Frequently Asked Questions About Distance Learning

When are distance & online learning courses offered?

Some courses at BCIT have "continual intake," which means you can register and order your course materials through the BCIT Bookstore at any time. Other courses are offered only when the terms start, in September, January and/or April. (The number of offerings per year can depend on instructor availability.) Special offerings for groups can be arranged at any time.

You will find specific program information on the program Web pages, through "Ask an Advisor," or by contacting program staff listed as "contacts" on our course listing pages.


Can I study at my own pace?

All of BCIT's distance & online learning courses have time frames in which you must complete your course work. Standard completion times range from 12 weeks to a year.

BCIT recognizes that mature students often have work and family commitments that take priority over study time so that the course work cannot be completed during the allotted time period. For this reason, most of BCIT's distance & online learning courses offer students a re-registration option: for a fee, the student gains more time in which to complete the studies.


How long do I have for completing a course?

Course length ranges between 12 and 52 weeks. Generally, 3-credit term-based courses are 12 weeks in length; lighter courses (e.g., worth 1.5 credits) may be half that, or 6 weeks. Check with your program or the online course details.


How will I be evaluated in a distance or online learning course?

The instructors set evaluation criteria for each course, just as they do in classroom courses. There may be a combination of assignments and exams. If you do have to write exams, you may have the options of coming to campus or arranging to write in your own location.


Am I a part of a class or learning independently?

Some courses are continual entry and each student is on an independent, personal schedule. In the courses which are offered in terms, students are usually grouped in a class where they still have a degree of independence.


Can I complete my whole program at a distance?

This depends very much on the program. Those programs with practical application components (labs, clinicals, practicums, etc.) may have sections that require attendance at a physical location. If you do decide you wish to complete a BCIT credential, you should submit a Program Declaration Request.


Will BCIT accept transfer credit for distance programs?

BCIT accepts transfer credit for distance education courses, but you will need to discuss particulars with the coordinator for the program area you are interested in.


Will I be required to come to campus for any reason?

Usually no, but, as instructors and learners make use of more flexible delivery methods, some courses may combine distance and on-site sessions. Be sure to get this information before you register.

If you are interested in a whole program of studies in which some courses are offered at a distance, find out if any are not. For example, programs with a practical component often have practicum courses that require attendance at some physical location.


How will I get access to the library from a distance?

The BCIT Library offers full services to those studying at a distance. Visit the BCIT Library web pages to find out what services are available to you and how to access them. The Distance & Online Learning Guide [PDF] will answer all of your questions about borrowing books and videos, how to access electronic books and journal articles from off-campus, and how to contact us if you have questions.

Try the Askaway service. You can chat live with a BC librarian who will answer your information and research questions.


How do I get my course materials?

Important course or tutor information will be sent to you prior to your course start date. Check your myBCIT email account to access this information.

The cost of distance & online course manuals, materials and textbooks are not included in the course fee and must be ordered and paid for separately. To order your course materials you must contact the BCIT Bookstore.

Will I need to have access to a computer to take a distance or online learning course?

Some courses do include an online component, but those are clearly identified as online courses. You can clarify at the point of registration whether or not you wish to register into an online course section.


What if unforeseen family or work complications prevent me from completing my course in the time allotted?

As soon as you anticipate you will not be able to complete on time, contact your instructor and discuss either an extension or re-registration. An extension gives you enough additional time to complete an assignment or prepare for a final exam. Re-registration is generally an extension, for a small fee, into a subsequent term for course completion.


What if I get stuck and need individual help?

Contact your program staff for help. Some courses may have tutors or markers assigned and available at scheduled times; others may accept calls between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. If you have problems reaching the faculty, contact your Program Assistant [PDF] during business hours.


Will I need any special equipment, like a video player or fax machine, to complete a distance course?

Some courses may include tapes, so you may need access to an audio or video player. Though a facsimile machine is not required, faxing or e-mail is a speedy alternative to the mail for submission and return of assignments. In some courses, you may need to arrange phone access so that you can get telephone tutoring and/or participate in an audio conference.


How will I buy my textbooks? Do I need to come to the BCIT bookstore?

When placing your order with the BCIT Bookstore you have the option of picking up your materials in person or having them shipped to you by courier.

View the Bookstore's shipping & handling rates

To check on the status of your shipment, please contact the BCIT Bookstore.


What if I discover, after starting my studies, that the distance or online learning format just isn't for me?

There may be a couple of options available to you. You should contact your Program Assistant [PDF] rather than just quitting. In some programs, you may be able to transfer to a classroom offering of the same course. If you have not written your final exam, you can always officially withdraw and prevent a 'failure to complete' from appearing on your record. To formally withdraw from a course, complete a Request to Withdraw from a Part-time Studies Course [PDF] form.


What's a CRN?

The CRN is the course reference number that you'll need to provide at the time of registration. The same course may have several different CRNs or sections: for example, one for the class at the Burnaby campus, one for a Downtown campus class, and one for a distance or online learning version. It's therefore important that you select the appropriate one. Check each term for current numbers; the CRN for a specific course changes from term to term.


What's a section?

A group of students identified by the CRN of the course they have enrolled in.


What's my student number?

Your student number is a nine-digit number that begins with capital A-zero-zero (A00). You'll need to have this number handy whenever registering, logging into online courses or contacting BCIT administration.


Whom do I talk to?


How do I get transfer credit?

You may be eligible to receive credit towards your BCIT program for equivalent coursework completed at other post-secondary institutions.

To apply for transfer credit, complete a Part-time Studies Transfer Credit Request form [PDF] and submit course outlines and official transcripts with your application. Note that only a limited number of transfer credits may be applied to a BCIT Advanced Certificate. Click here for more information on transfer credit.


What's Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)?

BCIT believes students should receive credit for what they have accomplished. Therefore, you may be granted exemption from program course work on the basis of previous course work and experience via two distinct methods: transfer credit and prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR).


What are the dates for BCIT part-time studies terms?

Always use the online lists to check dates for the courses in which you have registered, since many courses and programs have continuous intake or dates specific to their offerings. If you are an international student, please register sufficiently early before term start and order your course materials through the BCIT Bookstore in advance to allow for shipping of materials.


Are all courses term-based?

No, you can start some courses at any time and have a set number of weeks in order to complete them.