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Athabasca University

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am interested in AU and PLAR, but I need program advice.

For program advice prior to undertaking PLAR, please contact AU Counselling Services

2. Can I take courses while having my PLAR portfolio assessed?

Yes. A program advisor can help you choose courses that are "safe" for you to take while your PLAR evaluation is being completed.

3. I am completing a two-year college diploma and would like to receive credits toward an AU degree.

A. Transfer credit is different from PLAR. Transferring your previously-earned credit from another accredited institution is done through the Evaluations unit of the Registrar's Office. You must complete the transfer credit process before you can begin PLAR. Click here for Transfer Credit information.

4. What is transfer credit?

If you have completed work at an accredited post secondary institution, have your official transcripts sent directly to the AU Registrar's Office for evaluation for possible transfer credit. PLAR is a separate process from the transfer credit process.

5. I have completed some courses at another university and have been working for many years. How can I obtain credit for both my formal education and my work-related learning?

Assessment of prior learning is a two-step process in your case. The first step involves the Registrar's Office evaluating transfer credit. The second step is portfolio assessment. If you do not receive transfer credit for some courses, you may include the learning from those courses in your portfolio.

6. With nine courses left to complete, should I pursue credits for prior learning via the PLAR process?

You most likely require specific course credits at a senior level and the results of a portfolio assessment would not likely provide you with the credits you require. A program advisor can help you with this decision.

7. I have a Communications diploma and want to apply to your Bachelor of Professional Arts program in Communication Studies. I would also like to apply for PLAR credit. What should I do?

Have an official copy of your transcript forwarded from your college to the Registrar's Office at Athabasca University. AU's Admissions Unit will determine your admissibility and indicate the amount of transfer credit that you will receive.

You may also qualify to earn additional credits through prior learning assessment once you are enrolled in your program.

8. How do I determine if my informal learning can gain me credits toward a degree?

The informal learning that you bring forward in your PLAR portfolio must relate to your program of study.  Additionally, you must not have already received credit for similar learning in courses taken at AU or transferred in to AU from other institutions. CLA staff can help you make this determination.

9. How many PLAR credits can I earn?

The maximum number of PLAR credits available to you depends on your program. (If a program is not listed, PLAR credits are not available.)

10. I am considering graduate studies at Athabasca University. Can I obtain PLAR credits toward my graduate program at AU?

Generally, PLAR credits are not available for students in graduate programs. If you have further questions about a graduate program, please contact the program office directly.

11. Will PLAR help me to get into a graduate program?

If you are considering going on to graduate study elsewhere, it is important to contact that institution to determine their stance on the PLAR credits contained within your undergraduate degree. PLAR credits may not be accepted by some institutions, or they may be accepted with some conditions. When you enquire, be sure to receive their response in writing. Institutions will deal with PLAR credits in many different ways and will also change their policies from time to time.

12. How much time does PLAR take?

It will probably take you between six and twleve months to prepare a PLAR portfolio, depending on how much time and effort you can devote to it.

Once received by AU, assessment of your portfolio will take between three and four months.

13. Have you received my transcripts?

The Centre for Learning Accreditation does not receive or review transcripts for possible transfer credit. Transcripts are sent to the Transfer Credit Services Unit in the Registrar's Office.

14. I've published articles in journals. Should I send these along to the assessors?

No. Just mention them in your text and use them to demonstrate you have specific knowledge toward a learning goal. If there are short samples that are characteristic of your writing, you could include them as exhibits in the appendices of your portfolio.

15. What about references, awards and letters of support for verification?

Include them if they point out learning relevant to your program. Collect the Letters of Attestation, certificates, awards and so forth that you have received. Then enter the appropriate examples in the appendices of the portfolio as support of a particular learning goal.

Please refer to the Portfolio Checklist for a full listing of portfolio requirements.

16. How is my portfolio assessed?

The CLA arranges for three assessors to review your portfolios independently. Read more about the assessment process.

17. Where can I get help with my portfolio?

The Centre for Learning Accreditation is your first stop. Our coach/mentor will work with you to prepare your PLAR portfolio. In preparation, consult our written guidelines and visit the virtual portfolios on this site.

18. How does a portfolio differ from a resume?

A resume captures what you have done in your career. A portfolio should demonstrate what you have learned from your life/career experiences. That learning will be directed to your program at AU.

19. What do other PLAR participants have to say about completing the PLAR process?

See testimonials from students who have participated in PLAR.

Updated February 27 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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