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Required: Co-op work terms are mandatory as per the program schedule illustrated below.

The BCIT Nautical Sciences Diploma Program is your first step to becoming the Captain of your own ship! This four year full-time Co-operative education program prepares you for a career as a ship’s Navigation Officer in the commercial marine industry.

You will gain a thorough background in the principles and operation of modern vessels like super tankers, bulk carriers, cruise ships, and off-shore supply vessels.

The knowledge and theory acquired in the classroom are applied to real-life situations during Co-op terms aboard ships. Students (cadets) alternate between four terms of academic study and three Co-op terms to enhance the educational experience.

For more information on the program, including an overview of the curriculum, please visit Nautical Sciences Diploma Program.

Program schedule

The Nautical Sciences Diploma Program is four years in length with four academic terms and three Co-op terms that range from 31 to 40 weeks in length1.

Academic Term Co-op Terms
First Year Term 1 (Sept-Mar) Term 2 (Mar-Oct)
Second Year Term 3 (Oct-Apr) Term 4 (Apr-Jan)
Third Year Term 5 (Feb-July) Term 6 (Aug-Apr)
Fourth Year Term 7 (Apr-Sept)

1All dates are approximate and subject to change.

Student profile & capabilities

Nautical Sciences students (cadets) receive instruction and training based on seamanship and traditional maritime skills in areas such as:

  • Watchkeeping
  • Marine communications and navigation
  • Safe carriage of goods
  • Meteorology
  • Chartwork
  • Ship Stability
  • Marine safety, security, and rescue
  • Environmental response

Upon successful completion of the third year, you will be eligible to write the Transport Canada examination for the Watchkeeping Mate Certificate of Competency. This certification will allow you to work as a qualified Deck Officer. Upon successful completion of your fourth year and additional sea time aboard ships, Officers may continue to upgrade their skills with the ultimate goal of becoming a Captain on any merchant ship worldwide.

Co-op job title examples

  • Deck Cadet (as a trainee)
  • Deck Officer (after 3rd year and once they have their License)
  • Watchkeeping Mate (after 3rd year.  This in the name of their License)

In our programs (Nautical Sciences and Marine Engineering) the students can obtain their first Transport Canada Certificate of Competency or License after 3rd year. For Nautical Sciences, it is the referred to as a persons Watchkeeping Mates Certificate of Competency.

One becomes an Officer once they get their first Certificate of Competency (COC). Once they have their COC they are never referred to as a Cadet. As an Officer they can obtain higher COCs after the first one, up to Captain for Nautical Sciences.

Employers will post for Cadet positions for those trying to obtain their first COC. For those with their COC, job postings would be for the COC they hold.

Job opportunities

Co-op placements in the Nautical Sciences Diploma Program typically end up being permanent positions as many of the Co-op employers seek lifetime employees. We work with employers such as BC Ferries, Canada Steamship Lines, Royal Caribbean, Algoma Central Corporation, Seaspan, Transport Desgagnes, Teekay Shipping, Rigel Shipping and more.

Cadets may earn between $500 and $1,300 per month with these employers until they obtain their Transport Canada Watchkeeping Mate Certificate of Competency and become licensed Deck Officers in the third Co-op term. A licensed Deck Officer can expect to earn up to $10,000 per month.