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Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma

Program Description

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Early Childhood Education and Care students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to work with young children and their families in diverse early learning settings in British Columbia. Students develop skills through courses and practica designed to integrate academic and practical experiences. This program may be completed on a part- or full-time basis. Students may complete the program within their own community through online delivery.

Students who complete the full NLC ECEC Diploma will be eligible to apply to the BC ECE Registry for both an Early Childhood Educator Certificate and an Infant and Toddler Educator (ITE) Certificate or a Special Needs Educator (SNE) Certificate, depending on their selection of a final practicum course. NLC diploma graduates may complete the alternate final practicum course as ongoing professional development in order to meet the educational requirements to apply for the remaining BC ECE Registry certificate to practice. After completing the first 15 courses (Terms, 1, 2 ,& 3) listed under “Courses” below, students may apply to the BC ECE Registry for an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Certificate.

The Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma program has multiple entry-points throughout the year, so applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. Typical application periods are as follows: June 1 for Fall (September) start; October 1 for Winter (January) start; and February 1 for Spring/Summer (May or July) start.

Career Prospects

Early Childhood Educator in a licensed group childcare centre or preschool, Program Supervisor, Assistant Director of a preschool or school age centre, Director of a preschool or school age centre, Nursery School Director, Family Child Care Provider, Child Development Counselor, Family Resource Centre Coordinator, Child Care Coordinator, ECE Researcher, Strong Start Facilitator, Daycare programs, Young Parent programs, Drop-In programs, Home Visit programs, Provincial Licensing Officer, Holiday Destination Children’s Program worker, Child Advocate, Nanny, or Respite Provider. Note that employment for some of these positions may require additional education.


Location: Online/Distributed Delivery

Length: The ECEC Diploma program may be completed over a two-year period of full-time studies that may include Spring and Summer semesters. Part-time study is also an option. For both full- and part-time students, program completion time may vary depending on the availability of courses and on individual course selection.

The program consists of 16 academic/ theory courses (720 hours) and 4 practica courses (650 hours) for a total of 1370 hours.

Start: September, January, May, July

Fees: Current Fee Schedule

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Admission Requirements

A. Standard admission requirements are as follows:

  1. Completion of a Northern Lights College Application Form and payment of the related fee.
  2. Copy of government-issued ID with current full legal name.
  3. Official transcripts from all secondary or post-secondary institutions attended, indicating successful completion of one of the following English courses with a “C” or higher: Grade 12 English, English Literature 12, English 12 First Peoples, English 050, or English 099. OR Any university-level English course with a C grade or higher. OR Completion of the NLC Writing Assessment. Performance on the NLC Writing Assessment is used to make recommendations about appropriate course placement.
  4. Submission of completed Program Questionnaire.
  5. Comprehensive letter stating background, interest, and goals in taking the program.
  6. Two current letters of reference written and dated within a year of application, attesting to personal suitability for working with young children.
  7. Current assurance of good health from a physician. The relevant form is included in the ECEC application package available on the program website.

B. On-Campus International Students:

  1. In lieu of Item A3 above, international students studying ECEC on an NLC campus through face-to-face or video-conference delivery require IELTs scores of 6.0 overall with no band less than 5.5. Any students with a score below 6.0 in writing will be required to take English 099 prior to beginning ECE course work

C. Dual credit students:

  1. In lieu of Item A3 above, dual credit students may submit secondary school transcripts indicating successful completion of English 11 and enrollment in an acceptable Grade-12-level English course with an interim grade of “C” or higher.

D. Students seeking an Early Childhood Educator Assistant (ECEA) Certificate from the BC ECE Registry:

  1. Item A3 above may be waived for applicants in this category; however, such applicants are advised to be aware of the standard requirement for Grade-12-Level English proficiency.
  2. In lieu of Item A5 above, applicants in this category merely need to indicate an intent to take HDEC102 or HDEC 103 for the purposes of acquiring an ECE Assistant Certificate to Practice from the BC ECE Registry.
  3. Students admitted under this category will be required to fulfill all standard admission criteria if they plan to enroll in additional diploma coursework.
    *Please consult the High School’s Dual Credit Coordinator or Counsellor to determine any additional prerequisites for individual courses.

Important Notes

  1. The program is eligible for Canada Student Loans. Visit StudentAid BC to apply for financial assistance online.
  2. Each student is required to authorize a Minister of Justice Criminal Record Check before participating in a practicum involving children or vulnerable adults.
    Under no circumstances will students be permitted to complete any practical work in a child care or school setting until NLC has received a clear Schedule B criminal record check.
    Students are obligated to report any Schedule B criminal convictions that occur after they authorize a Criminal Record Check but are still enrolled in the program. Failure to do so may result in immediate dismissal from the program.
    NLC eCRC information and Instructions
  3. Students complete practica within their own communities provided the options exist for acceptable placements. Students unable to locate suitable practicum placements in their own communities may need to relocate to another community for one or more of the practica.
  4. Please note the following application deadlines: June 1 for Fall (September) start; October 1 for Winter (January) start; and February 1 for Spring/Summer (May or July) start.
  5. The duration of study for the program will vary in length due to course offering schedules, student course selection, and student start dates, but may generally be completed in four semesters of full time studies.
  6. June 1 for Fall (September) start; October 1 for Winter (January) start; and February 1 for Spring/Summer (May or July) start.
  7. The duration of study for the program will vary in length due to course offering schedules and student course selection, but may be completed in four semesters of full time studies.
  8. The information on this program page is a summary of the official Program Completion Guide approved by NLC’s Education Council.
    Download the Program Completion Guide.
  9. Northern Lights College has partnered with Collège Éducacentre for delivery of the ECEC Diploma in French.
    For information on delivery of the program in French, please contact:
    Melanie Hotte, Student Advisor
    Collège Éducacentre
    604-708-5100 poste 1404
  10. Program graduates are eligible for direct admission into the Justice Institute of British Columbia’s

    Advanced Specialty Certificate in Community Care Licensing. Advanced standing is granted for HDEC 104.
  11. Completion of the ECEC program as described meets the educational requirements of the Ministry of Children and Family’s Early Childhood Educator Registry. However, additional profession-related requirements may apply. For more information and how to apply for ECE Registry certificates to practice, please visit: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/childcare/ece/ .


APPLY NOW to Northern Lights College for the Early Childhood Education and Care program

View the Early Childhood Education and Care Admissions Page

Do you need more information?

ECEC/EA Office: ecetadept@nlc.bc.ca

Our “virtual quilt” celebrates the needs and rights of all children http://vquilt.weebly.com/.


Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

ENGL 100 - 3 credits - Academic Writing is recommended for students wishing to ladder into further degree programs of Early Childhood Education.
Students are required to check course pre-requisites or co-requisites.
After completing the first 15 courses (Terms, 1, 2 ,& 3) listed under “Courses”, students may apply to the BC ECE Registry for an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Certificate

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