Two female and one male Office administration students work together around a computer

Frequently Asked Questions

What certificates are offered in the Office Administration program?

We currently offer the 10-month fully accredited Office Administration certificate at the Nanaimo and Cowichan campuses.  Each certificate has 30 credits and is offered from September to June.  All intakes begin in September of each year.

What courses will I take in the Office Administration program?

The Office Administration certificate offers in-demand courses that will be completed over ten months. 

September to December

- Word Level 1, Business English, Business Math, Human Relations and Office Procedures, Administrative Procedures

January to April

- Word Level 2, Business Communications, Access and Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Web Design

April to May

- Capstone, Employment Strategies, Outlook


-  2-week practicum as an administrative assistant at a local office

Please refer to the Program Outline on the Registration page of courses for more information.

How do I apply?

Apply online today!

When is the deadline to apply?

Applications to VIU open in October of each year, and seats for the Office Administration program open each spring.  Seats are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so we encourage you to apply early.  If there are seats available, the Office Administration will accept applications until the program begins.  

How many months is this program?

The Office Administration program is a full-time, ten-month program offered over three semesters from September to June.  Students will complete 30 credits upon completion of the administrative assistant certificate. Please contact the chair of the program at for more details.

What is the cost of this program?

Learn more about tuition and fees.

Does this program require textbooks?

The Office Administration program does require students to purchase textbooks.  Please contact the program chair at for a textbook list.  Please visit the VIU Bookstore for textbook options and pricing.

Does this program qualify for student loans?

Yes, as long as students take a course load of 60 percent or more. Information on financial aid is available at Financial Aid and Awards. Contact the Nanaimo office at or 250.740.6423; contact the Cowichan office at or 250.746.3509. Application should be made eight to ten weeks prior to the start of classes.

Is the cost of the program comparable to other programs of this type?

The tuition fees are similar to those of any other publicly-funded community college in British Columbia, and VIU's fees are much lower than those of private institutions with programs of similar duration.

What other expenses will I pay while I am taking this program?

Expenses outside of textbook and tuition costs include living and transportation costs.  Pay parking is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the Nanaimo campus. Visit VIU Parking for current Nanaimo campus fees. Parking on the Cowichan campus is free.

You can rent a locker on the Nanaimo campus through the VIU Campus Store. Lockers are optional and for the students' convenience.

Please refer to Program Fees on our Programs and Courses Page for a breakdown of the fees.

Is the Office Administration program open to CTC or dual credit students?

Yes, CTC (career technical centre) and dual credit students are welcomed and do well in this program. CTC and dual credit students will complete the entire full-time administrative assistant program at the VIU campus in their grade 12 year, and tuition may be covered by the school district. Please connect with your CTC/Dual Credit Coordinator at your high school in grades 8 or 9 for more information to build your pathway to an in-demand career upon graduation.

Is the program full-time?

The 10-month program is full-time, Monday to Thursday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm (lunch is from 11:30 to 12:30).

How many hours of class time are there per week?

Full-time students attend scheduled classes from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm (with lunch from 11:30 to 12:30 pm), Monday to Thursday, for a total of 24 hours of instruction per week. There are no classes on Fridays.

What is the typical weekly schedule?

Full-time students attend two 3-hour classes each day from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.  Classes are a mix of lecture and hands-on learning in a dedicated computer lab, and students will have ample opportunity to develop high-level skills using computer software. 

Can the program be done on a part-time basis?

Part-time schedules are possible but require consultation with the Office Administration program chair. Please email for more information. 

Courses must be completed within three years in order to be used towards an Office Administration certificate. Certain courses (Math, English, Human Relations) may be considered if they have been completed within the last five years. Please speak with the program chair for more information.

Are Office Administration courses available in the evening?

This program does not offer evening classes at this time. However, please contact the program chair at to share your interest in evening and weekend courses.  

Are Office Administration courses available online?

This program does not offer online courses at this time. However, please contact the program chair at to share your interest in online courses.  

Is there a dress code for this program?

There is no dress code for this program.

What types of jobs are graduates prepared for?

Graduates of the Office Administration program will acquire the necessary skills for today's busy offices, including hands-on training in computer software applications - word processing (Word), spreadsheets (Excel), data management (Access), presentations (PowerPoint), digital publications (Publisher), email and calendars (Outlook). VIU's Office Administration graduates are employed in a diversity of offices on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland within union environments (Vancouver Island University, City of Nanaimo, Regional District of Nanaimo, North Cowichan Regional District, School District #68, Cowichan Valley School District, and BC Public Service, just to name a few), private-sector offices, small businesses, not-for-profits, legal firms, notary offices, resource companies, and many more.  Our graduates are everywhere!

Is more training necessary after I graduate from this program?

Students who successfully complete the ten-month administrative assistant certificate have acquired the necessary skills to work as an assistant in an office.  Graduates are working as program assistants, receptionists, administrative assistants, data entry clerks, just to name a few.  Graduates who continue with professional development throughout their careers gain more transferable skills, which provide them more opportunities to apply for higher-paying jobs as they progress through their careers.  Many of our graduates have grown their careers over time and are office managers, executive assistants, business owners, payroll clerks, legal assistants, financial analysts, and executive directors.  The instructors in the Office Administration program are also graduates of the program and have worked many years in a number of administrative roles.

What are the starting wages that a graduate might expect?

Generally, administrative assistant graduates have received starting wages from $18 to $22 per hour to $30+ per hour.  Starting wages depend on the student's experience and training, as well as the workplace and job.  There is a lot of opportunity for growth as an administrative assistant.  Refer to job postings online for administrative assistants to see the array of wages in the different offices.

Are many jobs available?

Currently, there are many office assistant jobs available.  Our graduates get great jobs upon graduation, and many local employers contact the Office Administration program chair to specifically request our administrative assistant graduates.    

How many graduates get employment in the office professions?

All of our graduates who want to work are hired into office jobs upon graduation.  Our graduates get great jobs and have successful careers!

What is the average class size?

Class sizes do not exceed 20 students, and students are with the same cohort for the duration of the training.

Is there an attendance requirement?

The Office Administration program does not have an attendance requirement, but if a student is funded by an external funder, they do require attendance reports.  Even though students will not be graded on attendance, they will be much more successful when they attend classes on a consistent basis.  Most courses consist of instructor lectures and hands-on experience. 

How much homework should I expect?

Students should be prepared to complete homework outside of class each week.  The amount of time could vary from day to day, depending on how much is completed during class time.  Students can complete two to five hours of homework per week, which includes pre-reading for each course.

Is work experience or practicum available in this program?

Students who successfully complete all coursework are eligible for a 70-hour (full-time over two weeks) work experience at the end of the 10-month program (generally in the first two weeks of June).  Internships and co-ops are not available in the program.

How many intakes are there per year?

The Nanaimo campus and the Cowichan campus both offer the Office Administration certificate each year with classes beginning each September.  The program runs from September to June each year at each campus.  Please contact the program chair for more information at

How are students selected for the program?

Students meet the entrance requirements for VIU or complete an assessment.  Please contact the program chair at for more information.

What are the entrance requirements for the Office Administration program?

The Faculty of Trades and Applied Technology accepts an array of students, including high school students and mature students. Please refer to the Faculty General Admission Requirements. 

Applicants who don't meet the general requirements may write an assessment to see if they will be successful in the program without prereqs. To make an assessment appointment, contact the Nanaimo office at 250.740.6276 or, or contact the Cowichan office at 250.746.3509.

What grade scale is used for this program?

The Faculty of Trades and Applied Technology grade scale is used in Office Administration.  A minimum of 70% is required to pass all courses.

Grade Letter Percent Range
A+   97-100%
A     93-96%
A- 90-92
B+   87-89%
B     83-86%
B-    80-82%
C+   77-79%
C     73-76%
C-    70-72%
F   0-69%

I've been out of school for some time. Would this program be appropriate for me?

The program welcomes students of all ages. Time away from formal learning adds to the life experience that many employers are looking for.

If I have limited knowledge of computers, will I be successful in the program?

It is recommended that students have at least an introductory knowledge of computers before entering the program.  If you have any questions about options for preparing to enter the program, please contact the program chair at  Also refer to VIU's Adult Basic Education program for upgrading options.

If I don't have a computer at home, is a computer lab available for out-of-class work?

Students have access to computer labs on campus. It is not necessary to have a home computer.

Should I apply for the program if I do not meet all the prerequisites?

Students, including those who meet "mature student status" and who have successfully completed the assessment tests, will be considered for admission.

What is the format of the Office Administration assessment?

Information about assessment testing is available through Student Affairs VIU Assessment Services. You can make an appointment by contacting the Nanaimo office at 250.740.6276 or, or contact the Cowichan office at 250.746.3509.

What is on the math assessment?

The Learning Centre in Building 205, Room 204 (Nanaimo campus), will provide a list of topics covered in the assessment. You can learn more by contacting the Nanaimo office at 250.740.6276 or, or contact the Cowichan office at 250.746.3509.

How do I book an assessment test?

Assessments are booked by emailing the Assessment Centre at (Nanaimo) or (Cowichan).

How long is the assessment test?

The math and English assessment takes 1.5 to 2 hours.

May I write the assessment test more than once?

You may write the assessment test more than once, but you would be expected to upgrade in the area(s) of weakness before reassessing.

If I don't get accepted into the program this year, can I apply again next year?

Yes. If you did not pass the assessment testing, you would upgrade in the area(s) of weakness before reassessing with us.

What can I do to increase my skills to ensure success in the administrative assistant certificate?

If you haven't used Microsoft software or don't have much experience using a computer, we recommend upgrading and practicing these skills before attending the Office Administration program to ensure your successes in the program.  If you haven't used math in a long time or struggle with English comprehension, we recommend practicing your math and English skills before attending our courses.  Please refer to VIU's Academic and Career Preparation programs for more information about computers, software, English, and math upgrading.  English 037, Math 030, and Computer Studies 047 are all great options to increase your skills to ensure success in the Office Administration program, and there are many options available to acquire these skills before beginning your administrative assistant certificate in September.

When will I hear if I have been accepted?

VIU's registration office will notify you if you have met all entrance requirements and provide you with information on the next steps to take.

Are there scholarships and bursaries available?

Yes, please refer to Financial Aid and Awards.

What other funding opportunities exist?

Funded students have accessed a variety of funding agencies to help pay for tuition.  For eligible applicants, these can include the tuition waiver program, Band funding, external awards, WorkBC offices, etc.  Some funding agencies need you to contact them before you apply to this program; some don't.  Contact the funding agencies early.

Does this program offer Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)?

Some courses in the Office Administration program are eligible for PLA. Please review the PLA webpage for procedure.  Please contact the Chair at for an appointment to determine eligibility.