Our Early Childhood Education (ECE) diploma program is designed for those with a passion for positively impacting the lives of young children during their formative years.

This program will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to become a frontline leader in ECE settings.  

In this program, you will:  

  • develop a robust understanding of early childhood development from birth to age 12 
  • learn through a blend of theoretical, classroom-based instruction, project-based courses and integrated practicum experiences 
  • learn curriculum design and development techniques for creating responsive and relationship-based programs 
  • gain insights into Flight, Alberta’s early learning and care framework 
  • enhance your fundamental communication skills and develop the digital literacy necessary for the modern ECE environments 
  • develop observation, assessment, documentation and reporting techniques 
  • acquire skills in behaviour management, problem-solving, and collaboration 
  • learn strategies to support the holistic development and well-being of children, staff, and volunteers 
  • gain an understanding of the importance of ethics, professionalism, and advocacy in ECE 
  • develop leadership skills specific to the ECE setting.

You will commit to creating safe, respectful, inclusive play environments that support diversity and equity. You will engage with community partners to support ongoing learning and growth.  

You’ll foster a broader perspective on wellness, equity, diversity, inclusion, reconciliation, and child-centred learning through engagement and direct work with children, families, and ECE professionals.  

By the end of this program, you will have the expertise to coordinate and manage day-to-day operations in ECE settings, ensuring a nurturing and stimulating environment for young learners. You’ll be ready to step into a leadership role and make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and their communities. 

Early childhood educators are social, methodical and directive. 

You need:   

  • to be playful, sensitive, and caring toward children  
  • initiative and enthusiasm  
  • resilience, persistence, and the ability to regulate your emotions  
  • critical-thinking skills  
  • to model respectful behaviour and language  
  • a healthy lifestyle and physical fitness 
  • to prioritize ethical decision-making and practice  
  • consistent, positive strategies to guide children’s behaviour  
  • to plan for, observe, engage with, and support children’s play and learning  
  • to communicate and work respectfully with children, parents, caregivers and other professionals  
  • to document interactions with children, parents, caregivers and other professionals clearly  
  • to take time to learn about each child and create a curriculum based on that learning.  

You should enjoy taking a creative and open-minded approach to your work and building relationships with people, especially children. You should be at ease taking responsibility and supervising others. 

You are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for early childhood educators to ensure you can successfully meet the occupational requirements for the program and profession.

The opportunity to advance your education by transferring into this program or gain credit for previous postsecondary courses may be available.

There may also be opportunities to further your education once you graduate.

Learn more about program and institution transfer options.

In this program, you will participate in four off-site work placements (practicum), where you will develop critical thinking and decision-making skills by observing the role of the early childcare education worker. 

You will be assigned practicum placements with consideration given to your preference of location. However, due to limited availability in Calgary, it might be necessary for you to travel or relocate outside the city.

Special considerations will not be accommodated. You will be responsible for covering the associated fees of the practicum, including entrance requirements, relocation, and travel costs.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, you will be required to provide specific documentation before you can participate in your practicum. Find out what requirements you need for this program. 

Graduates are eligible to apply for the Level 3 - Early Childhood Educator Certification.

Upon successful completion of this program, you’ll receive a SAIT Early Childhood Education diploma.

Download program info

Careers and opportunities

Our graduates may work in the following occupations. Some careers require additional experience and education.

Associated National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes: 42202, 44100, 40030, 42201.


Career counselling and support

Unsure which career path is for you? SAIT offers career planning services to help you decide your future.

You can also get started by taking our online career finder quiz, which can help you narrow down your search based on your current skills and interests.

Finally, you can also head to Alberta alis for various tools and resources, including additional quizzes and labour market information to help you narrow down a career path.

Services and workshops


The Early Childhood Education diploma requires 60 credits (21 courses) to complete.

The program spans two years, with three semesters in year one and three semesters in year two.

Course Credits

This course allows students to develop and practice their verbal and written communication skills, which are essential for maintaining positive interpersonal relationships in an early learning environment. A broad range of communication topics and strategies will be introduced, including basic ethics, diversity and inclusion, critical thinking, teamwork, engagement and collaboration. Students will also explore conflict management, difficult conversations, decision-making and report writing.


This course focuses on the professional use of technology and interactive media to enhance daily operations in an early learning environment, as well as how to provide children with another relevant outlet to demonstrate creativity and learning. Students will explore the use of the internet, developmentally appropriate assistive technologies and interactive media. Discussion will include age-appropriate web-based applications and software, as well as digital technology to aid and enhance communication with children, families and the community.


This introductory course examines the fundamentals of early childhood education.  Students will explore the importance of healthy and safe environments for children and their families while considering pertinent legislation, regulations, standards and best practices.  Students will develop a personal philosophy of early childhood education based on their understanding and evaluation of the course topics.


This course uses a whole-child approach to introduce students to the overall development of children. This approach addresses a child’s cognitive, social, emotional, physical and mental growth. Atypical development will also be discussed. Students will explore key theories and principles of child development. Creating a healthy, safe and engaging learning environment that supports the development of essential life skills and growth toward the child’s full potential will also be addressed. Learners will explore key theories and child development principles. Child development is viewed through multiple perspectives, including multicultural, indigenous and neuro-divergent.


In this practical extension of previous courses, students will explore the role and importance of play to children’s developmental stages. Students will be encouraged to consider Flight’s holistic play-based goals when given the opportunity to apply their learning of child development, childhood wellness, equity, diversity and inclusion. Beyond those concepts, students should apply language and digital literacy when planning and designing safe and age-appropriate play environments and activities for children. Both indoor and outdoor play experiences will be explored.


This course builds upon Childhood Development 1: Growth and Development , as students continue to explore the stages of children’s individual progression in the context of behaviour and social-emotional development. Students will be introduced to developmental milestones, ages and stages, as well as the related strategies, practices and interventions needed to guide, support and nurture age-appropriate behavior and growth. Discussion will include strategies to help children build positive self-esteem and create respectful relationships in the learning environment, at home and in their community.


This course introduces the importance of literacy and numeracy in early learning environments. Students will explore strategies used to develop children’s speaking, listening, reading, writing, counting, problem-solving and numeracy skills to build an essential foundation for language arts and math. Students will research how age-appropriate literature, technology and play-based activities are used to stimulate interest and enhance literacy and numeracy development. Students will also reflect on the relationship between culture and language development.

  • ECED 200

This course continues integrating the Flight framework’s holistic play-based goals as students plan, design, develop and implement creative activities and experiences to support children’s learning and development. Experiences will focus on two- and three-dimensional activities, multi-modal learning, and expression through music, movement and drama. Students will explore cross-curricular integration, incorporation of appropriate technology, interactive media, age-appropriate web-based applications and software. Students will implement creative play in both indoor and outdoor environments.

  • ECED 250

This course focuses student learning on strategies and skills appropriate to the care and development of infants, toddlers, and preschool children in this stage of growth. Students will build their understanding of emerging and best practices for an early childhood professional in the day-to-day activities and routines of this age group. Effective, positive communication will be emphasized.

  • ECED 251

This course will be focused on atypical development in children and the exploration of exceptionalities that may be represented in an early childhood setting. Students will examine and discuss values, philosophies, accommodations, and strategies that can help create an inclusive child care environment where all children are supported.

  • ECED 251

This advanced, project-based course examines age-appropriate approaches and strategies, specifically emergent curriculum, when designing, developing, and implementing play opportunities in an early childhood setting. Students will incorporate appropriate technology and related applications to create an early childhood education plan for various needs and developmental stages. Students will design a developmentally appropriate curriculum for indoor and outdoor learning environments, considering concepts and strategies previously learned. These will include childhood wellness (nutrition, fitness and safety), equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), language and digital literacy, as well as numeracy. Students will consider Alberta’s Flight framework in their planning and design process.

  • ECED 300

This course focuses student learning on strategies and skills appropriate to the care, supervision, and development of school-age children in this stage of growth. Students will gain a better understanding of emerging and best practices when involved as an early childhood professional in the day-to-day and after-school activities and routines of this age group. Effective, positive communication will be emphasized, as will positive strategies for guiding and managing school-age behaviour.

  • ECED 301

Students will focus on the benefits and challenges of working with families of children in early childhood settings. This advanced course will examine the complexities of diverse family and community structures, helping students develop a deeper awareness of individual issues concerning families and their communities. Students will reflect on these societal influences and impacts on the learning and development of children within and outside the early childhood education setting. Students will build skills and develop strategies around topics including empathy, resiliency, respect for diversity, effective and respectful communication, building trust and relationships for meaningful interactions with families, as well as fostering positive community partnerships.

  • COMN 200

This project-based course combines theory and application. Key advanced topics include advocacy, rights of children and their families, determinants of health (at-risk), as well as poverty and intervention. Discussion will also address race, ethnicity and culture, as well as ethical practices and professionalism. Students will examine and engage community partners in creative curriculum design with the goal of implementing a needs-based workshop within the community that is focused on advocacy.

  • INDG 200

This course introduces students to a foundation of Indigenous teachings, practices, experiences and worldviews, preparing them to professionally engage and respectfully interact with indigenous peoples and communities. Students will examine the ongoing impacts of past and present policy, as well as identify practical ways forward that align with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC): Calls to Action. Students will develop their cultural competence towards recognizing and supporting Indigenous perspectives within an early childhood education environment. Students will explore topics such as: importance of identity, language, ceremony, and land in Indigenous cultures and how this can guide communication, planning and best practices when working with children, families, communities, and elders.


In this course, students will develop their skills in administration, organization, critical thinking, leadership and team-building to prepare for leadership/management roles within child care and early education environments. Students will be introduced to basic financial principles and practices that are relevant to managing early education facilities. Students will identify their leadership strengths/areas for improvement and explore effective leadership styles supporting positive and effective engagement with children, staff, families, and community partners. Students will explore roles and responsibilities within legislation, regulations, licensing policies (specific to the Province of Alberta), and risk management from a leadership lens, when addressing various issues such as child protection.

  • COMN 200

Using Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework, this off-site placement allows students to develop critical thinking and decision-making skills by observing the role of the early childcare education worker. The work placement will also be used to safely build fundamental skills for working with children. This placement combines professional observation, practical experience and integrated theory classes.


In this work placement, students will be given more hands-on experience within an early childhood education learning environment under the supervision of a work experience mentor. Students will be expected to apply the skills, knowledge and strategies gained from course prerequisites as they plan, observe and reflect on their day-to-day participation at their off-site placement. Students will play a lead role within the learning environment and be directly involved in the practice of documentation. Application of collaboration, communication skills and teamwork will be observed as students have more direct engagement with children, their families and the community. This work placement has five observational days leading to a four-week block of practical experience.

  • COMN 200
  • DIGI 200
  • ECED 200
  • ECED 201
  • PRCT 204
  • WLNS 202

This work placement expands on the previous practical experiences of students and will be integrated throughout the term in two different early childhood settings. The theoretical portion of the work placement will focus on discussions around leadership and teamwork. This will include positively working with diverse families and communities in the context of potential leadership roles (lead educator, associate director, program director) in an early child care setting.

  • ECED 250
  • ECED 251
  • ECED 252
  • INDG 200
  • PRCT 208

This fourth and final work placement is an extension of Work Placement 3, with focused theory and applications on leadership, teamwork and continued engagement with family and community. The practical, off-site experience will take place for a consecutive five weeks at the end of the program, following the completion of the theory portion in the first ten weeks.

  • ECED 300
  • ECED 301
  • ECED 302
  • LDSH 301
  • PRCT 301

This course focuses on the importance of creating and nurturing a learning environment that supports the holistic well-being of children, families and child care professionals. Students will examine essential principles, skills and strategies relating to age-appropriate nutrition and fitness concepts. The significance of health and wellness dimensions such as physical, mental, social and spiritual will also be discussed. Topics will include the psychological/physical health and safety of both the child and the early childhood education (ECE) worker. Child protection responsibilities will be explained in detail. Students will also consider how community partners can be engaged to support and promote wellness to children and their families as a lifestyle.



Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.

Review our grading and progression procedure >


Explore your options!

Some courses in this program are available through Open Studies. You can complete courses via Open Studies to get a head start on your education, reduce your course load once accepted into a credentialed program, or determine which career path best suits you before you fully commit. 

You may also take courses for general interest or personal and professional development.

Available Open Studies courses

Admission requirements

Applicants educated in Canada

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency and meet the following requirements or equivalents:

  • at least 65% in English Language Arts 30-1 or English Language Arts 30-2.

SAIT accepts high school course equivalents for admission for applicants educated outside Alberta.

All applicants who were educated outside of Canada must demonstrate English Language proficiency and provide proof they meet the program admission requirements with an international document assessment. Find out what educational documents are accepted and assessment options.

SAIT may also accept courses completed at certain international post-secondary institutions.


Academic Upgrading

Missing an admission requirement for this program? Upgrade your prior education to help you receive admission into one of SAIT's career programs.


English language proficiency

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.

Learn more

Available intakes

Fall 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Waitlisted
  • Application deadline: June 28, 2024
International students: Closed
  • Application deadline: May 29, 2024


2024/25 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2024.

Domestic students

The estimated total cost of tuition and fees for domestic students is based on the recommended course load per year. 
Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2 $4,500 $1,608 $6,108
2 2 $4,500 $1,608 $6,108
Total cost:

The estimated total cost of tuition and fees for international students is based on the recommended course load per year. 
Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2 $13,500 $1,608 $15,108
2 2 $13,500 $1,608 $15,108
Total cost:

Books and supplies are approximately $1,000 - $1,500 per full-time year.

This is a bring-your-own-device program with a standard computer hardware and software requirement. See the specific requirements on our computers and laptops page.

Find your booklist on the SAIT Bookstore's website. The booklist will be available closer to the program start date.

Can’t find your program or course? The bookstore didn't receive a textbook list. Contact your program directly to determine if they’re still refining course details or if you're in luck; no textbook purchase is required this term.

Additional fees

  • There is a fee associated with obtaining a police information check, including a Vulnerable Sector Check, and it is payable to the Police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP.)
  • CPR certification must be completed yearly. Costs associated with CPR training are the responsibility of the student.
  • A fee of approximately $50-$100 is associated with an Electronic Student Permit Checking submission required for clinical practicum placements, payable to Synergy Gateway through the Verified software platform.

2023/24 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective until June 30, 2024.

Domestic students

The estimated total cost of tuition and fees for domestic students is based on the recommended course load per year. 
Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2 $4,500 $1,910 $6,410
2 2 $4,500 $1,910 $6,410
Total cost:

The estimated total cost of tuition and fees for international students is based on the recommended course load per year. 
Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 2 $13,500 $1,910 $15,410
2 2 $13,500 $1,910 $15,410
Total cost:

Financial aid

Paying for your education may feel overwhelming, but we have resources and programs that can help, including information about payment options, student loans, grants and scholarships.

Learn more

Application process

Ready to apply?

Follow our step-by-step guide to submitting a successful application.

Learn how to apply

Communication during admission

Email is the primary source of communication during the admission process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications. 

We recommend you add hps.info@sait.ca domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. 


Begin your application

Apply now using the online application portal. 

Ensure you have a valid Visa or Mastercard to pay the non-refundable application fee of $120 for domestic applicants or $150 for international applicants. 

Apply now

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details you need to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.

Contact us

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