Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)

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.

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.

Prior learning can be demonstrated through challenge exams and/or the portfolio process.

Exams are set by the programs for designated courses and may encompass a paper and pencil test, an interview and/or a demonstration or performance test, depending on the nature of the learning. Contact the Program Coordinator to find out if there is an examination available for the course for which you are seeking credit. Learn more about Challenge Exams.

A portfolio is a binder of information which describes your relevant experience, identifies and analyses your learning achievements and provides validation of that learning through a collection of documents. 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

Questions to Consider

  • Are you applying to Northern College as a mature student?
  • Do you have previous work and/or volunteer experience in the field of study you have applied for?
  • Have you previously attended post-secondary?

If you have answered yes, to any of the above questions, you may be eligible for the PLAR process. To apply for PLAR follow these steps:

Step 1 Review

Review the PLAR Reference Guide to determine course eligibility and assessment.

Step 2 Consult

Consult with your Program Coordinator to discuss which courses based on your individual background you could PLAR. Also, verify what the coordinator specifically requires from you for your PLAR submission.

Step 3 Connect

If a complete PLAR portfolio is required of you, and you require guidance, then connect with a PLAR Advisor who will help you navigate the application process

Moosonee Campus
Julie Garrod
(705) 336-2913 ext. 5609

Timmins Campus
Shawna Foy
705-235-3211 ext. 7214

Kirkland Lake Campus
Janice Ranger
705-567-9291 ext. 3770

Haileybury Campus
Sherry Shea
705-672-3376 ext. 8843

Step 4 Obtain Copies

If required, request copies of course outlines 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.

Step 6 Complete Form

Complete the PLAR Form. Use only one form for each PLAR you are requesting.

Step 7 Payment

Pay the required PLAR fees to the Student Services Office. Payment can be made at Student Services on campus or online through your Student Portal.

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 now?

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

If at any time through-out this process you require assistance please contact a PLAR Advisor or the Pathways Officer at | 705-235-3211 ext. 2190.

Please note that if you are a current student looking to transfer credits in relation to building a portfolio for submission please ensure that you utilize the Internal Transfer Credit Request Form in your Student Portal.

You can also refer to Internal Transfer Credits if you are looking to Transfer Within Northern.

Please note: If you are receiving funding through OSAP and wish to retain your full-time status, remember: OSAP requires you attend 70% of your classes at Northern. This may affect how many transfer credits you wish to apply for.

Attention Northern College & Laurentian University Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) students:
The Collaborative BScN program does 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.