Program Information

  • Program Length
    8 Months
  • Credential
  • Location Offered
    Nanaimo, tiwšɛmawtxʷ (Powell River)

Certified Educational Assistants make a difference in the lives of people with special needs so they can have every opportunity to participate fully in our society, and access education and services that allow them to live to their fullest potential. VIU’s Education Assistant and Community Support program will get you ready for a rewarding career working with people of all ages who have mental, physical and emotional challenges.

This eight-month educational assistants’ certificate program prepares graduates for work in public and private schools, and in community and residential programs for people with disabilities. Students can study full- or part-time, and benefit from hands-on training with experienced instructors who care about your success.

Program Overview

Note: The Education Assistant and Community Support Certificate program was formerly called the School and Community Support Worker Certificate program.

This program includes both theoretical studies and practical applications for working with people who have disabilities, across the life span. The core and specialty courses provide students with the skills and knowledge to work in schools and community. The program is offered with courses rotated.

Acceptance into the program does not mean that students will be placed into a practicum. Students will be individually assessed as to their readiness for the practicums in terms of skills, knowledge and personal suitability. Placement into a practicum will be at the discretion of the program Chair.

Students who successfully complete the program will receive a Vancouver Island University certificate. This certificate may ladder into other Human Services diplomas and degrees.

Program Delivery

The Education Assistant and Community Support program is a certificate program delivered in both Nanaimo and Powell River. Part time students can be accommodated in this program. Although classroom-based in Nanaimo, both distance and local learners have the opportunity to complete the program through the tiwšɛmawtxʷ Campus (Powell River).

Recommendations for Admission

  • Volunteer or paid experience working with people who are mentally, physically or behaviourally challenged.

Notes on Admission

  • Fieldwork and/or practicums will require a satisfactory criminal record check prior to placement. Criminal Record Checks are requested through VIU. The Registration Centre at VIU will contact prospective students by mail regarding the requirements for a Criminal Record Check. Criminal Record Checks are processed through the Ministry according to the Criminal Records Review Act. A check completed through the RCMP is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Act. Students are advised that a criminal record may limit their practicum possibilities and their work opportunities in the Human Services field.
  • For admission to the program, applicants will be assessed on past academic achievement, related volunteer/paid employment, writing skills, and performance at an interview with faculty.
  • Applicants may be required to provide a letter from a family physician attesting to the applicant’s physical suitability to take the program.

Transfer Credit (from other institutions)

Vancouver Island University recognizes the academic knowledge and achievement of students who have undertaken post-secondary studies at other colleges, institutes, or universities. Credit is assigned on the basis of an official transcript, course outlines, and other supporting documentation. Transfer students must meet all of Vancouver Island University's admission requirements.

Student Transfer into Other Programs

Students who complete the Education Assistant and Community Support certificate will be able to bridge into other VIU diplomas and degrees such as the Social Services and Child and Youth Care diplomas, as well as the Bachelor of EducationBachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care degree.

Courses Offered *
One of:
CYC 152 - (Interpersonal Communication Skills in a Therapeutic Context) or,
ECEC 150 - (Interpersonal Communication: Theory and Practice) 
EACS 110 - (Foundations for Practice)3
EACS 130 - (Teaching and Learning Strategies)3
EACS 140 - (Understanding & Supporting Behaviour Across the Lifespan)3
EACS 150 - (Health and Wellness)3
EACS 160 - (Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology)3
EACS 170 - (Challenging Conditions)3
EACS 180 - (Practicum: School-Based)3

EACS 190 - (Practicum: Community-Based)


One of: 
ENGL 115 - (University Writing and Research)
ENGL 125 - (Literature and Culture)
ENGL 135 - (Literature and Criticism)
Total Credits30

* The order of courses delivered is subject to change.


The program prepares students to work in entry level positions as education assistants in public and private school systems and in community settings with people who have disabilities.

Domestic Fees

Tuition and Other Mandatory Student Fees

When applying to the program, applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee.

When applying to graduate, students will be charged a non-refundable graduation and alumni fee.

Some courses have additional fees to pay for extraordinary class–related expenses.

Fees per Program Amount
Tuition (30 credits x $166.40 per credit) 4,992.00
Student Activity fee (4% of tuition) 199.68
Student Services fee (30 credits x $7.35 per credit) 220.50
VIU Students' Union fee (9 months x $27.60 per month) 248.40
Health and Dental Plan fee ($265.00 per year) 265.00
Approximate cost for books and supplies 400.00

Students are responsible for travel and accommodation expenses for practicum.

The VIUSU Health and Dental Plan fee is assessed for all students enrolled in 6 credits or more per term, or in Trades/Vocational programs of 5 months or longer.  

All fees are subject to change without prior notice and are expected to increase by 2% each year on April 1.

Domestic (Canadian)

Program Start Date Accepting Applications Campus


Program Start Date Accepting Applications Campus