VIU Students

Program Details

  • Program Length
    16 Months
  • Credential
    Graduate Diploma
  • Location Offered

Program Overview

VIU's Inclusive Education (Special Education) Graduate Diploma embodies an innovative approach to the field of Inclusive Education. Grounded in current research and evidence–based practices, our program challenges each educator to critically examine historical and contemporary Inclusive Education policies and approaches to formulate a best practice specific to their context. Faculty bring their expert knowledge and extensive experiences to guide, support and maximize student learning in each part of the program.

This program is an online distance based program. The program consists of required and elective course work and is non-cohort based with continuous enrollment. The program requirements can be completed entirely online with some electives offered in person during the Intersession term at one or more of the VIU campuses. Students may begin the program at the start of any semester and will be able to select courses as they go.

The 30 credit program is nested in four frames of reference:

1. Context for Development and Learning: Students consider the context for development and learning including characteristics of the individual with special needs; issues such as social context, cultural perspectives, poverty, and mental and social health; and implications of research.

2. Informative Assessment: Students focus on the purposes, processes, and implications of assessment information.

3. Responsive Teaching: Students demonstrate the ability to develop, implement, and evaluate an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in consultation with classroom teacher(s), parents, students, and district and community resource personnel for students with a variety of special needs.

4. Re–imagining Inclusive Education: Students think beyond current practices and examine critical issues in the field of Inclusive Education that impact children with special needs and their families in order to re–imagine the field of Inclusive Education.

Graduates of the program will command content knowledge, develop skill–specific competencies and acquire relevant experiences prescribed by the BC Ministry of Education for Inclusive Education specialist teachers.

The Inclusive Education (Special Education) Graduate Diploma program is offered as a flexible model for practicing teachers. As a continuous intake program, students will be able to complete the program at their own pace, and once completed are eligible to apply to ladder into the Master of Education in Special Education where they will complete three more courses in order to qualify for the Master of Education in Special Education degree.

  • Completion of either a Bachelor of Education degree, or a prior degree in another discipline with current teaching experience, or flexible admission (see below).

Flexible Admission

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be admitted with different qualifications when there is significant professional experience relevant to the proposed area of scholarship. The objective of flexible admission is to recognize prior learning accomplishments and to ensure a high probability of successful program completion. Applicants must show evidence of having sufficient knowledge, skills, and attitudes to complete a demanding academic course of study. Applicants seeking Flexible Admission will be required to:

  • Provide a personal statement of intent;
  • Provide a detailed résumé; 
  • Provide two or more letters of reference;
  • Provide official transcripts of all post-secondary coursework;

In limited cases, applicants may also be required to:

  • Provide a portfolio containing evidence of applicable prior learning; 
  • Appear for an interview;
  • Take a qualifying course; and/or 
  • Provide additional documentation as may be required to adjudicate the application.

Recommendations for Admission

A minimum of two years of successful teaching, or employment in an educational setting, is recommended.

Notes on Admission

  • Students who meet or exceed the minimum admission requirements may not necessarily be admitted to the program.
  • Students’ ability to register in classes will be subject to seat availability.

Transfer from other Institutions

Applicants may apply to the Program Chair/Program Coordinator for possible transfer of credits from other accredited Graduate programs with a maximum of 9 credits accepted. Course work completed over five years ago will not be considered for transfer credit.

Graduate Diploma Planning

Given the flexible model of the program, students should consult with the Program Coordinator to discuss their plan to satisfy the graduate diploma requirements, including the option to apply to ladder into the Master of Education in Special Education program.

Graduate Diploma Requirements

To be granted the Inclusive Education (Special Education) Graduate Diploma (IEGD), students must meet the following requirements.

Total Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits comprised of 24 required credits and a minimum of 6 elective credits.

Required Courses

Students must complete the following:

GDSE 583 - (Social and Emotional Development)
GDSE 584 - (Assistive Technology and UDL: Foundations & Exemplary Practices)
GDSE 585 - (Collaborative Planning for Student Success)
GDSE 591 - (Literacy and Numeracy in Inclusive Education)
GDSE 594 - (Learning Disabilities) 
GDSE 620 - (Introduction to Inclusive Education (Special Education)) 
GDSE 692 - (Individual Intervention Planning)*
GDSE 693 - (Individual Assessment)*

*GDSE 692 plus GDSE 693 are equivalent to the former GDSE 592 course.

Elective Courses

Students must complete a minimum of 6 credits by taking at least two of the following:

GDSE 582 - (Special Topics: Investigation of Practice)
GDSE 586 - (Gifted Learners Investigation of Practice)
GDSE 587 - (Developing Functional Curricula)
GDSE 588 - (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Investigation of Practice)
GDSE 589 - (Autism Spectrum Disorders: Investigation of Practice)
GDSE 590 - (Conference Related Special Project)** 
GDSE 593 - (Planning for Inclusion: Differentiation) 
GDSE 595 - (Working with High Risk, Marginalized, and Vulnerable Youth)

** GDSE 590 is a required course for those applying to ladder into the Master of Education in Special Education.

Program Progression Requirements

  • Students must obtain a grade of ‘B’ (3.0) or ‘CR’ in each course.
  • Any students who do not obtain the grades described above are required to meet with the Program Coordinator and/or the Program Chair to create an action plan to improve academic performance.
  • Students can receive up to two ‘F’ grades in their IEGD program. If a third failing grade is received, they will be required to leave the program.
  • Students who find it necessary to interrupt their program may request a leave of absence and are advised to meet with their Program Coordinator and/or the Program Chair in support of completing the Graduate Studies Leave of Absence process.
  • Students returning to the program after an absence of five years or longer will have their course work reassessed for relevancy and may be required to retake courses and resubmit a proposal (if applicable).


Domestic graduates of this program will be well–poised to assume Inclusive Education positions at the school and district level. School districts in British Columbia report great difficulty in recruiting qualified Inclusive Education teachers.

Domestic Fees

Tuition and Other Mandatory Student Fees

When applying to the program, applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee.

When applying to graduate, students will be charged a non-refundable graduation and alumni fee.

Some courses have additional fees to pay for extraordinary class–related expenses.

Cost per course Amount
Tuition (3 credits x $444.2 per credit) 1,332.60
Student Activity fee (3 credits x $9.98 per credit) 29.94
VIU Students' Union fee (4 months x $27.60 per month) 110.40
Health and Dental Plan fee ($265.00 per year) 265.00

The VIUSU Health and Dental Plan fee is assessed for all students enrolled in 6 credits or more per term, or in Trades/Vocational programs of 5 months or longer.  

Textbooks and/or course packages are required for each course. Contact the Education Department at 250.753.3245 Ext. 2530 for further information regarding books and supplies. 

All fees are subject to change without prior notice and are expected to increase by 2% each year on April 1.

Domestic (Canadian)

Program Start Date Accepting Applications Campus