Learning and education have been important components in the development of Nelson, and continue to be of growing significance today. Nelson is home to three campuses of Selkirk College, a region-wide community college system that offers university and career preparation, continuing education courses, trades and technical training, and arts education. The 10th Street campus houses the School of Digital Media & Music and the School of Hospitality & Tourism; the Silver King campus is the focus for the School of Industry, Trades & Training and Adult Basic Education; and the downtown campus of Kootenay School of the Arts provides students with studio-based training in fibre, metal work, visual arts, clay and jewellery making.

Public education in Nelson is governed by School District #8 (Kootenay Lake). The city has three elementary, one middle and one high school, as well as the Central Education Centre, the hub of the Distance Education program and home to the Wildflower alternative school.

Nelson's alternative educational facilities include two independent schools, St. Joseph Catholic School and the Nelson Christian Community School, a francophone elementary school, L'Ecole des Sentiers-Alpins, the Nelson Waldorf School, and SelfDesign High, which offers an online and classroom-based grade 10 through 12 program.

Founded in 1996, the Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences offers three-year programs in herbalism and acupuncture, a four- and five-year Traditional Chinese Medicine program and distance education in Chinese herbal medicine. The Kootenai Art Therapy Institute was founded in 1995, and offers a two-year post-BA program that integrates art therapy practice, theory and research.

For information on daycare and early years programs, contact the Kootenay Kids Society.

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