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Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE)


Earn a Diploma in 2 years or a Post-Degree Diploma in 1 year 

The Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE) program readies students for careers in coastal natural resources management, ecosystem restoration, environmental monitoring, and many others. ACE balances foundational learning in areas such as biology, geography, chemistry and oceanography with applied courses in areas such as salmon, ground fish and shellfish management, stream habitat restoration, rainforest ecology, wildlife management, and more.

ACE students get important technology training in computer database management, GIS mapping, surveying, technical writing, and presentation. Students participate in real-world, community-based projects to gain employment-ready experience and ultimately gain a strong sense of how coastal ecosystems react to the stresses imposed on them by human activity, and how to apply procedures to mitigate impacts and restore healthy ecosystems.

For more information on ACE and other environmental programs, view our 2016-17 Environmental & Cultural Program Guide.


University Transfer Agreements

Start here, finish anywhere!

ACE Diploma graduates are able to move onto University Degree completion at a number of institutions.  The majority of courses within the program transfer directly to colleges and universities in British Columbia.  The BC Transfer Guide is the main resource to look up the transfer of courses between institutions within the province.

The ACE program also has a number of specific transfer agreements with institutions including Royal Roads University and UBC that facilitate a seamless transfer between programs.  In addition to these specific agreements, more general agreements exists for degree completion within Canada and internationally.  Prospective and currents students should check out the Degree Partnership page for more specific details and consult with the ACE Program Coordinator in planning their program. 

Program Outline 

The ACE program has multiple entry and exit points depending on your prior studies. Students with Biology 11, Chemistry 11, Math 11, and English 12 can complete the Diploma within 2 years. Students missing these courses can enter the program and upgrade in the Career and College Prep (CCP) program while taking ACE courses that lead to employment. The completion time ranges from 2 to 3 years depending on how many pre-requisites you need to complete. Post-Degree students with a B.Sc. can complete the program in a year.

ACE Program Questions? Email Us

ACE Diploma Requirements

The ACE Diploma requires the completion of a total of 70 credits according to the categories shown below. The list of recommended courses outline a typical program for students, however additional courses may be available depending on scheduling and the student's area of specialization. Contact the ACE Program Coordinator or an Educational Advisor to develop your personalized study program.

ACE Diploma Requirements 

Recommended Courses

18 Credits First Year Sciences 
(Min 6 credits lab biology) 

BIOL 101
BIOL 102
CHEM 101
CHEM 102
GEOG 150
GEOG 160

3 Credits Computer Science  CPSC 111
6 Credits First Year English*


15 Credits Second Year Courses 

GEOG 204
OCGY 208
OCGY 209


22 Credits ACE Courses 

ACE 101
ACE 154
ACE 175
ACE 141
ACE 142
ACE 182
ACE 134
ACE 195
ACE 196

6 Credits of the Electives listed below   

*Any combination of ENGL 101/102/151/152 can be used for the 6 credits of 1st year English requirements. 

ANTH 111 First Nations of Canada
ANTH 112 First Nations of British Columbia
ANTH 203 Northern Nations of Northwest Coast
ANTH 205 Archeology of Northern British Columbia
ANTH 212 Cultural Resource Management
ANTH 240 Introduction to Archeology
ANTH 245 Archeological Field Studies
ANTH 250 Introduction to Biological Anthropology
ANTH 270 Traditional Knowledge in Practice
BIOL 201 Invertebrate Zoology
BIOL 202 Vertebrate Zoology
BIOL 203 Non-Vascular Plants and Fungi
BIOL 204 Vascular Plants
BIOL 211 Principles of Ecology
BIOL 235 Ichthyology
BIOL 236 Ornithology: Biology of Birds
BIOL 270 Coastal Zone Conservation Biology
ECON 150  Microeconomics 
ECON 151  Macroeconomics 
GEOG 110 People and the Environment
GEOG 150 Physical Geography I:  Biogeography, Meteorology and Climatology
GEOG 160 Physical Geography II: Geology, Geomorphology and Soils
GEOG 201 Environmental Climatology
GEOG 202 Geography of Ecosystems
GEOG 203 Geomorphology
GEOG 204 Spatial Analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
GEOG 207 Hydrology/ Soils
GEOG 210 Environments and Society
GEOG 215 Geography of Food
GEOG 227 Ethnogeography of Northwestern BC
GEOL 157 Intro to Northwest Geology
MATH 101 Calculus I:  Differential Calculus
MATH 131 Introduction to Statistics
SOCI 101 Introductory Sociology I 
SOCI 102  Introductory Sociology II 

ACE Certificate Option

Students may exit the program and receive an ACE Certificate upon the completion of 24 credits of course work, of which a minimum of 12 credits must be ACE courses.  To discuss this option, please contact the ACE Program Coordinator or an Educational Advisor for details.

ACE Post-Degree Diploma Requirements 

**Students holding a B.Sc degree and complete the following requirements will be eligible to earn a ACE-POST-DEGREE DIPLOMA; The B.Sc must include: 6 credits 1st year chemistry; 6 credits 1st year biology, and 6 credits 2nd year biology .

ACE Post-Degree Course Requirements  Recommended Courses
12 Credits NWCC 2nd year Earth and Science Courses  OCGY 208, OCGY 209, BIOL 211, BIOL 2xx 
3 Credits in GIS  GEOG 204 
12 Credits ACE XXX

ACE 134
ACE 141 
ACE 142 
ACE 154 
ACE 175 
ACE 182 
ACE 196 

3 Credits ACE or other NWCC course  Please refer to the academic schedule or list above. 

Please contact the ACE Program Coordinator to work out details and timing of your specific program of studies. 

In order to meet the changing demands of the industry, the  ACE program periodically makes small course modifications and adjustments to the timing of course offerings.

Career Opportunities 

Students gain the knowledge and practical skills to acquire employment a large variety of employers including, Environmental Organizations, Federal Government (i.e. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and others), Provincial Government, Environmental Consulting Firms, First Nations Governments, Government Funded Programs, Mariculture and Forestry Industries, Eco-tourism, and International Development projects.

2016 Student Summer Employment

ACE Oona River Field Trip

Example Jobs

  • DFO Stock Assessment Technician
  • Nisgaa Fisheries Management
  • Northcoast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society Creel Survey
  • Oona River Fish Hatchery
  • Archipelago Marine Research
  • Babine Lake Stock Assessment
  • Assistant Forester
  • SFU Fisheries Environmental Toxicology Lab

Program Graduates

The ACE program was first initiated in 1996, under the name Coastal Integrated Resources Management (CIRM). It was created in response to growing demands from employers for locally trained experts in the environmental field. In the fall of 2005, the program was expanded and renamed Applied Coastal Ecology to better reflect the new program model.

The ACE program has attracted students from as far away as Japan and Africa, as well as a host of Canadian cities and provinces spanning from coast to coast. A significant portion of of our enrolment comes from outside of Prince Rupert.

ACE graduates are generally well-known for their passion and commitment to the environment and the sustainable management of the great wealth of natural resources found in coastal ecosystems across the planet.

Employment & Career Prospects

Graduates have had exceptional professional and academic opportunities.

100% of graduates have found meaningful employment or have gone on to further their education following completion of the program
83% of graduates who found employment did so in a field related to their studies

We find our graduates engaged in employment across a wide range of related fields:

Consulting Firms

  • Archipelago Marine
  • J.O. Thomas and Associates
  • Oona River Resources Association
  • Triumph Timber
  • First Nations
  • Self-employed contracting

Consulting firms generally look for employees that have both the foundational academic training needed to solve problems, as well as the practical hands-on skills needed to carry out consulting contracts in both field and office settings. Many consulting firms have stated that they prefer to hire graduates who possess hands-on experience/skills as well as the necessary academic training The ACE program has deliberately included a well-integrated mix of both academic and hands-on courses which together create a balance and prepare graduates to be effective and efficient and hit the ground running.


  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Ministry of Air, Land and Water
  • First Nations governments
  • Local municipal governments
  • Teaching institutions

The ACE program utilizes various government agencies. Government representatives are used as guest lecturers and also serve as expert advisors on the program’s advisory committee. The committee has representation from several levels of government - from local to federal. This ensures the program’s curriculum remains up to date with governmental policies and procedures and makes ACE grads an attractive prospect to these agencies.

Private Industry

  • Technologists and biologists at mariculture operations ranging from Marine Harvest Canada to smaller-scale private operations
  • BC Hydro and any other organization that requires environmental monitoring as part of their business
  • Wildlife protection and fish-stream enhancement offices
  • Non-governmental environmental organizations such as World Wildlife Fund, T Buck Suzuki Foundation, and EcoTrust Canada
  • Guiding or working as wildlife interpreters for eco-tourism operations
  • Various forestry operations
  • Laboratory technicians
  • A variety of international placements.

The growth of coastal ecology related opportunities with private industry has experienced a significant increase in recent years. Graduates have done exceptionally well in these settings, and in some cases make up the bulk of the technical expertise for such employers.

Admission Requirements 
  1. Apply direct to Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE)
  2. Submit proof of English 12 or equivalent.
  3. Once admitted, register in the courses required for the ACE program.

Course prerequisites include:

  • Biology 11
  • Chemistry 11
  • Math 11

The prerequisites for individual courses are outlined in the course descriptions. Students missing prerequisites may enrol in Career & College Preparation (CCP) upgrading courses while completing the program.

English proficiency is required for all students entering NWCC programs.  Please visit our English Language Alternatives page to see how this requirement can be met. 

Note:  Grade 12 high school graduation is recommended. 

Need help with the application process?  Contact an Educational Advisor.

Dates and Locations 

Intakes:  September and January.  

Campus location:  Prince Rupert.

Study on a full or part-time basis.  Field School courses are available in the spring and summer.  

Note: Speak with an Educational Advisor for assistance with course selection.

Program Fees 

ACE Diploma Program Fees

Students should note that the most common academic schedule is 35 credits per year to complete the diploma; which requires successful completion of 70 credits. The certificate may be completed in 24 credits, and those fees are not displayed.  Please contact the ACE Program Coordinator for details.

FEES Full-Time Domestic (35 Credits) Full-Time International (35 Credits) 
Tuition: $3,195.85 $13,582.36
*Student Union Fees: $122.58 $122.58
Mandatory Fees (includes 24 credits of required lab fees):


Health Insurance:  Not Applicable  $230.00
Tuition and Mandatory Fees Total: $4,005.27 $14,671.78
**Books: $800.00 $800.00
**Tools: $100.00 $100.00
**Field School Fees: $800.00 $800.00
Lab Fee per course with required lab (Lab fees are mandatory and cannot be waived. These non-refundable fees also apply to students with lab exemptions. Number of required labs may differ with course selection choice): $43.95 $43.95
Estimated Program Cost: $5,705.27 $16,371.78

Fees are effective as of August 2, 2017
*These fees are term based and may vary due to the length of the program.
**Please note that these are approximate costs and may vary depending on courses taken.

ACE Post-Degree Diploma Fees

Students can complete the Post-Degree Diploma in 1 year.

FEES Full-Time Domestic (30 Credits) Full-Time International (30 Credits) 
Tuition: $2,739.30 $11,642.03
*Student Union Fees: $81.72 $81.72
Mandatory Fees (includes 15 credits of required lab fees):


Health Insurance:  Not Applicable  $230.00
Tuition and Mandatory Fees Total: $3,259.02 $12,441.75
**Books: $800.00 $800.00
**Tools: $100.00 $100.00
**Field School Fees: $800.00 $800.00
Lab Fee per course with required lab (Lab fees are mandatory and cannot be waived. These non-refundable fees also apply to students with lab exemptions. Number of required labs may differ with course selection choice): $43.95 $43.95
Estimated Program Cost: $4,959.02 $14,141.75

Fees are effective as of August 2, 2017
*These fees are term based and may vary due to the length of the program.
**Please note that these are approximate costs and may vary depending on courses taken.