Accelerated ECE Diploma Programs

Funding will be available for more than 300 staff currently working in child care and pre-primary to participate in accelerated ECE Diploma program (with PLAR).
Of these seats there will be designated seats for Mi’kmaq/Indigenous peoples, Black/African Nova Scotians, Acadian/francophone Nova Scotians, and newcomers (permanent residents).
The accelerated ECE Diploma programs offered at the Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education (NSCECE), Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) and Université Sainte-Anne (USA) use a Prior Learning and Recognition (PLAR) process that is designed to reduce the time to earn a diploma from 2 years to 13 – 18 months.

As an employer if my staff needs time off for courses or practicum, will I receive any financial support for costs associated with substitutes?

Students should not need any time off. They will complete practical learning experiences in their workplace and do coursework after hours on their own time.

Why are you supporting accelerated ECE diplomas?

We want to ensure as many people as possible have diplomas in early childhood education. As we move to a certification model with clearly defined roles/responsibilities and scope of practice for ECEs, we are giving anyone who wants to become certified as an ECE the opportunity to do so.

Those who are untrained or with a Level 1 classification will have a new scope of practice in 2023 when certification is introduced. Accelerated programs give them the chance to earn their diploma to become an ECE before the new certification system comes into effect.

What is the cost for a student studying in an accelerated ECE Diploma program?

All tuition, books and any other costs charged by the institution are covered through this program.

How many spaces are available for this program?

Overall, there are more than 300 spaces anticipated over the next year.

  • 60 new seats in September at the Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education with priority seats given to those who self-identify as newcomers (permanent residents)
  • 25 seats at Université Sainte-Anne
  • 215+ seats at Nova Scotia Community College, including 25 for Black/African Nova Scotians and 25 for Mi’kmaq/Indigenous

Can I choose which accelerated program to apply to?

Applicants are encouraged to apply for all programs as the applications are released. The first program starts in September 2021 with others to follow in the next few months.

As there are a limited number of seats, anyone interested in applying should apply at their first opportunity to do so, to avoid disappointment. Only those who identify as equity seeking applicants can apply for a designated seat.

Will I have access to technology, and will there be support in utilizing technology online?

It is the expectation that those taking the diploma have access to internet and a computer. However, for those who do not have access to a computer, there may be an opportunity to borrow one from the training institution. More information about this process will be available from the training institution.

What is the diploma for untrained staff?

We know that that there are some people working in child care who have no training or additional barriers to training like not having their high school diploma. We plan to work with a training institution to offer a program supporting these individuals to work toward a diploma.

More details will be shared over the coming months. Applications are now open for the accelerated ECE Diploma Program (with PLAR) at NSCECE ( and USA (

I am currently taking the Level 1 program but do not complete until next year – will there be other options for me to take the accelerated diploma?

EECD expects to continue working with individuals without training or with a Level 1 over the next 2 years to ensure that as many individuals are trained as possible. Details about additional opportunities will be available in early 2022.

Can I choose which courses I take and when?

This varies by program. Most programs will be moving in a cohort format meaning that all courses are taken at the same time and students will move through the program together. However, there could be situations where this is not the case, so it is best to check the formats with the training institution.

Will I have to take time off work to complete practicum?

No, because you will be completing it in your current workplace.

What is the Indigenous Accelerated Program?

Nova Scotia Community College will be offering the ECE Accelerated Program in an Indigenous focused learning environment for Mi’kmaq/Indigenous students. Students will be guided by community Elders while completing a program focused on Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing in the context of early learning and care.

I participated in the accelerated program at NSCECE last year. Can I seek reimbursement for that program now that you are offering free programs?

EECD cannot offer reimbursement for programs in the past. The programs announced that are funded this year are for one year only and part of the Government of Canada’s early learning and child care workforce funding.

Can my workplace experiences be completed at my current place of employment?

Yes. To be eligible to apply, you must be currently working as an ECE and have your employer’s support to complete the practical learning experiences in your workplace (child care centre or pre-primary program).

Will my employer have to do anything during this process?

Your employer will have the important role of supporting and mentoring you in your education journey. It is strongly encouraged that all individuals looking to earn their diplomas have conversations with their employers about their education and career goals.

Your centre directors and Pre-Primary Leads/Managers are well versed in the field of early childhood education and can be great mentors and support systems throughout your program.

When will I know and how will I know if I have been accepted?

EECD will follow up with applicants to let them know if they meet the eligibility requirements. The educational institution will then contact those eligible and give instructions for applying for admission to the institution.

What is an accelerated diploma program?

Accelerated programs closely assess participants’ current knowledge and skills and give them credit for what they already know.

This process is called Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) and allows participants to take fewer courses to obtain a diploma as their course work focuses specifically on the gaps in their knowledge.

Courses are designed to be taken while students are working (online outside of work hours) and required practicums are completed in their workplace.

Do I have to be working full time to apply to an accelerated ECE diploma program?

You must be working at least 15 hours a week throughout the duration of the program.

Why are accelerated programs only available to those working in licensed child care or pre-primary?

We wanted to ensure that those who already work in early learning and care, who have chosen this profession are given all the support they can get to earn their diploma. We want to invest in the individuals who are already supporting our children in early learning and care.

What is the Africentric Accelerated Program?

Nova Scotia Community College will be offering the ECE Accelerated Program in an Africentric learning environment for Black/African Nova Scotian students. Students will be supported by Black/African Nova Scotian faculty and mentors.

How do I apply for an accelerated ECE Diploma program?

Applications will open on July 12, 2021 for the accelerated programs at Université Sainte-Anne and Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education. There will be 60 new seats available in September at the Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education and 25 at Université Sainte-Anne.