Prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR)

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) provides a way to formally recognize your previous work, life, volunteer or other experiences relevant toward your Durham College program.

If you feel you have the requisite 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 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 feel your previous experiences are 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’re looking to challenge is eligible for PLAR. Course learning outcomes are also stated in the course outline and can be reviewed to confirm if the required knowledge has been obtained.

Students cannot initiate the PLAR process if you:

  • Were registered in or audited the course in the previous ten (10) months
  • Failed the course within the previous two (2) academic years
  • Previously PLARed the course. The PLAR process may be initiated only once per course.
  • 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.


Have you confirmed that you’re a good PLAR candidate? It’s time to get started on applying for your PLAR challenge.

To apply for PLAR, you must submit a PLAR Application Form and non-refundable fee. You should contact the PLAR Coordinator at prior to submitting the request to ensure you meet PLAR eligibility and receive specific information pertaining to the course you’re seeking to PLAR.

PLAR requests must be submitted by the tenth (10th) day of classes each semester. Late applications will not be accepted.

Please note: 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.

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 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?

Durham College endeavours to offer PLAR for as many courses as possible; however, 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 student 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 a 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.