New Prerequisites Required to Write the NKE Exam in 2021

*Article updated on January 8, 2021

Building from the results of the 2013 Professional Practice Analysis, CPHR Canada has been working collaboratively with the other member associations throughout Canada to introduce further enhancements to the CPHR designation.

With the goal of raising the bar for academic comprehension and establishing a standard for educational requirements, CPHR Canada has added a new requirement that’s applicable for anyone writing the National Knowledge Exam (NKE), starting this year (January, 2021). This is being done to build upon credibility of the CPHR designation and ensure that all designates have the same base knowledge in each of the nine core competencies of human resources. 

Anyone wishing to write the NKE who is following pathway one & two to earn the CPHR designation will be required to complete the nine foundational HR courses offered by CPHR Canada in partnership with Captus Press Inc. These nine foundational courses meet the CPHR Competency Framework.

Pathway one requirements currently state that a person can have a bachelor degree in any field or discipline, three years of applied HR experience within the past 10 years and successfully passing the NKE to earn the CPHR designation. Pathway two requirements currently state that a person does not need a degree or diploma in any field or discipline, eight years of applied HR experience within the past 10 years and successfully passing the NKE to earn the CPHR designation. 

There are also three other pathways in which a person can earn the CPHR designation without writing the NKE. These include the Accredited pathway, the Masters pathway and the Executive Level pathway. For more info on these options please visit the CPHR BC & Yukon website. 

Individuals who have not graduated from a CPHR Canada member association’s Post-Secondary Institution Accreditation Program, or have not covered the below courses in an equivalent program, and wish to write the NKE will be required to enroll in the nine accredited HR courses offered by CPHR Canada in partnership with Captus Press Inc. These nine foundational courses meet the CPHR Competency Framework.

CPHR Academic Program and Course Descriptions

CPHR Canada is offering the following list of semester-length courses:

  • Accounting & Financial Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Industrial Relations
  • Organizational Behaviour
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Strategic Compensation
  • Strategic Human Resources Planning
  • Training and Development

Click here to read the course descriptions.

In each course, students are required to access multimedia online lectures, study readings in the assigned textbook(s), participate in interactive discussion boards with their fellow students and the instructor, submit midterms or assignments, and write a proctored final examination.

Other Key Details

  • Past Education – If you have successfully completed any courses that are equivalent to any of the listed courses offered, you may be able to transfer credits.
  • General Graduates from an Accredited School – If you are a graduate from a post-secondary institution and not enrolled/did not graduate through one of CPHR Canada’s Accredited HR Programs, you will still need to meet the pre-course requirements.
  • Writing the NKE after 2021 – Starting January 1, 2021, you will need to prove that you meet the educational requirements in order to write the NKE; therefore, if you plan to enroll in the May 26 and 27 2021 NKE, the deadline is April 2, 2021. Please ensure that you have successfully completed all nine accredited HR courses offered by CPHR Canada or other post secondary courses previously approved by CPHR BC & Yukon.
  • List of Approved Schools and Courses – Captus Press has created a PLAR equivalency database that lists courses from post-secondary institutions across BC and Canada that are equivalent to the CPHR Canada required courses. You can access this database to self-assess.
  • How To Verify the Courses You’ve Taken – Once your PLAR has been verified/approved or completed course requirement through Captus Press, members will need to inform the registrar and provide proof so that they can be allowed to register for the National Knowledge Exam. .
  • How To Verify ‘Other’ Courses You Have Taken – If your coursework is not in the pre-approved database you would need to apply for a Prior Learning Assessment (PLAR) through Captus Press. Captus Press would perform your assessment and notify CPHR BC & Yukon of the results. There are fees associated with this assessment and you can contact Captus Press directly for more details.

For more information please visit CPHR BC & Yukon. 



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  1. Sam Martorana March 6, 2020 at 1:56 pm · · Reply

    Any indication as to how much these courses will cost?

  2. Jessica McHaffie January 22, 2021 at 1:58 pm · · Reply

    The courses look to be $400 + books so one would be out nearly $5000 dollars before writing the NKE

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