Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma

Program Description

Early Childhood Educators (ECE) in British Columbia work in a variety of settings supporting the education and care of children ages birth – 12 years, including support for their families. ECE's use their specialized education in early learning to create and maintain an inclusive and safe environment that encourages learning, while being responsive to the children's needs and interests. The daily work can be both physically and mentally challenging, wellness in both of these areas are needed to maintain safety for both the children and the ECE. Working within diverse communities and programs, they use reflective and collaborative practices to encourage children's understanding and engagement with the world.

The program prepares students to apply for BC ECE Registry certification (including Early Childhood Educator Assistant, Early Childhood Educator, Infant and Toddler Educator, Special Needs Educator) at various points in the study period.
Students will complete practica in early learning programs where opportunities to explore diverse experiences and philosophies can be achieved. Students in the NLC northern catchment area and enrolled in face to face instruction will be placed in practicum settings by the instructor. Students located outside of the NLC northern catchment area, or enrolled in the provincial online program, will set up their own practicum placements. Those who are unable to locate suitable practica placements in their home community may need to relocate to another community for one or more of the practica. Many theory courses also require access to children ages 0-5 years to complete assignments.

NLC has been offering a BC province-wide, exemplary online learning model for ECE students since 1998. Choosing the NLC ECEC Diploma connects students to instructors with various backgrounds, all rooted in the foundations of ECE practice. The faculty's innovative thinking offers learners access to creative experiences and practices that align with the visionary principles of the field. NLC continues to respond to specific  community needs in BC through partnerships and one-time-only offerings in various communities. As a program, faculty are focused on following pedagogical commitments connected to ethical and progressive practices.

Career Prospects

-Early Childhood Educators with BC ECE Registry certification* may be employed as educators, supervisors, managers, directors, or administrators of early care and learning programs. 
-Early Childhood Educators have also found employment as supported child development workers, holiday destination children's program workers, nannies, and respite providers.
-With additional relevant education (e.g., a Child and Youth Care Degree, Social Work Degree, or an Early Childhood Education graduate degree), Early Childhood Educators may find work as child development counsellors, family resource centre coordinators, child care resource and referral consultants/co-ordinators, licensing officers, ECE researchers, or ECE instructors.  Please consult with the ECEC Department Chairs for additional information.
Students planning on transferring to further post-secondary programs are encouraged to complete ENGL 100 Academic Writing in addition to the Diploma requirements.
*For up-to-date information on BC ECE Registry requirements, please visit their website.


Location: Distance/Online: Through the use of webinar and online delivery students remain in their home communities and complete practicum placements in early learning environments approved by NLC that provide opportunities to explore diverse experiences and philosophies. Students unable to locate suitable practica placements in their home community may need to relocate to another community for one or more of the practica.
On Campus: Face-to-face course offerings are available within the Northern Lights College region or other provincial regions depending on student enrollment or special- project funding.
Students and/or their employers are advised to review NLC’s ECEC Admissions web page or contact ECECPracticaPlanning@nlc.bc.ca for more information on workplace practica options and criteria

Length: Completion of program requires 16 academic/theory courses (720 hours) and 4 practicum courses (650 hours) for a total of 1370 hours. 
Minimum of 48 theory course credits and 14 practicum credits, if full time, taken over 2 years.

Start: Fall, Winter, Spring

Fees: Current Fee Schedule

Need upgrading first? Start with NLC’s Career and College Preparation program.

Admission Requirements

1.  English - Domestic students and students from countries that practice Standard Written English must have official transcripts demonstrating that they have met one of the following English Requirements with a "C+" grade or higher: English Studies 12, English First Peoples 12, English 050, or English 099; alternatively, any university-level English course with a "C" grade or higher. Students who do not meet one of the above English requirements must complete the NLC Writing Assessment for appropriate course placement. 
Students who received their secondary education in a language other than Standard Written English require minimum IELTs Academic scores of 6.0 overall with no band less than 6.0.
2. Submission of a completed Entrance Questionnaire
3. For computer and internet requirments refer to the NLC Information Technology Minimum Computer Requirement page located at www.nlc.bc.ca/Services/Information-Technology/minPC
4. Applicants who hold an ECEA or ECE Certificate from the BC ECE Registry must provide a copy of the certificate.
5. All applicants currently residing outside of Canada and intending to study in Canada, must submit a Police Certificate (see Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) in English, for every country in which they have been a resident for the previous five years (not including Canada). The Police Certificate must be received before a Letter of Acceptance will be issued.

Post-Admission Requirement
Clearance letter from the Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General for a Schedule B Criminal Record Check (works with Children) or (works with Children and Vulnerable Adults) must be received prior to registration. Students who have completed a valid Schedule B CRC for another organization may share their results with Northern Lights College by completing the Sharing Form. Note that CRCs must be renewed if they expire before the program is completed.

Under no circumstances are students permitted to complete any practical work without having a CRC on file with NLC’s Office of the Registrar. Failure to ensure a valid CRC is on file with the Office of the Registrar may result in a requirement to withdraw from the program. Students are obligated to report any Schedule B criminal convictions that occur after they authorize a CRC but are still enrolled in NLC’s Early Childhood Education and Care Program.
Please see NLC's Criminal Record Check procedures for instructions on how to complete a CRC.

Important Notes

  1. The program is currently under review regarding eligibility for Canada Student Loans. Visit StudentAid BC to apply for financial assistance online.  Note that dual credit students are not eligible for Student Aid.
  2. The information on this program page is a summary of the official Program Completion Guide (effective September 2023) approved by NLC’s Education Council.  (Alternatively click for a PDF of  the current Program Completion Guide.)
  3. NLC’s Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma is available in French. For more information on delivery of the program in French, see Éducation à la petite enfance - Collège Éducacentre (educacentre.com).
  4. Program graduates of NLC's English version of the ECEC Diploma 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.
  5. 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://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/training-and-professional-development/become-an-early-childhood-educator
View the Early Childhood Education and Care Admissions Page

Do you need more information?


Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

One of the following:

Note: Graduates from NLC’s Education Assistant Certificate program who enroll in NLC’s Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma program are granted credit for ECED-109A and ECED-150