Delivery Method: In-class
Duration: 120 weeks (108 weeks for direct entry), including a 48-week paid co-op
Paid Co-op (Optional): 48 weeks


Our Post Graduate Diploma in Canadian Nursing is no longer accepting new or future applications. We invite you to learn about our 39-week Health Care Assistant program. Please click here to learn more.

About the Career

The Post-Graduate Diploma in Canadian Nursing prepares students to become Registered Nurses (RN), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), and Health Care Assistants (HCA). Read below to learn more about each career.

What is the difference between a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Practical Nurse? 

The British Columbia Ministry of Health explains: 

“Both RNs and LPNs work autonomously within their professional scope of practice and level of competence, and as part of a collaborative team, to support safe, competent and ethical care for patients, families, and communities. Although both RNs and LPNs take similarly titled foundation courses, there is a difference in both the depth and breadth of knowledge covered, in the competencies developed, and expectations for clinical practice. 

LPNs care for individuals at all life stages, with a focus on stable or predictable states of health. In specific settings, LPNs may be able to care for those with more complex care needs if they have additional education and/or training and/or supervision. As RNs have more comprehensive education, they have a more in-depth and broader knowledge base to draw upon in areas such as clinical practice, advanced clinical decision-making, and utilization of health research. RNs can provide care for any type of individual including those with complex, unstable or unpredictable conditions.” –

Registered Nurses 

The Canadian Nurses Association provides the following definition of Registered Nurses (RNs): “RNs are self-regulated health-care professionals who work autonomously and in collaboration with others to enable individuals, families, groups, communities and populations to achieve their optimal levels of health. At all stages of life, in situations of health, illness, injury and disability, RNs deliver direct health-care services, coordinate care and support clients in managing their own health. RNs contribute to the health-care system through their leadership across a wide range of settings in practice, education, administration, research and policy.”

To learn more about the role of a Registered Nurse in Canada, visit

Licensed Practical Nurses

The British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives provides the following definition of Licensed Practical Nurses: “LPNs are health care professionals. Most work as frontline nurses caring for a wide range of clients at all stages of life. LPNs provide nursing services ranging from health pr​omotion, to acute care, to long-term and palliative care.

LPNs work in collaboration with other members of the health care team. Their education and practice — while rooted in the same body of knowledge as other nurses — focuses on foundational competencies within the LPN scope of practice and ​standards.” –

To learn more about the role of a Licensed Practical Nurse in Canada, visit

Health Care Assistants

The BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry provides the following definition of Health Care Assistants: “Care aides and community health workers are also known as health care assistants or HCAs. They are frontline care providers in a variety of institutional and community settings including home support agencies and residential care facilities.

To be eligible to work as an HCA in any publicly funded health care setting in BC, applicants must be registered with the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry.” –

Post-Graduate Diploma in Canadian Nursing Sharing results with a young patient

About the Program

Becoming a nurse in Canada requires internationally educated nurses (IENs) to navigate the nursing regulatory bodies. While the outcome is certainly worth the effort, the steps can become complicated and at times, overwhelming. This is why we developed the Post-Graduate Diploma in Canadian Nursing, to help guide you through the processes and prepare you to meet the entry-level competencies.

The Post-Graduate Diploma in Canadian Nursing with Co-op respects the education and experience of IENs but also recognizes the challenges. It will prepare you with the requisite knowledge and skills to practice safe, ethical and competent care in the Canadian health care setting.

To transition IENs into the Canadian health care setting as quickly as possible, the first 19 weeks of the program prepares you to register and work as a Health Care Assistant. Your first paid, 10-week cooperative work experience sets you up for success.

Your classes, labs and clinical experiences will give you the knowledge, applied practice, and confidence to complete registration assessments and examinations, including: 

  • The Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS) competency assessment
  • The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
  • Potentially the Regulatory Exam – Practical Nurse (REx-PN), previously the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE). 

Check out our state-of-the-art nursing lab, which provides exceptional training in our high-fidelity simulation lab.

Admission Requirements


  • Bachelor’s degree in Nursing
    • Diploma in nursing may be considered if work experience is 4+ years of employment as a nurse
  • Current registration as an RN from your country of origin or last country where majority of work experience was completed
  • Minimum 2 years full-time work (30hrs/week), or the part-time equivalent, as a Registered Nurse within last 10 years
    • 900 hours of that work must be within the last 5 years
  • Completion of a Criminal Record Consent Form under the Criminal Record Review Act
  • International students must provide a police certificate from your country of origin

Language Proficiency Requirements:

  • Overall IELTS Test score* of 5.5 with no component less than 5.0 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 5.5 in Reading and Writing (or other ESL equivalencies as determined by Stenberg).
  • Advanced Entry: Overall IELTS Test score* of 6.0 with no component less than 6.0 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 5.5 in Reading and Writing (or other ESL equivalencies as determined by Stenberg).

*Must be within the last 2 years.

Program Courses

Post-Graduation Pathways

Our Faculty

Becoming a Nurse in Canada

To become a nurse in British Columbia, internationally educated nurses must work with various regulatory bodies. The process can become difficult to navigate, which is why we are here to support you through the journey. From introducing you to the Canadian health care system to preparing you for the regulatory examinations, we are committed to setting you up for success.

Please see below for a basic step-by-step guide on becoming a nurse in BC.

Step 1: Apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)

Your first step is to apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS). They will review and verify your documents including:

  • Proof of identity documents
  • Nursing Education Form (including copies of your academic records/transcripts, nursing program curriculum/course descriptions and/or course syllabi). TIP: Have your school provide as much detail about your nursing education as possible.
  • Nursing Registration Form
  • Nursing Practice/Employment Form (detailing all employment over the past five years)

Please note: If NNAS receives documents written in any language other than English or French, they will need to be translated. NNAS can translate them, at your request, for a fee.

TIP: You can complete the entire NNAS process from outside Canada. Start early as it can take up to 1 year to complete.

Step 2: Apply to the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM)

After the NNAS reviews your application, you’ll need an NNAS registration number, an NNAS application number and an NNAS advisory report in order to apply to BCCNM.

Most internationally educated nurses are directed by the BCCNM to the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS) which measures an applicant’s entry-level competencies as compared to a new Canadian graduate. All applicants must demonstrate entry-level competencies, including those who have engaged in specialized practice.

Step 3: Competence assessment

All applicants for registration must demonstrate the entry-level competencies for Registered Nurses in BC. A competence assessment evaluates your nursing skills, knowledge and practice in comparison to what is expected of a new BC graduate. The majority of internationally educated applicants will demonstrate these competencies through completion of a competence assessment (NCAS) and transitional education.

Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS)
Competency assessments for BCCNM are completed through the Nursing Community Assessment Service and involve three components that enable internationally educated nurses to demonstrate their nursing experience and competencies that may not be reflected through an evaluation of their education alone. They are:

  • Computer-based assessment
  • Simulation lab assessment and
  • Oral assessment

While the computer-based assessment can be written in more than 100 countries around the world, the simulation lab and oral assessments must be taken in person in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Step 4: Assessment of your application for registration

After you complete the competency assessment, BCCNM will receive a report. They will review the assessment report, along with your other application documents, to identify if you have any competency gaps.

If gaps exist, you may be required to complete transitional education including: i) one or more individual courses, ii) a re-entry to practice program or iii) a BC Bachelor of Nursing program before you can write the national nursing exam (NCLEX-RN) and register with BCCNM.

Step 5: Transitional Coursework for Internationally Educated Nurses

Your BCCNM assessment will tell you which course(s) or program you need to complete at a BCCNM-recognized institution (Thompson Rivers University or Kwantlen Polytechnic University):

  1. a re-entry to practice program or Bachelor of Nursing,
  2. individual courses, iii qualifying course(s)

Note: You will have to meet the entrance requirements for these educational programs.

Step 6: National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN)

Upon successful completion of your Transitional Coursework, applicants for BCCNM registration must write and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN).

Step 7: Eligibility for registration

Once you have completed all BCCNM registration requirements, including any required transitional education and passing the NLCEX-RN, you must ensure your practicing RN registration is approved before you start practicing as a Registered Nurse in BC.

Have Questions?

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