Frequently Asked Questions


There are currently three options available:

1. Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma (in Nanaimo)

This program enables students to complete an ECEC Diploma from VIU. Once they have completed 500 hours of work experience, graduates can also apply for their Early Childhood Educator (ECE), Infant Toddler Educator (ITE), and Special Needs Educator (SNE) Certificates from the ECE Registry.

2. Early Childhood Education and Care Certificate (online)

This program enables students to complete an ECEC Certificate from VIU. In addition, graduates can apply for their Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Certificate from the ECE Registry.

3. Early Childhood Education Assistant Course (online)

This course (ECEC 110 or ECEC 130) enables students to apply for their Early Childhood Educator Assistant (ECE-A) Certificate from the ECE Registry. Students are encouraged to continue taking additional courses to become a qualified Early Childhood Educator.

VIU may offer additional ECEC courses, depending on community needs and funding. This includes ECE work-integrated learning (WIL) courses, Infant Toddler Educator (ITE) courses (online), Special Needs Educator (SNE) courses (online), and other special deliveries.

If you wish to apply to the ECEC Diploma program at Nanaimo campus, go to Education Planner and select: Vancouver Island University, Undergraduate programs, Human Services, Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma:

If you wish to apply to the ECEC Online Certificate program, go to Education Planner and select: Vancouver Island University, Undergraduate programs, Human Services, Early Childhood Education and Care Online Certificate:

If you wish to take one ECEC Assistant course (online), go to Education Planner and select: Vancouver Island University, Undergraduate programs, Professional Development and Training, Early Childhood Education and Care Assistant (online course):

Each year the ECEC program intakes 25 full time first year students and 3-4 part-time. Transfer students with required pre-requisites are welcome to apply to 2nd year as full or part-time students.

The average class size is between 22 and 28 students depending on the number of part-time students.

Yes, each semester there are some seats available in selected courses to accommodate part-time students.

Typically, there are about 50 applicants to the ECEC program each year.

Once accepted to the program, you will be required to assemble further documentation. Applicants receive additional information about this required documentation from the Admissions and from the ECEC Program Advisor. Primarily this documentation is needed to support placement in practica.

You can apply according to the dates of application listed within the calendar. Your application will not be considered complete until you provide official interim or final grades for high school, letters of reference and a resume by the date specified in your letter from the Admissions office and been interviewed.

It may be possible, depending on your particular practical and educational experiences, to apply on an individual basis to undertake a Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).

Students are selected based on the status of their academic record; the information compiled in their application file; letters of reference including one submitted from the childcare program in which they have completed their 60 hours of volunteer or paid work; and the group interview process.

Students wishing to increase their chances of admission should ensure their application is complete and current. It is also recommended that they take courses for which there are no prerequisites such as English 115, 125 and/or Psychology 131, 132, or ECEC online courses. For online courses, contact Deirdre Godwin. Also, completing relevant course work in other related areas such as Child and Youth Care, Community Support Worker, or ECEC from another institution will help.

There are students entering the program who range in age from 18 to 45 years.

Applicants are usually informed of admission decisions in late spring (April/May). Some seats may be offered conditionally based on successful completion of your pre-requisites. You will receive a letter from Admissions/Registration letting you know the decision. If you have been accepted/conditionally accepted, you will be instructed to pay a tuition deposit (commitment fee) by a certain date to hold your seat.

Typically, group interviews are held in March (for applicants who have met all admission requirements by the end of February) or early April.

The interview is intended as an opportunity for faculty to be introduced to students and for students to become more familiarized with the ECEC program. Typically, there are seven students included in each interview. Applicants from out of region may make arrangements for a phone or Zoom interview.

Yes, students can apply the next year. Usually, the information in the original file can be transferred to the new application. Students can provide any updated information that they feel is relevant.

As a part-time student. Yes, please contact the ECEC program advisor, or VIU Advising Centre for information on courses you may be eligible to take.


If you become an Early Childhood Educator, you will join the ranks of over 15,000 registered Early Childhood Educators and 6,000 Early Childhood Educator Assistants in British Columbia.

It’s a great time to enter the field of Early Childhood. ECE is in the top 10 job categories expected to be in the highest demand in BC in the next decade. It is a flexible occupation that can lead to numerous career options and serve as a solid base to gain additional education and training for even more options.

Classes are small (i.e., generally between 22 and 28), and we have excellent teachers with current practice skills. ECEC training in BC is well recognized nationally. There are a wide variety of practice agencies in group early learning facilities and in-home early learning programs. The cost of living in Nanaimo is considerably lower than in Victoria or the lower BC mainland.

Our Nanaimo campus on Vancouver Island is spectacular. The University is set on a hill overlooking the Strait of Georgia and the mainland mountains. Beautiful scenery, Japanese gardens, student housing and the Nanaimo Art Gallery are noteworthy features.
Our mild winters and sunny summers make Vancouver Island a highly desirable place to live. Beautiful waterfront and green parklands offer endless opportunities for kayaking, sailing, hiking, beachcombing, sightseeing, island exploration and recreation.

Information regarding tuition costs is available in the Vancouver Island University Calendar. The ECEC department does have a lab/supply fee of $120 per year. This fee covers costs of purchasing supplies for art activities and class handouts. Other costs such as texts and student materials are estimated at $1,000 per academic year.

Yes. Each semester of full time study is 15 or more credits. For information on student loans, see: Financial Aid and Awards. Full time ECEC students will attend classes until the first week of June. This is important information for funders to know.

ECE Education Support Fund

Since 2018, the Province has provided funding through the Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the Government of Canada to the Early Childhood Educators of BC to administer the ECE Education Support Fund. This fund provides bursaries to students studying in ECE programs at recognized post-secondary institutions.

Other education funding

There are many other government and non-government funding programs to help students complete their ECE education and ensure employers and communities have a pool of educated professionals to draw from.

Learn more about other funding programs:


Yes, as students successfully completing their courses, they are able to apply to successive levels of Certification through the Early Childhood Provincial Registry. Students are assisted through the process while in the program.

Yes, students successfully completing the ECEC Diploma program will be eligible to apply for admission to the Child and Youth Care Degree program, the Bachelor of Education, and the Bachelor of Social Work at Vancouver Island University.

Program Format

The ECEC program has prescribed courses and one elective, see the Program Outline for details.

The schedule varies. Students are in classes or in early learning, child care practicum placements 4-5 days per week. The program runs for 9.5 months of the year, with 2.5 months’ vacation. There are 2 four-month semesters (fall and spring semesters), and 1 two-month semester (intersession) each year. This 10-month period of school also impacts the amount of employment that students are able to manage during the year.

Classes are on the Nanaimo campus. There may be some courses that are offered online and on the Cowichan Campus. Practicum locations range from Cobble Hill to Qualicum and Parksville.
There are times when our students are able to travel to international locations for a practicum in year two. These opportunities are determined by our ECEC Faculty committee. See information on VIU Education Abroad.

Students can expect a minimum one hour of homework per one hour of classroom time and up to three hours a course when assignments are due.

Students with learning disabilities should contact Accessibility Services. Students with disabilities have successfully completed this program.

Certain skills and abilities are required to succeed in the early childhood education and care field. These skills and abilities are described on the WorkBC Early Childhood Educators and Assitants website to determine if early childhood education and care is the right choice for you.

Students complete a total of 425 hours of practica throughout the three semesters in year one; and additional 205 hours in each of Infant Toddler and Diverse Abilities practica in year two.

Employment Outcomes

Graduates are in demand to work in licensed child care settings such as Infant/Toddler, Group Care, StrongStart, Young Parent, Supported Child Development, Preschool, Child Care Resource and Referral Programs, and Child and Family Service Agencies. Certified educators with strong references will find employment anywhere in British Columbia; the Vancouver Island University credential is often accepted in other parts of Canada as well as internationally. Refer to the Career map for additional employment options.

More questions?

Contact the ECEC Program Advisor