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Registration for the Winter 2020 semester begins soon.  Watch your email for more details.
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Early Childhood Education (Certificate)

Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Credits: 46.0
Length: Three semesters
Campuses: Coquitlam
Credential: Certificate
Admission Type: Limited enrolment
Learning Format: Full-time, Part-time
Offered: Fall
program overview
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Certificate Program prepares students to become qualified Early Childhood Educators who contribute to the well-being of children, families and their community. The program integrates theoretical material with laboratory and practicum experience to give graduates the skills and knowledge to work with newborns through to children eight years of age. Students learn to assess and guide child development, promote health and nutrition, communicate and collaborate with children and caregivers, and manage a child care setting. 

ECE certification allows graduates to apply for a provincial licence to practice as an Early Childhood Educator, while continuing to study part-time to earn an ECE Diploma in Special Needs. Upon earning the diploma, graduates can apply for a provincial licence to practice as a Special Needs Educator. Graduates may also choose to return for a post-diploma Certificate in Infant and Toddler Care.
curriculum framework

Graduation Requirements:

  • Successful completion of 46 credits
  • 25% (12 credits) of all coursework must be completed at Douglas College

Course Requirements:

Aboriginal Stream Students: Completion of the CFCS Aboriginal Stream courses noted below will exempt you from completing the courses noted with a (+) 

Course Number Course Title Credits
Year I
CFCS 1110 (+) Introduction to Community 3.00
ECED 1100 Growth and Development: Infants and Toddlers (Introduction) 3.00
ECED 1122 Health, Safety and Nutrition in ECE Settings 1.50
Select one course from the following two options:
ECED 1121 (+) Transforming Teaching: Observing and Documenting the Learning and Care of Infants and Toddlers 3.00
CFCS 1160 (+) Introduction to Professional Practice - Teaching and Learning 3.00
Select one course from the following two options:
CMNS 1110 Workplace Writing for CFCS 3.00
ENGL 1130 Academic Writing 3.00
CFCS 1221 Wellness: Self and Professional Practice 1.50
ECED 1200 Growth and Development: Preschool Years 3.00
ECED 1211 Professional Growth and Communication 3.00
ECED 1220 Methods for Inclusive Play-Based Programs for Pre-School Children 3.00
ECED 1231 ECE Curriculum I 3.00
ECED 1282 (+) ECE Practicum I 3.50
Year I Total Credits   30.50
Year II
*ECED 2300 Growth and Development: Early School Years 3.00
*ECED 2312 (+) Perspectives on Families 1.50
ECED 2320 Methods for Inclusive Play-Based Programs for Young Children 3.00
ECED 2331 ECE Curriculum II 3.00
ECED 2382 (+) ECE Practicum II 3.50
ECED 2330 (+) Change and Development: Families 1.50
Year II Total Credits   15.50

CFCS Aboriginal Stream (+)

Students in the Aboriginal Stream will complete one practicum (4.5 credits) and the four following courses:
CFCS 1112 Working in Communities (rather than the equivalent course CFCS 1110) 3.00
CFCS 1142 Introduction to Aboriginal Child, Youth and Family Work (rather than the equivalent course ECED 1121 or CFCS 1160) 3.00
CFCS 2212 Aboriginal Children, Youth and Families: Transforming Legislation and Policies (Elective course) 3.00
CFCS 2332 Strengthening the Family Spirit - Working from Aboriginal Perspectives with Elders’ Teachings (rather than the equivalent course ECED 2330 and 2312) 3.00

* Students are required to achieve a "C" grade or better in the courses ECED 2300 and ECED 2312 before they will be permitted to register in fourth semester ECE courses and for graduation purposes.

career transfer pathways
Graduates with an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Certificate can apply for a provincial licence to practice as an Early Childhood Educator, while continuing to study part-time to earn an ECE Diploma in Special Needs. Upon earning the diploma, graduates can apply for a provincial licence to practice as a Special Needs Educator. Graduates may also choose to return for a post-diploma Certificate in Infant and Toddler Care.
admission requirements

Applicants must meet the admission requirements listed below:

  • General College Admission Requirements
  • Be age 18 by December 31st of the year you enter the program.
  • Successfully participate in a formal orientation and selection process to determine suitability and readiness for training. Suitability is determined on the basis of an overview of an applicant's emotional stability, physical health, formal education, the ability to work in a team setting and life experience.
  • At the time of the required ECE Program Selections Event two letters of reference from individuals who are not related to you (character references from reputable community members and/or individuals familiar with your experience in working with young children). Reference letters should not be written by the person who completes your volunteer verification form. If you have an ECE basic license to practice, you would complete a work history form which includes references.
  • Complete and show evidence of 50 hours of supervised volunteer or work experience in a licensed group ECE-related setting. Preferred experience: work with children from birth to age six. The 50 hours documentation of volunteer or work experience must be complete and submitted before the time of the personal suitability interview. Your readiness to enrol in the program will be determined by the faculty selection team based upon specific criteria.
  • Attend and participate in a personal interview with ECE faculty.
  • Complete a Criminal Record Check (information will be provided by the Office of the Registrar).
  • Complete a medical declaration or assessment indicating a satisfactory level of physical and emotional health. The workload of the programs and the close contact with individuals in practical settings require students to be in good mental and physical health.
  • NOTE:  Applicants who have completed 9 or more post-secondary credits must be in good academic standing (with a minimum GPA of 1.5) for admission to any CFCS program.

Early Childhood Education Certificate Part-time Program – Aboriginal Stream Applicants must also:

  • Complete a program-specific application form.

Note: Priority will be given to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and to those who work for Aboriginal child, youth and family serving agencies. Applicants will participate in an individual or group interview to determine suitability for admission into Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Studies Stream.

Preferential Admissions
Admission to programs within the Faculty of Child, Family and Community Studies is contingent upon availability of seats and applicant ranking as determined by a process of selective admission evaluation. 

To be considered for a seat in the program, applicants must meet all admission criteria. The selective admission process uses a structured format to evaluate all applicants in relation to the admission criteria established for the program. 

Following this review, applicants are ranked according to the degree to which they have met the admission criteria and their demonstration of communication skills, motivation to enter the program and knowledge of the demands of the profession. 

NOTE: Applicants are advised to meet all admission criteria as early as possible to demonstrate preparedness and motivation for obtaining a seat in the program.

program cost

You can get an average cost for your program - tuition and student fees, books, uniforms, lab fees etc - on the Program Cost page. 

Only programs approved for student loan funding are listed on the Program Cost page. For all other programs, refer to the Tuition Fee page.

curriculum guidelines

Program Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this program and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the program, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

The CFCS Aboriginal Stream offers four courses and a practicum where you can earn credits towards a Child and Youth Care Diploma, or a Classroom and Community Support Diploma, or an Early Childhood Education Certificate. 

Courses are taught by First Nations and Métis faculty with elders' support, and have been developed with the guidance of our partners at Vancouver Native Health, Elders and our Advisory Circle members. For more information see the CFCS Aboriginal stream department page

With what age-group will I be working?

ECE practitioners work with children from birth to eight years of age. The ECE Program focuses on this age-group.

How do the full-time and part-time programs differ?

In the full-time program:

  • you will take five or six courses each semester
  • the first three semesters are day classes, some diploma courses are held in the evening in the fourth term
  • certificate work can be completed in three semesters and diplomas completed in four semesters
  • you are guaranteed a seat in each course for the first three semesters
  • all courses are offered at the Coquitlam Campus

In the part-time program:

  • you will take the same courses as the full-time students over a three year schedule
  • courses are held in the evening or on Saturdays, during the day
  • you will take approximately half of the full-time course load
  • you will graduate in three to four years, depending on your course load
  • all courses are offered at the Coquitlam Campus
  • the entrance requirements are the same as for the full-time program

Can I receive credit for work experience?

If you have skills and knowledge that apply to early childhood education, the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition Service (PLAR) can help you identify, document and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and abilities you have acquired on the job (workplace learning) or through life experiences.

Once your learning in a particular field of study is identified and documented, you may apply to have your knowledge, skills and abilities assessed for possible academic credit.

For information on ECE PLAR contact Kathy Price, 604 527 5481,

Explain the work experience requirements and how they differ?

50 hours of volunteer or paid work experience

Before entering the ECE program you are required to complete 50 hours of paid or volunteer work experience with groups of children between birth and eight years of age. This requirement serves two purposes:

  • It gives you the opportunity to assess your interest in pursuing this program by acquainting you with some of the realities of working in the field of early childhood education.
  • It gives your work supervisor(s), through the letter of reference, an opportunity to comment on your personal suitability and potential for training in early childhood education.

500 hours of work experience

When you apply for your provincial licences after receiving your diploma, you must provide evidence of 500 hours of work experience, either paid or volunteer. Practicums do not count towards these hours. The Ministry of Children and Family Development - Child Care branch has details for early childhood educators about the work experience licence requirement.

Where can I do my work experience hours?

You can work anywhere that there are children - we want to make sure that you know what it's like to work with groups of children and are familiar with the activities, noise, stress, excitement of fun that this work entails. Your work experience can be in a parks and recreation program, a preschool, sunday school, kindergarten, family daycare or a combination of any of these.

What is a practicum?

Practicums are part of the ECE program. You'll be placed in child care centres and preschools and given assignments to complete. You are expected to practice the knowledge and skills learned in other courses, participate in a comprehensive evaluation, and will receive a (Mastery or Non-Mastery) grade at completion.

Note: practicum hours cannot be included as part of the 500 hours of work experience required of ECE graduates by the provincial government for a licence to practice.

How long will it take me to complete my program?

Full-time students can complete their diplomas in two years, while part-time students can complete the program in four years.

Students in the full-time program can also complete their certificates in less time by attending two consecutive fall semesters and one winter semester. There are limited course offerings in the summer.

Can I transfer my ECE Certificate from another post-secondary institution and complete an ECE Diploma at Douglas College?

Students with ECE Certificates from early childhood education programs approved by the Child Care branch (Ministry of Children and Family Development) can transfer 30 credits toward their Douglas College ECE Diploma.

For more information, see the Transfer Credit section of the Douglas College Calendar.

Can I get university transfer credit for my Diploma?

Your Douglas College ECE diploma will transfer to several other post-secondary institutions. See the Career Pathways tab for more detail.

What kind of work will I be eligible to do when I graduate from the program?

Certificate and Diploma graduates will be eligible to work in provincially licensed preschool and child care centres once they become Registered Early Childhood Educators.

Diploma graduates who have completed the Infant/Toddler Stream will be eligible to work in provincially licensed infant and toddler centres as Registered Infant/Toddler Educators.

Diploma graduates who have completed the Special Needs Stream will be eligible to work as Special Needs Educators.

Some of our graduates work in preschool recreation programs. Other students open Family Child Care Centres.

Can I work in child care centres before completing my Diploma?

Yes, students who have been accepted into the ECE Program and are taking courses each semester can be hired in child care centres as assistants after completion of specified courses. We strongly recommend that full time students do not work more than a few hours a week during a semester of studies.

Are graduates required to register with provincial licensing (Child Care branch of the Ministry of Children and Family Development) before working in child care centres?

Yes, completion of a program in Early Childhood Education from Douglas College is the first step in becoming a Certified Early Childhood Educator in British Columbia.

Licence requirements can be found at the Child Care branch of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Where can I go for more information?

Full & Part-time program: ECE Instructional Facilitator, Zebeen Panju, 604-527-5163 or

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition: PLAR Facilitator, Kathy Price, 604-527-5481, or

Post-Basic, Re-entry students, ECE Registry referrals: ECE Program Coordinator, Kathy Price,

upcoming info sessions
Tuesday 5:00 PM January 28, 2020 COQ room: #Atrium register»
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