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Transferring to OCAD University

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.


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.


Keep reading for details on the various pathways available. 

OCAD u campus in black and white.

Transfer Options Info Session

Not sure if you quality for transfer credits or should apply for upper year entry or through an articulation agreement? Watch our info session to learn more.

Applicants who have successfully completed one or more years at an accredited post-secondary institution in a program equivalent to the OCAD U program of interest, may apply for upper year entry. Applicants are welcome to search our current program guides and course catalogue to learn more about the courses our students take in each program. 

Applications for admission are made online through the Ontario Universities' Application Centre using the upper year entry program code.

To qualify for upper year entry into our studio-based art or design programs, we look for studio experience in a related discipline from an accredited post-secondary institution. For inquiries about upper year entry into our BA in Visual and Critical Studies and BFA in Creative Writing programs, please contact Leiko Shimizu, Senior Admissions & Transfer Officer at lshimizu [at] (lshimizu[at]ocadu[dot]ca).

Upper Year Entry Guidelines

  • The portfolios of upper year applicants for our studio-based art or design programs are evaluated to enter at the second or third year level. If successful, these students will receive a block transfer of studio courses based on the strength of their portfolio and academic transcript (normally 3.5 credits for first year and 7.0 credits for second year).
  • Upper year entry for our studio-based art or design programs considers studio courses only. Transcripts will be reviewed for additional credits to transfer in Arts & Sciences courses after offers are made.
  • Upper year entry students may be required to take lower level studio-based art or design courses if skills and experience are lacking in the portfolio and transcript.
  • Upper year entry applicants must meet our English Language Proficiency requirement.
  • OCAD U does not admit students into fourth year. All students must meet our residency requirement which means that at least 50% of the program must be completed at OCAD U.
  • Applicants without previous related educational experience may apply to first year only. Those with very strong portfolio submissions may be recommended for a second review of the portfolio for upper year entry consideration.

Confirm Your Eligibility

To confirm if you are eligible to apply to upper year, please fill out the Upper Year Entry Inquiry Form. Here you will be asked to upload or email your previous post-secondary academic record.

Questions? Contact Leiko Shimizu, Senior Admissions & Transfer Officer at Lshimizu [at] or 416-977-6000 Ext. 308​

OCAD University has Transfer Pathways and Articulation Agreements with the following post-secondary institutions and programs. Further details can be found on the Transfer Pathways (PDF) and Articulation Agreements (PDF).

Transfer Pathways:

  • Cambrian College – Art and Design Fundamentals Certificate
  • Centennial College – Art and Design Fundamentals Certificate
  • Durham College – Foundations in Art and Design Certificate
  • Fanshawe College – Fine Art Foundation Certificate
  • George Brown College – Art and Design Foundation Certificate
  • Georgian College – Art and Design Fundamentals Certificate
  • Humber College – Art Foundation Certificate
  • Niagara College – Art and Design Foundation Certificate
  • Seneca College – Art Fundamentals Certificate
  • Sheridan College – Art Fundamentals Certificate
  • New Brunswick College of Craft & Design – Foundation Visual Arts Certificate
  • Yukon School of Visual Arts, Yukon University - Visual Arts Certificate
  • Dawson College - Visual Arts Diploma (DEC/DCS)


Articulation Agreements:

  • Vancouver Film School – Classical Animation
  • Vancouver Film School – 3D Animation & Visual Effects
  • George Brown College – Interaction Design Advanced Diploma (extended for 2024)
  • George Brown College – Game Development Advanced Diploma (extended for 2024)
  • Humber College – Architectural Technology Advanced Diploma (extended for 2024)



Questions? Contact Leiko Shimizu, Senior Admissions & Transfer Officer at  lshimizu [at] (lshimizu[at]ocadu[dot]ca) or 416-977-6000 Ext. 308​


Transfer credits are the awarding of credits, usually on a course-by-course basis. Students who have attended an accredited post-secondary institution or have completed Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Higher Level courses may request transfer credits. This request must be initiated by the student, OCAD U does not automatically assess transfer credit. Those who receive transfer credit will avoid repeating course material already completed.

Students admitted in September 2020 or later have two years from the time they are admitted to OCAD U to request transfer credits. Students submit only one request during their time at OCAD U. We will review your transcripts for relevant courses that could fulfill program requirements at all year levels.
Final Request Deadline: August 31 two years following your admission date (e.g. for September 2020 entry students, the final deadline is August 31, 2022). Late requests will not be accepted.
Per Term Deadlines: These are deadlines we recommend you follow to give us enough time to review your request before the start of each term. If we receive your request after the deadlines below, you might not receive your results in time to replace courses you drop based on receiving transfer credits, which could include losing tuition refund money.
August 1 for Fall term courses
November 15 for Winter term courses
March 31 for Spring/Summer term courses

How to Request Transfer Credits

1) Read the guidelines & FAQ: Transfer Credit Guidelines (PDF) and Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

2) Fill out the online form and submit it by the deadline: Transfer Credit Request Form (save your own copy after submitting it).

3) Collect your documents: Order your post-secondary transcripts if you have not sent them to us already. You do not need to send transcripts again unless you have an updated transcript to provide. For IB or AP courses, we require the official exam scores from those organizations. Have course syllabi ready. If we require them, we will request them by email.

Transfer Credit Appeal & Reassessment Requests

Students may appeal transfer credit decisions by submitting additional information with a formal request for reconsideration no later than 6 months after the date on their transfer credit results letter. Students who officially change their major may also request a reassessment of their transfer credits no later than 6 months after starting the new major. Please complete the online Transfer Credit Appeal & Reassessment Request Form.

Questions? Contact transfercredit [at] (transfercredit[at]ocadu[dot]ca) or 416-977-6000 Ext. 308 or watch a recording of Request Transfer Credits at OCAD Info Session here.

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. 

Questions? Contact the regservices [at] (Office of the Registrar) for more information on Course Challenge.​

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.​

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.​

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 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.