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Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) lets you use knowledge and skills learned outside recognized programs—including volunteer work, hobbies, on-the-job experience, or independent study—to gain exemption for particular courses in the program of your choice. Your knowledge and skills will be assessed, course by course, by faculty members in the program area.

There is a non-refundable fee charged in advance for assessment. The fee is usually between half and full tuition, depending on the complexity of the assessment process. Not all courses have PLAR credit available, and there is a limit on how many total PLAR credits you can receive.

PLAR may be the right route for you if you are:

  • thinking of applying for courses that are related to work you have done successfully
  • interested in getting credit for what you already know
  • considering changing to a career where you have gained knowledge informally and don’t want to spend a long time in school

How you’re assessed

BCIT uses a variety of methods to determine a learner’s level of skill and knowledge.

Challenge Examinations A special test prepared for you by the assessor, typically covering a wide body of accepted knowledge or concepts in the challenged course, as detailed in the course learning outcomes.
Demonstrations You must demonstrate mastery of a skill (e.g., welding, writing computer code) in the presence of an assessor who measures your skill against a set of criteria.
Assignments Both you and the assessor determine what proof is required and the best way for you to demonstrate the required level of knowledge through an assignment.
Interviews Interviews between the assessor and you may be used to supplement the above methods.
Portfolios Portfolios are collections of artifacts that represent your accomplishments relevant to a particular course.
Documentation Letters and other documents can be used to verify competency in some cases.

Who does what?

Your responsibilities as a student are outlined under How to Apply for PLAR below, and are detailed in the BCIT policy document described at the bottom of the page. You must also inquire about your eligibility for financial aid and awards, if you are relying on such assistance.

Important: Receiving PLAR credits may change your student status to less than full-time and therefore make you ineligible for financial aid and awards. Being a student less than full-time also affects your tax status.

The Department

The department is responsible for the retention of all documentation associated with the assessment. The fees for the assessment service are set by each department and will vary with the type of the assessment conducted.

The Assessor

The assessor is responsible for informing you of the course content (learning outcomes), fee structure, details of the type of assessment, and length of time to receive results. The assessor is also responsible for ensuring that your documentation supports the claim for credit and for informing BCIT of a successful assessment.

Getting credit

Once you have applied to have your learning recognized as equivalent to BCIT course credits, the assessor compares your achievement in that subject with the outcomes expected from the BCIT course. If you have successfully demonstrated that you have achieved the required learning outcomes, your grade is shown in the same manner as the grades for other students.

However, courses credited through PLAR are not used in calculation of grade point average (GPA). Credit awarded as a result of Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition is annotated “L” on your transcript.


  • An application for PLAR may be submitted at any time.
  • Assessments must be completed a minimum of two weeks before the commencement of a term to be considered for credit during that term.
  • If you have received a failing grade in a course, you will not be allowed to re-try the failed course via PLAR for a one-year period after the end of the term in which the failure was recorded.

How to apply for PLAR

Step 1:

Use the online program database to determine which program you wish to enter

Step 2:

Review the course descriptions for the program and decide if you have the equivalent competence.

Step 3:

Contact the program assistant for information about the availability, process, and cost of PLAR for the courses that you wish to challenge (contact information is listed on the main page for each program.)

Before you decide to be assessed, contact your assessor to discuss your assessment and any other PLAR-related issues, including the timing of the assessment and notification of the results. The assessor will also give you a copy of the course outline, which details the knowledge and skills that are developed in that course. It is against these criteria that you will be evaluated.

Note: Fees are for assessment, not credit, so applicants pay a non-refundable fee before the assessment.

Policies relating to PLAR

BCIT’s Admissions Policy [PDF] provides more detail about PLAR.