WSET Wine & Spirit Education Trust

WSET Level 4 Diploma FAQ

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Enrollment Questions

Do I need to hold the WSET Level 3 prior to starting Diploma?

Yes, WSET will not let you enroll in Level 4 Diploma until you have officially received your pass grade for the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines Course.

I am awaiting my Level 3 exam results and expect to pass, can I still register?

No, you must have received your Level 3 results before registering. If you register before receiving your results your registration will be cancelled and your tuition will be refunded, minus an administrative fee.

Can I take another unit before Unit 2 Wine Production?

No, the WSET requires you to first sit the Unit 2 exam before doing any other Diploma Unit exam or paper – including Unit 1. That may sound odd, as you would think that you should start with Unit 1, but the Diploma units are not done in sequential order. Unit 2 must come first.

What study materials come with my tuition and what do I need to get on my own?

For each unit, the WSET publishes a study guide outlining what you need to know for that Unit. However, students are expected to do their own research and study beyond what is provided in the study guides. There are a list of recommended books, websites, and trade journals that students should use to supplement their studies. Students will also need to source and purchase wines for their studies to supplement classroom learning. Please see the Specification for recommended tasting samples.

How long do I have to complete all Diploma units?

When you enroll in the Level 4 Diploma it is for a term of 3 years. If you need to take more than 3 years to complete the program, you must pay a candidate renewal fee (subject to WSET approval).

Can I receive college credit for the Diploma?

The Napa Valley Wine Academy is not a university degree-granting institution and the Diploma is not an accredited program. The WSET Level 4 Diploma is considered a professional certification.

Can you help international students obtain a Student Visa if they enroll in the Diploma program?

No, the Diploma program does not require a residency in the United States, the Napa Valley Wine Academy is not a university degree-granting institution, and the Diploma is not an accredited program so Diploma students are not eligible for student visas to study in the US.

Is it possible to finish the Diploma in 12 months?

No. The reason for this is that it would be impossible to get all the Unit exams completed in 12 months, given the way they are scheduled by the WSET. More practically, the Level 4 Diploma is a very comprehensive and challenging course of study and thus it takes at least 18 months to complete. The average time to completion is 2-2.5 years.

I want to do both online and in-person, how do I do this?

Please contact us for instructions on how to do this.

Course Questions

Can I switch providers/schools for individual Diploma units?

The WSET expects you to complete the Level 4 Diploma with the provider you originally enroll with. If that provider is not offering a unit or unit exam that you need it is ok to take it with another provider. If you move to another provider’s area you may also switch to that provider.

When do traditional in-person classes meet?

The in-person courses meet on select weekends from 9AM-5PM throughout the year. This scheduling allows for people who live a distance from the class location to attend.

Can I do some units online and some in-person?

Yes, you may choose to do some units online and some in-person.

How long is each unit?

You should plan on studying for Units 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 for about 3 months each. Plan on at least 6 months of study for Unit 3.
Please note that your online course or in-person classes are not the only time you need to study. It is expected that you are studying before and after your classes for the recommended amount of study hours per unit.

How do I do tastings in the online classroom?

For online students, Napa Valley Wine Academy will provide opportunities to learn the tasting method via live webinars for each of the units with a tasting component. In the online classroom, students will have a forum that they can submit tasting notes to for feedback from their WSET instructor. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to submit Feedback Tests which has a mock tasting exam question that is graded by a WSET grader. Students will be expected to purchase wines on their own, although a list of recommended samples will be provided by NVWA.

Exam Questions

What happens if I can’t make an exam date?

Exam dates are set globally by the WSET headquarters, not by Napa Valley Wine Academy. Thus they are not flexible. Exam registrations are due to WSET 8 weeks prior to the exam date. If you give less than 8 weeks notice to opt out of your scheduled exam you cannot get out of taking it. The only exceptions are for documented medical or legal excuses. If you miss an exam it goes down as a “non-attend,” which is the same as a fail. You will need to pay for the exam when it is next offered, which may not be for a year. Exam dates are published well in advance so you really need to schedule your life around these dates.

When are exams?

Exam dates and times for most units are set globally by the WSET headquarters and are on weekdays. Unit 2 Wine Production is the only unit that the Napa Valley Wine Academy is allowed to specify exam dates for, which we usually schedule on a Saturday morning.

Can I just take the exam without doing the course?

No, students are required to attend the course, whether online or in-person before sitting for that unit’s exam.

What happens if I don’t pass the first unit exam (Unit 2)?

You may still proceed to other units as long as you have taken the Unit 2 exam. If you do not pass the exam you are able to schedule a retake, however, you do not have to wait until that retake before moving on to other units.

How many times can I resit an exam?

There are no limits on the number of retakes per unit.

Can accommodations be made for me if I have a physical or learning disability that may impact my performance on the exam?

Yes, the WSET does allow accommodations on exams, usually in the form of extra time on the exam. Other accommodations are available as well on a case-by-case basis. You will need to provide written confirmation from a medical professional documenting the disability, which must be received by the WSET at the time of your initial Diploma registration.

Are the Unit 1 exam and the Unit 1 paper connected?

No, these are two separate assessments, each counting for 50% of your Unit 1 grade. They are based on different topics and have unique due dates. They do not have to be completed together. For Diploma Candidates that start their Diploma studies on or after January 2019, there will be no Unit 1 paper assignment — it will now be the D6 Research Assignment.