Transfer Pathways

There are several ways in which students with previous post-secondary education can have that experience recognized upon entry to OCAD University. The Prior Learning Assessment Policy outlines general principles applied to students entering with previous post-secondary experience.

  1. Upper Year Entry
  2. Articulation Agreements
  3. Transfer Credit
  4. Course Challenge
  5. Residency Requirements
  6. Special Students
  7. Second Credential

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Policy Guidelines

Prior Learning Assessment is a method by which an undergraduate student may, with appropriate evidence and documentation, be able to obtain credit for learning acquired outside of and/or prior to admission to the an OCAD University degree program.

At OCAD U, Transfer Pathways/Prior Learning Assessment describes three broad categories:

  1. Upper Year Entry: admission into second year or third year of studio programs through the awarding of block studio credit based on a portfolio review and/or evidence of work completed in an equivalent program at an accredited post-secondary institution. In cases where OCAD U has negotiated an articulation agreement with another post-secondary institution, block transfer credit for work in a specified program may be granted without a portfolio review.
  2. Transfer Credit: the awarding of credit, usually on a course by course basis, for work completed at another accredited post-secondary institution, or in another program at OCAD U, or for International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses.
  3. Course Challenge: the awarding of credit for knowledge acquired outside of formally accredited educational programs that coincides with a specific credit course or courses offered at OCAD U.

General Principles for all categories

  • The combined credit recognized by any one or all of the above methods may not exceed 50% of the total credits required to complete a bachelor's degree program at OCAD U (see Residency Requirements).
  • Eligibility for Prior Learning Assessment does not constitute entitlement to credit.

1. Upper Year Entry

Applicants who have completed one or more years at an accredited post-secondary institution in a program equivalent to one of OCAD U’s programs, may apply for upper year entry to a program that is related to their previous education. Eligibility is dependent on the level attained and the relevancy of the particular program of study. Applicants should have completed at their previous institution the equivalent of OCAD U’s first or second year program in the program they are applying to.

  • Upper Year Entry entails block credit for studio and studio/seminar courses only.
  • Applicants granted entry to an upper year may also apply for transfer credit for liberal arts & sciences courses. (For liberal arts & sciences courses, please see Transfer of Credit or Course Challenge.)
  • Applicants awarded entry to an upper year may be admitted into second year or third year of a specific program.
  • Students may be required to take specified studio, studio/seminar or liberal studies courses at a lower year level in addition to their second or third year program requirements.

Applicants without previous design or art education may apply to first year only. The first-year portfolio review will determine whether the applicant should be considered for entry to an upper year.

2. Articulation Agreements

OCAD University has Articulation Agreements with the following post-secondary institutions and programs:

For further details review the OCAD U - Articulation Agreement (PDF). Please contact the Admissions & Recruitment office at or call 416-977-6000, Ext. 308 if you have any questions.

3. Transfer Credit

Students who have attended an accredited post-secondary institution or who have completed International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) courses may apply for transfer credit:

  • All academic transcripts and required documentation must be submitted to Admissions & Recruitment at the time of admission for assessment; however, applications for transfer credit may be considered up to 12 months after admission. Decisions are made in consultation with the appropriate Dean or designate.  
  • Normally, a maximum of 1.5 studio credits will be awarded to first-year students  admitted to studio-based programs. 
  • Only those credits with a final mark of 60% to 70% (depending on the source institution) will be eligible for consideration for transfer credit.
  • Contact hours must total a minimum of 36 hours for 0.5 OCAD U credit, with a minimum of three weeks instruction. 
  • The minimum credit granted for transfer is equivalent to 0.5 credit. By exception, 0.25 transfer credit may be awarded where 0.25 credit courses are required for a specific OCAD U degree program.
  • IB Higher Level courses with a grade of 5 or better will be considered for transfer credit if applicable for program requirements
  • AP courses with a grade of 4 or better will be considered for transfer credit if applicable for program requirements

Applicants must submit the following documentation. All documentation in a language other than English of French must be accompanied by a certified English translation:

  • Official transcript(s)
  • Detailed course outlines or course syllabi (if requested)

To request transfer credit complete the Transfer Credit Application (PDF) and submit it to the Admissions & Recruitment office.

Students may appeal transfer credit decisions by submitting additional information with a formal request for reconsideration to the Admissions & Recruitment office no later than 20 business days after the date on their notice of transfer credit. To appeal a transfer credit decision, complete the Transfer Credit Appeal (PDF) form and submit it to the Admissions & Recruitment office.

4. Course Challenge

Students who can demonstrate that they have acquired — through informal or unconventional means — the knowledge covered by a specific course offered at OCAD U may apply for Course Challenge, subject to the following:

  • Course Challenge is only available to students who have been admitted to OCAD U.
  • A request for permission to challenge a course must be submitted before the end of the first week of the course. 
  • Students may normally challenge no more than 2.0 credits.
  • Not all courses may be challenged. Students must consult with the relevant Faculty Office before submitting a request for permission to challenge a course.
  • Students must present evidence of prior learning and receive permission to challenge a course for credit from the Dean or designate of the Faculty offering the course.
  • Credits gained through Course Challenge cannot be used to fulfill the university's residency requirements.
  • Students who are successful in challenging a course for credit will receive a grade of Pass (P) on their transcript. The grade of P has no numerical equivalent and is not included in the calculation of grade point average. The grade of P may not be applied in any way toward application for scholarships, bursaries or loans.
  • Credit will only be awarded for work meeting the standard expected of students who successfully complete the course with a grade of 65% or better.
  • Students may not challenge a course for credit if they have previously registered in that course or its equivalent at OCAD University or any other post-secondary institution. Exceptions to this rule will be made for students who have withdrawn within the first two weeks of a course or whose former university no longer possesses the official records required for transfer credit (i.e., universities in war zones).
  • If the student does not receive credit after challenging a course, a note to this effect will be placed in the students file but will not be entered on the official academic transcript.
  • Students may challenge the same course only once. 

Please contact the Office of the Registrar for more information on Course Challenge.

5. Residency Requirements

OCAD U is the sole arbiter of standards for admission to its areas of study and bases its offers of admission on the evidence of an applicant’s interests in working within, and ability to benefit from, OCAD U’s programs of study and course offerings.

The maximum number of credits that may be accepted for transfer is limited by OCAD U's residency policy, which requires a student to complete a minimum of 50% of her/his graduation requirements at OCAD U. As well, two out of a student's three final semesters prior to graduation (assuming completion of 2.5 credits per semester), including the final one, must be completed in residence at OCAD U.

6. Special Students

Students who have completed OCAD U credit courses before formal admission to a program may request that these courses be credited towards their program requirements. Approval is granted at the discretion of the appropriate Dean in the appropriate Faculty Office. For more information about Special Student Status please click here.

7. Obtaining a Second Credential

OCA/OCAD degree or diploma graduates may apply for admission to a second program leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), a Bachelor of Design (BDes) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA Honours) degree. Interested applicants may apply as Upper Year candidates through the Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC) at

Second Credential Policy

  1. No student may receive two credentials at the same level in the same program/major. 
  2. Students must be formally admitted to any program leading to a second credential. 
  3. Registration in two programs must be sequential and may not be concurrent. 
  4. A maximum of 10.0 credits from the first degree/diploma program may be transferred to the second program. The number of transfer credits and specific program requirements are to be determined in consultation with the Dean.
  5. No student may receive two AOCAD diplomas.