What is Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR)?

What is Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR)?

PLAR uses a variety of tools to help students demonstrate past learning to receive course credit. Prior learning can be acquired through informal study, work, and life experiences that are not recognized by formal credit transfer mechanisms. The student must pay a non-refundable assessment fee and learning will be evaluated by an assessor through various challenge methods.

What is the difference between Transfer Credit (Exemptions) and Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR)?

Transfer Credit or Exemptions involve transferring previous credits from a recognized educational institution through transcripts and course outlines. Please click Academic Registration & Records for more information.

Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR) is the assessment and evaluation of learning, acquired through work and life experiences, for which credit is granted. Mohawk College uses two general approaches to assess learning outside the traditional classroom:

  • Challenge Exam Assessment
  • Portfolio Assessment

Who is eligible for Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR)?

Most people who apply for PLAR have significant work and life experience. You must receive approval from your Academic Area prior to registration. It is up to you to demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcomes of the course. Credits earned through PLAR do not guarantee entry into a Program of Studies. Candidates must follow normal admission procedures.

Students who have failed credit courses, or have been unsuccessful in a previous challenge, do not qualify for PLAR unless one year has lapsed and additional learning is demonstrated. The Academic Area has the discretion to deny a PLAR request.

If English is a second language, you may require a language competency test to meet language requirements of the College.

How is prior learning assessed?

Credits through PLAR are determined on a course-match basis. The assessment process is determined by the academic area. This may require a challenge exam and/or portfolio. Additional demonstration of learning may be requested at the assessor's discretion. References may be contacted to verify sources of documentation. Assessors will make all reasonable efforts to transcribe credits through PLAR in the same way as the course.

Which courses are eligible for assessment?

Most courses are eligible for PLAR. Courses ineligible for PLAR are usually indicated on the course outline. Candidates are permitted to obtain a maximum of 75% program credits through PLAR. You must earn 25% of credits under the direct supervision of Mohawk College faculty.

How does an individual apply for PLAR?

You must contact your Program Coordinator/Program Manager, indicating the course(s) you want to challenge, and request approval. Once approved, complete a PLAR Registration Form (PDF) and pay the non-refundable fee. PLAR assessments may take 6-8 weeks to process. plar [at] mohawkcollege.ca (Contact Us) with any questions.

What is the PLAR fee and refund policy?

The 2023-2024 PLAR fee, set by Mohawk each year, is $145.08 per course. The assessment fee is non-refundable and must be paid in full prior to registration.

OSAP Students - If you are a Full-time student receiving OSAP, please speak with Financial Assistance prior to applying for PLAR - your funding may be affected by registering through PLAR.

How are credits recorded?  

Assessors will make all reasonable efforts to transcribe credits in the same way as the course. Where that is not possible, a "CR" - Credit Granted - will be used if requirements are met.

If learning fails to match the outcomes of a given course, a "UW" - Unofficial Withdrawal - will appear on your transcript. No refund will be given for unsuccessful attempts.

What is the PLAR appeal policy?

PLAR appeals are part of Mohawk College's Academic Appeals Policy (opens PDF, 360kb).

What are the benefits of PLAR?

Benefits to students:

  • provides an opportunity to gain college credits based on previous learning and experience
  • reduces the amount of in class time required
  • reduces the cost of education: tuition/books/parking
  • encourages advanced standing in a certificate or diploma program


Benefits to colleges:

  • provides opportunities for faculty to maintain connections with the industry
  • enhances the teaching and learning process
  • fosters appropriate student placement, maintaining retention and seat utilization


Benefits to community:

  • increases the efficiency of training between Mohawk and employers
  • promotes a lifelong learning culture
  • recognizes individualized learning from diverse backgrounds


PLAR processes will be regularly monitored, reviewed, evaluated and revised as needed to reflect changes in the needs being served.