE credits. Only two PE credits in total may be earned through a mix of CE or EXEL or non-directed PE courses.

Note that though you can enroll in more than one PE course in a quarter, only one PE credit may be earned per quarter.

International Students

In order to qualify for CPT, an F-1 student must have completed a full academic year in the U.S., so for most incoming F-1 students, the first eligible term for CPT will be in summer. Contact the ISS office for more details.

If you are a graduating senior who will not be able to complete CPT while enrolled, please consult ISS for more information on post-completion OPT. International students may only utilize two total credits via CPT to satisfy graduation requirements. Students may not be authorized for CPT more than twice.

Exception: International students who have already completed their PE requirements, or who have already completed two 200-level or 300-level PE courses, may still be able to utilize CPT via the EXEL program. Students in this situation should email to inquire. 

To Apply

All applications will be submitted in Handshake by requesting an EXEL Experience. The application consists of filling out the experience request in Handshake. You will also need details about your experience, as well as contact information and an email address for someone who will be supervising you (your employer or internship supervisor, typically). Fill out every field in the application as best you can. You will also be asked to answer this question:

EXEL experiences must have a demonstrated relationship to your degree program. Please explain how this experience will provide practical application of theory, concepts, and/or teaching in your Reed major area of study. Limit your response to 200 words or less.

You will also need to register for the experience in SOLAR for the correct quarter, listed as PE 400, 401, 402, 403, or 404. CLBR staff will authorize you to register in SOLAR after you submit your experience request in Handshake. You will be notified by email when you can register. SOLAR registration will work slightly differently for experiences in summer. Students who will take PE 400 EXEL in summer will be automatically enrolled in the course after submitting their experience request in Handshake.

We encourage interested students to schedule an appointment with a CLBR advisor to learn more about the program. International students are also encouraged to meet with ISS for information on CPT authorization. If you'd like to read more about how the experience request form in Handshake works, take a look at their help article on how to request an experience.

If your Handshake account has been blocked, you can still apply for an EXEL experience. Email for instructions.

Request an EXEL Experience in Handshake

Next Steps

EXEL Experience requests will be reviewed weekly by the Center for Life Beyond Reed staff. If your request is accepted, it will then need to be approved by your employer, staff in International Student Services, and staff in CLBR. You will also need to register for the course in SOLAR. You may not begin work until after your experience has been completely approved in Handshake.

This process may take up to three weeks, but can happen sooner, depending upon how fast each approval happens. You also need to be able to register for the class in SOLAR before the ADD deadline for the quarter.

Required Final Evaluations

After your experience begins, you'll need to complete a final evaluation survey when prompted to do so by email via Handshake. Your supervisor will also receive a final evaluation survey via email which will ask them to confirm that you completed at least ten hours of work during the experience. These evaluations must be completed before grades are due for that term, and will be required in order for you to receive PE credit for your EXEL experience.

International Students

International students planning to utilize CPT must also keep in mind that they are not eligible to begin work until they have received their new I-20 with CPT authorization from ISS. CPT authorization is approved by ISS, and students should plan to submit required documentation at least 10 business days prior to the anticipated first day of work.

EXEL Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)