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2023-2024 Academic Calendar

Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma

Location(s): Chetwynd, ​Dawson Creek, ​Fort Nelson, ​Fort St. John, ​Tumbler Ridge, and Online

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. 

Intakes 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.

Intake 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.

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.

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 or consultants, family resource centre coordinators, child care resource and referral consultants/co-ordinators, licensing officers, researchers, or instructors.


Dawson CreekFallCohort
Fort St. JohnFallCohort
Fort NelsonFallCohort
Tumbler RidgeFallCohort


62 credits (1370 hours), minimum.

This is a two year program taken over four semesters with minimum of 15 credits per semester.  Part-time studies will take longer.

The NLC ECEC Diploma program typically may be completed over a two-year period of full-time studies that may include Spring and Summer semesters/terms. Part-time study is also an option for distance/online and on campus study only. Work Integrated Learning is a full time study option only. 

For both full- and part-time students, program completion time may vary depending on the availability of courses and on individual course selection.

Estimated Program Fees

Program fee type: Academic

Costs indicated are estimates for a full-time course load.

Book, instruments, supplies, uniforms/clothing and third-party fees are additional.

Domestic Fees

TuitionStudent FeesInstruction-related
Fees (includes GST)
Year 1$ 3,581.40$ 149.76$ 978.39$ 4,709.55
Year 2 (estimated)$ 3,820.16$ 152.16$ 978.39$ 4,950.71

International Fees

TuitionStudent FeesInstruction-related
Fees (includes GST)
Medical Insurance
Year 1$ 11,580.00$ 149.76$ 978.39$ 828.00
Year 2 (estimated)$ 13,120.00$ 155.20$ 978.39$ 828.00

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Admission Requirements

English Requirement

For applicants from countries that practice Standard Written English, one of the following:

  • English Studies 12, or equivalent with a C grade or higher
  • English First Peoples 12, or equivalent with a C grade or higher
  • ENGL 050, or equivalent with a C grade or higher
  • ENGL 099, or equivalent with a C grade or higher
  • Any university-level English course with a C grade or higher
  • NLC Writing Assessment with placement at the college level (100)

For all other applicants, one of the following:

  • IELTS result with an overall score of 6.0 or higher with no band less than 6.0

Dual credit students:

  • May submit secondary school transcripts indicating successful completion of English 11 and proof of enrollment in an acceptable Grade-12-level English course with an interim grade of “C” or higher, but must complete Grade 12-level English prior to registration.  

Educacentre students:

  • English requirement is replaced by successful completion of the French language test at a C (60%) or higher

Additional Requirements

  • Completed ECEC Entrance/Advising Questionnaire)  (en Français)  
  • Applicants to the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) cohorts must submit a completed Employer Agreement Form indicating a mentor Educator with an active basic 5 year ECE certification from the BC ECE Registry. (WIL applicants only).
  • 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 Requirements

  • A clearance letter from the Criminal Records Review Program (CRRP), for a Schedule “B” Criminal Record Check (CRC), WORKS WITH Children or WORKS WITH Children and Vulnerable Adults. For information and regulations, see Criminal Records Checks.

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. Students are required to have a computer (laptop or other mobile device) with minimum computer requirements.
  3. 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 – Human Development II.
  4. This program is affiliated with the ECE Registry.  This program is also affiliated with Collège Éducacentre (CE) for delivery to French-speaking students. 

Program Requirements

Residency Requirement25% (4 theory courses and 1 practicum course) of all courses must be completed at Northern Lights College
Minimum Grade Requirements2.00 Grade Point Average (GPA); minimum grade of C in all courses

Typical Year One

Typical Year Two

Additional Notes

  • 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 
  • Students planning on transferring to further post-secondary programs are encouraged to complete ENGL 100 – Academic Writing in addition to the diploma requirements.


Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care