Prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR)

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) provides a way to formally recognize previous work, life, volunteer, or other experiences relevant to your Durham College program if you think you may have required course knowledge.

PLAR offers an opportunity to challenge the learning outcomes of a course using an evaluation method selected by the course subject-matter expert. Types of evaluation may include exams, assignments, portfolios, etc.

Please note: If you have studied previously at a recognized post-secondary institution, Credit Transfer would be a more appropriate option.


PLAR provides an opportunity for individuals with personal or professional experience to use their knowledge and skills to challenge the learning outcomes of a course. If you think your previous experiences may be applicable to course(s) in your program and would like an opportunity to be exempted, PLAR may be an option for you.

Please consult your course outline (second page) to determine if the course you wish to challenge is eligible for PLAR. Course learning outcomes are also stated in the course outline and should be carefully reviewed to confirm if the required knowledge has been obtained.

Students cannot initiate the PLAR process if the following applies.

  • You were registered in, or audited the course, in the previous ten (10) months.
  • You failed the course within the previous two (2) academic years.
  • You have previously submitted a PLAR challenge for the same course. The PLAR process may be initiated only once per course.
  • You have misrepresented your performance in a college course for the purpose of obtaining marks or recognition.

It is highly advisable that you complete all pre-requisites for a course prior to submitting a PLAR request. Please contact the PLAR Coordinator at for additional information.

If you meet the above criteria, continue reading to learn how to apply.


  • The PLAR process can take approximately two months from start to completion, as such, it is advisable to submit requests in advance of classes starting.
  • PLAR requests must be submitted by the tenth (10th) day of classes each semester.
  • Late applications will not be accepted.
  • You should continue attending class until you receive a successful PLAR outcome. In the event the PLAR receives an unsuccessful outcome, this ensures the course requirement will be met.



You must be a registered Durham College student to apply for PLAR.


Obtain the current course outline for the course to be challenged and review the course learning outcomes (CLO). If you cannot locate this information, please contact the PLAR office.


Complete the PLAR Self-Assessment Form to evaluate and document whether your knowledge and skills substantially match the learning outcomes in the current course outline.


After completing the PLAR Self-Assessment form, students will contact the appropriate faculty and submit their completed PLAR Self-Assessment Form (the program coordinator/program designate may ask for clarifying information prior to determining applicant eligibility for PLAR).


The program coordinator/program designate will review and advise the student whether the PLAR Self-Assessment form is approved. In cases where a student has been denied eligibility, the program coordinator/program designate will provide written reasons for the decision.


If your PLAR Self-Assessment form is approved, you must:

  1. Pay the non-refundable fee:
    • $148.86 – Regular PLAR
    • $20 – Mass Challenge (only for Full-Time & Part-Time students)
  2. Submit a PLAR Application Form and;
  3. Include the approved copy of the PLAR Self-Assessment Form to


The PLAR Office will notify the appropriate school office of the registered PLAR candidate.


The school office will arrange for the release of the challenge assessment to the student.


Faculty of Business

Faculty of Health Sciences

Faculty of Hospitality & Horticultural Science

Faculty of Liberal Studies

Faculty of Media, Art & Design (MAD)

Faculty of Science, Engineering & Information Technology

Faculty of Skilled Trades & Apprenticeship

Faculty of Social & Community Services

PLAR Assistance – Office of the Registrar


You should not register in a course, if you feel you are eligible to PLAR as an assessment cannot be guaranteed within appropriate withdrawal deadlines.


How many credits can I PLAR?

To graduate with a Durham College credential, you must complete at least 25 per cent of program requirements directly through Durham College. As such, you may PLAR or credit transfer up to 75 per cent of program requirements.

Are all courses eligible for PLAR?

No, some courses may be ineligible. Please consult the second page of your course outline to determine if the course you would like to challenge is PLAR eligible.

How will I be assessed?

PLAR is offered on a course-by-course basis using an assessment method determined by the course subject-matter expert. Types of assessments include but are not limited to:

  • a comprehensive written examination or test
  • observation or demonstration of skills
  • an oral or videotaped presentation
  • portfolio submission or product assessment
  • interview

How long does the PLAR process take?

The typical process has the following timelines:

  • Twenty (20) business days upon receipt of PLAR application to create PLAR challenge
  • Timelines for assessment will be determined on a course-by-course. Typically, if the assessment is a formal exam, the exam should be written within ten (10) business days. Other assessments may have up to 3 to 4 weeks for submission.
  • Ten (10) business days after PLAR assessment is submitted for subject matter expert to assess and return to PLAR office.
  • Five (5) business days for PLAR office to notify students of results.

Do I receive a grade for PLAR?

A successful PLAR outcome is graded similarly to the course you are challenging. If the course is a Pass/Fail course, a successful outcome will result in a Pass. If the course is graded numerically, you will receive a numeric grade. As a successful PLAR is recorded in the same manner as credits earned through course work, a numeric PLAR grade will impact your GPA.

If unsuccessful, the failing grade will not be transcribed on your academic record and will have no impact on your GPA. You will not be able to initiate the PLAR process a second time for the same course.

How does PLAR impact my tuition and/or OSAP?

Successfully PLARed courses that are dropped from your schedule may impact your full-time enrolment status, which could impact your OSAP funding or eligibility for other student financial aid options. Dropping to part-time status may also impact access to other student benefits and services such as the U-Pass, medical coverage, and access to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre.

Tuition fees would not be refunded for successfully completed and dropped courses unless you drop to a part-time status.


Courses with a mass challenge option require a minimum of ten (10) post-secondary students to be registered for the same PLAR assessment, by day 10 of the current semester, for fees to be assessed as such. The mass challenge PLAR fee is $20 and is available to Full-Time & Part-Time students. This option is not available to students registered with Professional & Part-Time Learning.