Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

Knowledge and skills gained through life experiences may be assessed for credit and advanced standing granted through the process of Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). Assessment may take the form of written portfolios, demonstrations, testimonials, tests, projects, etc.

The PLAR system evaluates experiential learning and relates it to formal college-level courses and programs and is intended for students who are resuming their education rather than those continuing directly from secondary school.

If you are applying to Northern College as a mature student, have previous work and/or volunteer experience in the field of study you have applied for, or have you previously attended post-secondary, you may be eligible for PLAR.

IMPORTANT: You have until Day 10 of the current semester to apply. Refer to the Academic Calendar for key dates.

PLAR Reference Guide [PDF, 404 KB]PLAR Request Form [PDF, 209 KB]

How To Apply for PLAR

Step 1: Determine Eligibility & Assessment Requirements
Review the PLAR Reference Guide [PDF, 404 KB] to determine course eligibility.

Step 2: Consult Program Coordinator
Consult with your Program Coordinator to discuss which courses based on your individual background you could PLAR and what is required from you for your PLAR submission.

Step 3: Connect with PLAR Advisor
If a complete PLAR portfolio is required of you, and you require guidance, please connect with a PLAR Advisor who will help you navigate the application process.

Step 4: Obtain Copies
If required, request copies of course outlines from education received at other institutions and review their learning outcomes to determine if there is a match between your existing knowledge and what is to be taught. If you believe you have achieved a high percentage of the courses learning outcomes then consider applying for PLAR.

Step 5: Collect
Collect evidence to support your experience-based, college-level knowledge. I.e. resumes, work samples, letters from employers, performance appraisals, etc. A portfolio will include a combination of documents and records of your relevant experience, demonstrates your learning achievements and provides validation of that learning. In order to substantiate the claim to a PLAR credit in a required course, the portfolio must adequately:

  • Identify/describe your relevant learning accomplishments (knowledge, skills, competencies, abilities)
  • Show a match between learning achievements and the requirements of the course
  • Verify these learning accomplishments with supportive documents

Step 6: Complete Form
Once you have collected all your documentation and evidence to support your experience-based, college-level knowledge (for instance, resumes, work samples, letters from employers, performance appraisals), then you can complete the PLAR Request Form [PDF, 209 KB]

Step 7: Payment
Pay required fee. Payment is to be submitted online through your Northern College Student Account. Fee is $148.65 per PLAR. Fees to process the requests are non-refundable.

Step 8: Submit
Submit your completed portfolio to the Pathways Office: If a scanner is not available to you then clear images/photos of the completed request, including supporting documents, can be submitted.

What Happens Next

Your PLAR request will be provided to the Program Coordinator for evaluation. An assessment will be done and a decision made.

The decisions will be communicated to you by the Program Coordinator.

You may need to write an exam or provide further information and documentation. If this is the case you will be contacted.

If advanced standing credit is obtained through PLAR then this will be recorded as “CR” on your transcript and will not be factored into your GPA.

Additional Information

Additional Information

The credit received through the PLAR process must be relevant as it relates to the credentials that you are seeking at Northern College. A maximum of 75% of the requirements for a Northern College credential may be completed through the PLAR process. A learner must earn a minimum of 25% of the required credits through regular study at Northern College.


Information for Students of BScN

Students of the collaborative BScN program do not have the option to PLAR for transfer credits and there are no challenge exams available. All incoming year 1 BScN students who may be eligible for transfer credits, will have transfer credits automatically assessed based on transcripts submitted at the time of application. Eligible students will be advised if any transfer credits are granted in late August, by the Program Coordinator. Students are not to contact Laurentian University regarding their transfer credit assessment.

Important for All Advanced Standing Requests

Students MUST continue to attend classes in the course until a decision has been made. The decisions and/or grades assessed by the Academic staff are final and are not subject to appeal. Should a student’s status drop from full-time to part-time, as a result of transfer credits, they are encouraged to meet with their program coordinator to select other courses (if possible) to add to their timetable. A change in status can affect funding from OSAP.

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