Recognition of Prior Learning

Receive Advanced Standing for Past Learning Experiences

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), also known as Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR), is a process that awards learners access to formal study and advanced standing through the assessment of certified, non-formal and informal learning including work and life experience, training, independent study, volunteer work, travel, and hobbies. RPL assesses the knowledge you've gained from your experiences, not how much experience you have. 

There are two RPL streams learners can apply for. The fee for the RPL assessment is $175 (non-refundable). 

Please Note: The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program is currently only eligible for certificate programs in the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development and not degree programs in other faculties.

Recognition of Certified Learning
Adult learners who have completed prior coursework through a training provider may apply to have this learning assessed for advanced standing. To do so, learners should provide information about course content (syllabus/learning outcomes), the length of the course, how the course matches that which the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development offers, how long ago the learning took place, and their performance (grade) in the certified learning.

Recognition of Experiential Learning
Adult learners who have significant previous work and life learning that may be equivalent to learning outcomes of university courses/programs can apply to have this learning assessed for advanced standing. To do so, learners will need to complete a learning portfolio, which is a collection of documents (evidence) and writing that learners submit to the university to demonstrate that they have the appropriate prior and experiential learning to earn advanced standing.

To learn more about Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), check out this 30-second video on our YouTube channel.

The Benefits

The RPL process provides learners with:

  • Increased access to university courses and programs.
  • A potential reduction in the time and experiences required to get a credential.
  • An opportunity to validate learning gained through work and life experiences.
  • A method for avoiding duplication of learning.
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem.
  • Assistance with career development and educational planning.  

FAQs for Students

Who should apply for RPL?

RPL is for adult learners who have significant previous work and life learning such as:

  • Independent/self-study
  • Engaging in online self-directed learning (LinkedIn Learning, edX, Coursera, etc.)
  • Volunteer activities
  • Being coached, mentored, and receiving feedback
  • Workplace training
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Professional development events
  • Non-accredited certificates (IT Certificates, Project Management Certification, licenses, etc.)
  • Continuing studies courses or programs

How do I begin the RPL process?

Learners should contact the RPL Office at the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development to discuss their eligibility to apply for RPL, and information and guidance on the RPL process.

You can contact the RPL coordinator to make an appointment by email at rpl@dal.ca.

What is the fee for an RPL assessment?

The fee for the RPL assessment is $175 (non-refundable).

What is advanced standing?

Advanced standing is the recognition of previous successful learning which may be relevant and may be applied to your current program. These prior studies are then credited to your current or future program which reduces the number of courses you need to complete in that program.

What is the difference between RPL and transfer credits?

RPL assesses learning that you have gained through work and life experience or from non-recognized institutions.

Transfer credit involves the assessment of potential formal learning from other recognized post-secondary institutions (colleges, universities, etc.)

How many courses can I be awarded through RPL?

The number of credits available through RPL varies depending on the program selected. In almost all cases, the number of credits or courses awarded is less that 50% of the required total for a certificate program.

Can I receive credits towards a degree program through RPL?

At this time, the Recognition of Prior Learning program is only applicable for certificate programs in the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development. 

My prior learning occurred a long time ago, can I still use it to be granted advanced standing?

Prior learning must have occurred within an appropriate time frame. Typically, this is within 10 years. However, this period may be shorter based on the program area and the currency/relevance of the prior learning (i.e. technology skills/knowledge).

How long does the RPL process take?

The amount of time it takes to prepare an application (and possibly a learning portfolio) depends on how much time and effort you can commit to it.

Once received, the RPL Office aims to notify you with your RPL results within 4 weeks.

How will I find out the result of my RPL application?

All RPL results and feedback are passed along through our student information system and you can access the Student Portal here. 

Where can I get help to complete my learning portfolio?

You can contact the RPL coordinator to make an appointment by email at rpl@dal.ca.

Can I have my military training assessed through RPL?

Yes, your military training can be assessed and recognized for academic awards through RPL. The RPL Office works with the National Advanced Placement & Prior Learning Program to ensure your training is assessed properly.

Can I appeal the results of my RPL assessment?

Yes, an individual has the right to appeal any RPL result. An appeal must be submitted in writing to the RPL Office within five days of the RPL results notification. Individuals must provide sufficient proof of why RPL should be reconsidered. Appeals will be reviewed by the Program Director, Department Head, Associate Dean or Dean of the faculty that performed the original RPL evaluation. Any decisions regarding the appeal are final. Individuals will be notified by the RPL Office of the results of their appeal.


Contact Us

For more information on RPL and how to apply, please contact rpl@dal.ca.