Part-time, onlinePlain Language Certificate

Frequently asked questions about this program

Q: What is the student/instructor ratio in SFU’s Plain Language Certificate?

A: The group size for the certificate program is no more than 30 students.

Q: Can I take individual courses in the Plain Language Certificate?

A: Yes.

Q: Do I have to set aside specific times to take these courses?

A: No. Occasionally, an instructor will create virtual office hours using an interactive videoconference platform, but student participation is optional. Groups of students will want to work collaboratively on a project or assignment, but the students involved will arrange their own meeting time.

Q: I've completed some of the courses in this program as part of another program. Will those courses satisfy the requirements of this certificate?

A: Absolutely, any courses that you have completed successfully that are part of the certificate curriculum at the time you apply will count toward your certificate if you are accepted into the program. The courses must have been completed in the last five years. To graduate with the Plain Language Certificate, you must complete all the required courses with an overall grade of B- (70%).

Q: I think I've taken a similar course to one in the program. Can I get credit for it?

A: As a student in the Plain Language Certificate, you may request up to three exemptions for equivalent courses you have completed at SFU or other educational institutions.

We consider exemption requests only during or after your application to the program.

Have the following information ready to upload with your application to the Plain Language Certificate, or if you are already an accepted Plain Language certificate student, email to wcp-info@sfu.caWe can assess your request only if you submit all of the following items.

  1. Name of the specific course within the plain language program for which you are requesting an exemption.
  2. Name of the course you have completed that you feel matches the SFU course in content and hours. You must have completed the course within five years of your request.
  3. Course outline/syllabus of the course you have completed. This must show details of curriculum content, evaluation methods and course hours.
  4. Official transcript.

If approved, we'll charge a $50 exemption fee for each course and assign an EX grade, which will appear on your transcript.

Q: The course I want to take is full. Can I join a waiting list?

A: Yes. We keep waiting lists for all of our courses.

Q: When will I find out whether I've been accepted to SFU's Plain Language Certificate?

A: After submitting your application, we'll review it. If we determine that you might be a good fit for the program, we'll contact you. Please note that application does not guarantee acceptance to the program.

Q: What do I need to do to graduate with the Plain Language Certificate?

A: Complete all courses with an overall grade of B- (70%) in order to graduate with SFU’s Plain Language Certificate.

Q: Are scholarships or other funding available?

If you work in the private or non-profit sector in B.C., your employer may be eligible for the B.C. Employer Training Grant, which provides funding for employers to support skills training for their current and new employees.

If you are an Internationally Trained Professional, you may contact S.U.C.C.E.S.S. for potential financial assistance from the Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR) Loan Project.

The provincial government offers a tuition waiver for former youth in care attending public post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. B.C. students who are between 19 and 26 years of age who have received care from the Ministry of Children and Family Development or a Delegated Aboriginal Agency through the Child, Family and Community Service Act may be eligible for a tuition waiver for all Continuing Studies courses and programs. 

The program is not eligible for any other B.C. or Canada Student Loans, but you are welcome to obtain funding through other sources such as your personal financial institution. If you are a beneficiary of a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), you may be able to withdraw funds from your RESP to pay for Continuing Studies programs and courses. Please contact your RESP provider for details.

Individuals from the United States who have completed an approved term of national service in AmeriCorps programs may be able to use funding from the Segal Americorps Education Award towards tuition for programs and courses at SFU Continuing Studies.

Q: Can I transfer credits earned from this certificate to undergraduate or graduate studies?

A: All courses and programs offered through SFU Continuing Studies are non-credit—they do not carry university credits. The work doesn't transfer toward other university degrees, and most institutions, including SFU, would not accept the course work completed as transfer credits towards undergraduate or graduate programs.

Frequently asked questions about SFU Continuing Studies

Q: Where do your courses take place?

A: Simon Fraser University has three campuses: in Burnaby, Vancouver and Surrey. While undergraduate and graduate courses take place at all three campuses, we offer SFU Continuing Studies courses primarily at the Vancouver and Surrey campuses.

Please check course or program pages to find out where classes meet.

SFU Continuing Studies also offers online programs and courses, which are available to students anywhere in the world.

Q: When do your courses start?

A: While undergraduate and graduate courses start at the beginning of each semester (January, May and September), SFU Continuing Studies programs begin throughout the year. Please check course or program pages for start dates.

Q: Do I need to apply for admission if I want to take SFU Continuing Studies courses?

A: You do not have to apply for admission to register for most Continuing Studies courses, but there are application procedures for our certificate and diploma programs. 

Q: Can I apply for a study permit for SFU Continuing Studies programs?

A study permit is not needed if you want to take short-term courses or programs of study of six months or less. Our part-time Dialogue and Civic EngagementExecutive Leadership and Social Innovation certificates as well as The Writer's Studio, and our full-time English Language and Culture Program and Interpretation and Translation Program are the only programs that may entitle you to qualify for a study permit. For more information on study permits, contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada directly. The permit procedure for undergraduate and graduate students is available on SFU's Student Services website.

Q: Is there a different fee structure for international students?

A: Although undergraduate and graduate programs have different fee structures for international students, fees for Continuing Studies courses and programs are the same for domestic and international students.

Q: How do I find out about your free public events?

A: Click on the public lectures and events link on the sidebar.

Q: Do you have a course about ... ?

A: Please search our website for courses and programs that might interest you. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, we probably don't yet offer a course or program in that area. Please contact us at or 778-782-8000 if you have questions.

Q: How do I request a transcript?

A: Go to our online form to request a transcript of courses you have completed through SFU Continuing Studies.

Q: Can I access my grades online?

A: Once you have an account, you can review your courses, schedule and grades online. Instructions for accessing your grades are available in our online guide.

Q: Will I receive an income-tax receipt for my tuition?

A. If your SFU tuition fees exceed $100 in one calendar year, they may qualify as a tax credit. The payment receipt that we'll email you after you register is your official tax receipt. To determine whether your tuition fees qualify, consult the Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.

Q: What is your policy on course cancellations and instructor substitutions?

A: We reserve the right to substitute instructors or cancel courses without liability. In the event of a cancellation, we will make every effort to give registered students adequate notice. To make this process easier, when you register for courses, please provide full contact information, including your email address(es) and home and business telephone numbers.

Q: What is your policy on program withdrawals and tuition refunds?

A: Our Refund Policy is posted on our Registration Information page.

Q: When I complete my program, what will my alumni status be?

A: Graduates of SFU certificate and diploma programs become SFU alumni, complete with all of our alumni benefits.

Q: What is a cohort?

A: We call several of our programs cohort programs. This means you will work through the program courses with a group of your peers (called a cohort). Some program courses are available only to cohort students—that is, students who have been accepted to and are working through the entire program.

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