Part-time, onlinePlain Language Certificate

Program details

Format Part-time, online

Each course runs from three to 10 weeks and involves nine to 30 hours of instruction.*

*Online courses can be accessed at your convenience via Canvas, our online course management system. 


The program can be completed in as little as one year. You have up to five years to finish.*

*Beginning on the day you start your first course (as long as the course is part of the program's curriculum when you apply). 

Upcoming term You may begin in any term with almost any course. See individual courses for details.
Courses There are eight required courses: six core courses and a minimum of 20 hours of electives.
Learning materials Please see individual courses for text, hardware and software requirements. All other course materials are provided online. The cost of textbooks is not included in your tuition. 
Tuition Tuition is based on the total cost of individual course fees, which range from $350 to $930.
Application fee $75 (non-refundable
Application deadline Apply anytime. There is no application deadline for this program. 

Study online with other professionals

Flexible scheduling

The curriculum is designed to meet the scheduling needs of a working professional. You can access the course from wherever you have a computer with an Internet connection. Your course materials will be available 24/7, and assignment deadlines are posted well in advance.

Interactive environment

Studying online doesn't mean you'll miss out on interaction with others. You'll work through each course with a group of no more than 25 like-minded professionals from different locations and fields who will share experience, ideas and expertise. Additionally, you may always contact your classmates and instructors through Canvas.

Coursework: What to expect

Learn hands-on

Coursework reflects and builds upon the real-world experience that everyone brings to the program. The workload will vary, but you should be prepared to spend up to 10 hours a week on coursework.

Work at your own pace

You'll typically set your own coursework hours, although occasionally you may need to meet your classmates online at a specific time. You'll also need to follow posted assignment and discussion timelines.

English language requirements  

To meet the demands of the program, you should have an advanced level of spoken and written English. If English is not your first language, we recommend you complete the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with the following minimums:

  • Overall band score of 6.5
  • All bands 6.0 or higher
  • A writing band score of 8.0

If you have any questions or concerns about your English language proficiency, we encourage you to contact us.

Technical information

You’ll access the courses through Canvas, our learning management system, which is available through the SFU website. Canvas is extremely user-friendly—even if you’ve never studied online before. All you need is a computer with an Internet connection.

You may log into Canvas beginning on the first day of each course. For a list of Canvas-supported operating systems and web browsers, visit our supported web browsers page.

To learn more about Canvas, visit the SFU Canvas Student Guide.

Evaluation and graduation

Evaluation methods vary, but you will receive a final letter grade (A to F or P or F) at the end of each course. To graduate with the Plain Language Certificate, complete all the required courses with an overall grade of B- (70%). When you have successfully completed all your courses, please fill out the graduation application form. There is no fee to apply to graduate.