Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)

What is PLAR?

St. Lawrence College recognizes that college-level learning may be acquired outside the classroom through employment, volunteer activities, self-directed study, travel, or other life experiences. PLAR recognizes military on-the-job training programs as prior learning.

PLAR credits are awarded for demonstrated learning, not just from various experiences. To be eligible for credit, the learning achieved must be applicable to the vocational learning outcomes in your chosen program at St. Lawrence College.

PLAR is different from receiving transfer credits. Transfer credits may be awarded to a learner who has completed equivalent courses at other accredited educational institutions verified by transcripts and course outlines. For information regarding transfer credits click here.


  • Provide an opportunity to obtain college credits based on demonstrated learning and life experiences
  • Reduce time and money spent earning a credential
  • Recognizes learners’ previous accomplishments, skills, and knowledge
  • Help clarify educational and employment plans and goals
  • Grow and develop as a life-long learner


PLAR is completed on a course-by-course basis. If a connection can be made between demonstrated learning and the course learning outcomes, you may be eligible to apply for PLAR. Many courses are eligible to challenge through PLAR. The challenge process measures demonstrated learning against the knowledge and skills required by course learning outcomes through a variety of evaluation methods.

Your learning will be evaluated as it would happen in a classroom environment and your assessment will be graded. This grade will appear on your transcript and will count towards your Grade Point Average (GPA).

To PLAR a course, you will be required to complete one of the following, as determined by the course outline and the PLAR Assessor:

  • Portfolio
  • Challenge assessment
  • Skills demonstration
  • Interview


You must be 19 years of age or older or have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent. Other eligibility requirements will depend on the course for which you are seeking PLAR.

You must also ensure that you have not:

  • Registered in or audited the course you want to PLAR in the previous 10 months
  • Failed the course in the previous two academic years
  • Previously attempted to PLAR the course
  • Misrepresented your performance in a college course to obtain marks or recognition


PLAR Application Deadlines for the 2023-2024 Academic Year:

  • Fall 2023: September 20, 2023
  • Winter 2024: January 19, 2024
  • Spring/Summer 2024: May 15, 2024

Early Childhood Education PLAR Application Deadlines for the 2023-2024 Academic Year:

  • Fall 2023: September 1, 2023
  • Winter 2024: January 5, 2024
  • Spring/Summer 2024: April 26, 2024

If you believe you would be a good candidate for PLAR follow the steps below:

  • Contact the Pathways Coordinator at The Pathways Coordinator will advise about the process to complete the PLAR, fees involved, and timelines. You will then be directed to your program coordinator to determine if PLAR is appropriate given your specific background.
  • Review the course outline for the course you are interested in challenging through PLAR.
  • Complete the PLAR Self-Assessment Form to assist in identifying your skills, knowledge and abilities against the course learning outcomes and help you make an informed decision about pursuing PLAR.
  • Once you have completed the Self-Assessment Form and feel comfortable with the Course Learning Outcomes, you can fill out the PLAR application here and attach your Self-Assessment Form. You will need to complete a separate application for each course.
  • Email confirmation regarding PLAR eligibility will come from the Pathways Coordinator sent to your student email account. The processing time for applications and documents is up to four weeks.
  • Once your eligibility is determined, the PLAR fee will be added to your student account ($122.28 per course), and you will be enrolled in the PLAR course. Payment is required before proceeding with the assessment process.
  • The Pathways Coordinator will connect you with the assigned PLAR Assessor for each course. The PLAR Assessor will determine the evaluation method required.
  • For portfolio-based assessments, follow instructions provided by the PLAR Assessor and review the PLAR Portfolio Assembly Guidelines to begin compiling your portfolio.
  • For challenge-based assessments, follow instructions provided by the PLAR Assessor and complete the assignment or exam.
  • Submit your assessment no later than two months after receiving assessment instructions from the PLAR Assessor. Electronic submissions can be sent to and will be forwarded to the PLAR Assessor.
  • Once the assessment has been evaluated, you will receive results from the Pathways Coordinator to your student email account.
  • The grade will be added to your transcript. If successful, you will achieve the college credit!

Frequently Asked Questions

Prior learning can be demonstrated through a challenge or portfolio process. The process is determined through consultation with the Pathways Coordinator and the appropriate program coordinator, dean, and or faculty. Using course-based learning outcomes, you can compare them to your learning achievements through a formal process.

The portfolio process helps you assemble a learning portfolio used as part of the assessment and recognition of your learning experiences outside the classroom.

A learning portfolio is an organized collection of materials developed by you that records prior learning achievements and relates them to college course learning outcomes. It describes the relevant experience, identifies and analyzes learning achievements, and provides validation or proof through a collection of documents. What you include in your portfolio depends on the subject area's particular requirements, as outlined by the faculty involved.

The first step when seeking assistance with a PLAR application is to contact the Pathways Coordinator. They will be the main resource that can assist you during the application process and offer guidance. The Pathways Coordinator can be reached by email at

You will be charged a fee for each PLAR course assessment. The fee is subject to change. The current fee is $122.28 per course. Please contact the Pathways Coordinator to confirm PLAR fees. Please note that PLAR fees are not reimbursed in the event of an unsuccessful challenge.

There is no guarantee that you'll obtain credit through PLAR. However, the Pathways Coordinator and appropriate program coordinator will help you pre-determine your chances of success.

It is possible to achieve a maximum of 75% of a college certificate, diploma and advanced diploma programs or 50% of college degree programs through the PLAR process. The number of credits you earn depends upon the nature and extent of your learning and program type. Therefore, a minimum of 25% of the total courses for certificate, diploma and advanced diploma programs and 50% for degree programs must be achieved under St. Lawrence College faculty's direct supervision. Please be aware that some programs have other residency restrictions related to licensing and credentials.

Candidates may appeal the assessment result. To do so, you must contact the Pathways Coordinator within 10 business days of the results notification.

Receiving PLAR credit may affect a student’s course load, which in turn may impact tuition fees and eligibility for OSAP, scholarships, bursaries and other sponsorships. It is the candidate’s responsibility to check their status when applying for PLAR.

Contact Information

Jenny Lauten, Pathways Coordinator

Kingston: 613.544.5400 ext. 1423
Brockville: 613.345.0660 ext. 1423
Cornwall: 613.933.6080 ext. 1423