Credentials and credit transfers

B.C. has a world-class education system that provides you with incredible choice and flexibility.

Programs and credentials

English as a second language (ESL) programs

Learn how to speak, read and write English while exploring B.C., or send your children to study English in a welcoming community. English as a second language programs are offered by most schools in B.C., including:

  • public elementary and secondary schools;
  • independent elementary and secondary schools;
  • public post-secondary institutions; and
  • private post-secondary institutions (private institutions are not regulated by the government)

For more information on ESL programs in your area:

Kindergarten to Grade 12 programs

Elementary and secondary schools in B.C. offer programs that are flexible for international learners, depending on how long they wish to stay. These include:

  • B.C. Certificate of Graduation (or Dogwood Diploma)
  • English as a Second Language / English Language Learner programs
  • Various short- or long-term programs

Post-secondary programs

B.C.'s post-secondary institutions offer everything from short-term courses to four-year degree programs.

Career/trades/vocational programs

These programs are designed to prepare you for immediate employment in a specific occupation once you complete your training. For more information on career/trades/vocational programs and the post-secondary institutions that offer courses in this area please visit Trades Training BC.

Credentials awarded:

  • Foundation trade certificates - introduce you to a variety of trades training opportunities and are typically six to 12 months long.
  • Citation - formally recognizes a specific area of study. Most academic citations are made up of at least four courses.
  • Certificate - normally involves up to one year of full-time study. Academic certificates are typically made up of 30 credits or about 10 courses.
  • Diploma - normally involves two years of full-time study. Academic diplomas are usually made up of 60 credits or about 20 courses.

Degree programs

B.C. offers various levels of world class degrees such as associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and the highest level of academic achievement doctoral degree. For more information on degree programs contact your post-secondary school.

Credentials awarded:

  • Associate degree: - requires two years of university transfer course work (60 credits) in Arts or Sciences. BC universities guarantee students all 60 credits will be accepted for transfer.
  • Post-Baccalaureate or advanced diploma - enables diploma or undergraduate degree grads to gain greater specialization in their original area of study or gain core skills in a new field of study. Program length is typically eight months to two years. These diplomas are not considered graduate level studies.
  • Bachelor's degree - normally requires four years of academic course work. The program structure is designed to have you gain both breadth and depth in your studies. It is common to gain specialization in one subject area through a Major or Honours program.

Graduate programs at the Masters and Ph D levels

B.C. offers many world-renowned graduate programs that provide you with the opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills through a combination of course work and independent research under a faculty advisor.

Credentials awarded:

  • Masters degree - normally involves two years of full-time studies beyond an undergraduate degree. The degree offers you the opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills through a combination of course work and independent research under a faculty advisor. The research is presented in the form of a thesis.
  • Doctoral degree - normally involves at least two years of study beyond a master's degree. This degree is the highest level of academic achievement available to learners. It involves the completion of oral and written exams and original research presented in the form of a dissertation.

Transfer your credits

B.C.'s seamless transfer system allows you to move between any recognized public and private institution within B.C. and get credit for previous coursework without applying for changes to your study permit.

For example, if you do not meet all the admission requirements for a program at Institution A, you can complete up to two years credit at Institution B and then transfer to Institution A to finish your studies.

Visit to see which courses are tranferrable to the institution of your choice.

Transfer credits for Grade 12 graduation

Students who graduate from secondary school in B.C. receive a B.C. Certificate of Graduation (or Dogwood Diploma). This credential is recognized internationally and accepted by post-secondary institutions throughout North America, Asia and Europe.

Visit school district websites to learn about transferring credits towards B.C. graduation.

Transfer credits within Canada and the USA

If you are transferring credits to B.C. from another province or the USA:

  • Apply to the institution you are seeking to transfer to.
  • Arrange to have official transcripts sent directly to your new institution.
  • Once you have been accepted for admission check with your institution to see if your transcript will automatically be evaluated for transfer credit, or if you have to request an evaluation.

Transfer post-secondary credits outside of Canada and the USA

If you are transferring credits to B.C. from outside Canada and the USA:

  • Contact the institution you are planning on transferring to - you may be asked to provide proof of how well you speak and understand English.
  • Arrange to have official translations of your transcripts if they are from a non-English speaking country.
  • Because post-secondary programs vary from country to country it is suggested that you provide a detailed course outline or evidence of existing transfer agreements that friends other family members have already been approved for.

For more information on how transfer credits work please visit the BC Transfer Guide Help section.

International qualifications

Institutions need to know whether or not your credentials meet their admission or transfer credit requirements. It takes at least four weeks to complete an evaluation of your credentials.

For information on evaluating your international qualifications, visit the following resources: