Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) Program 

Applicants educated internationally or in Canada, who have not graduated from a naturopathic program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), may be accepted for registration if they have a combination of education, experience, and demonstrated competency which is substantially equivalent to the education and examinations completed by a CNME-accredited program graduate. 

The College’s Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) program allows non-CNME program graduates to be assessed with the same objective competency criteria of all applicants, regardless of where they received their naturopathic training. PLAR applicants will be asked to demonstrate their level of knowledge, skill and judgment in naturopathy to determine their readiness to practice the profession in Ontario safely, competently and ethically.  

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The Basic Principles of PLAR

The College adheres to the following basic principles when assessing PLAR applicants:

  • All applicants for registration are assessed using the same objective criteria, which reviews an applicant’s competency to practice the profession.
  • Judgments regarding the equivalence of education and experience are based upon criteria which are relevant to the practice of naturopathy in Ontario, and which protect the public.
  • The College supports the principles set out by the Office of the Fairness Commissioner, and conducts its assessment of applicants from non- accredited institutions accordingly.
  • Applicants from non-accredited institutions are not required to meet different or higher standards than those required of applicants from CNME-accredited educational programs.

For information about how to start the PLAR process, please click here.

The Stages of PLAR

The PLAR process is designed to best approximate the learning, development and assessment tools used in CNME-accredited naturopathy programs and at entry-to-practise. The philosophy is that an applicant must first demonstrate the fundamental academic understanding of the profession and then be able to apply that understanding in practice.

Stage 1 - Assessment of Formal Education

Applicants must submit official diplomas and transcripts to a College-approved credential evaluation agency. This third-party agency confirms the authenticity of the documents, as well as verifying the program, year of study, issuing institution, and primary language of instruction. If the education was completed outside of Canada, the education is also assessed to determine whether it is equivalent/comparable to an education obtained at a Canadian institution.

Stage 2 - Paper-based Assessment

The College assesses the applicant’s education and experience to determine whether that knowledge and experience is equivalent to that of an individual who has successfully completed a CNME-accredited program. 

Stage 3 - Written Examination #1

Applicants who successfully complete stage 2 are eligible to sit the first of two written examinations. This examination tests the applicant’s knowledge of biomedical sciences necessary for the practice of naturopathy.

Stage 4 - Demonstration-based Assessment

Stage 4 evaluates those competencies essential to ensure safe and competent practice which cannot be assessed solely via a paper-based assessment or paper-based knowledge test. Three evaluation tools are used in Stage 4: an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), a structured interview, and a case study.

Stage 5 - Written Examination #2

Applicants who successfully complete Stage 4 are then eligible to sit the second of the two written examinations. This examination will test an applicant’s knowledge of the core clinical sciences and the application of their knowledge in clinical practice. 

At the conclusion of each stage of the PLAR program, an applicant is evaluated to determine whether they are eligible to move forward to the next stage, or, in the case of the final stage, to move forward to sit the College's Ontario Clinical (Practical) Examinations and Jurisprudence Examination and complete the Registration application process.

For more information about the stages of PLAR, including costs, please click here.  


PLAR applicants who are deemed substantially non-equivalent during the PLAR process are referred to a panel of the Registration Committee for deliberation. If an applicant is not satisfied with a decision made by the panel, they may appeal the decision by contacting the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) for a review or to hold a hearing of their application for registration.

The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board may be reached at:

151 Bloor Street West, 9th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 2T5 Canada
Tel: (416) 327-8512 
Fax: (416) 327-8524