Social Service Worker
Available as a two-year program (SSWP); or accelerated stream for applicants with diploma or degree incorporating psychology and/or sociology (SSWA)
Two-year Ontario College Diploma
- Start Date
September and January entry
Find your career
Social Service Workers work with adults, seniors, children, families and youth in need of support. Prepare for a variety of job opportunities:
- Case workers.
- Social service positions with municipal, provincial and federal governments.
- Front-line workers in group homes, employment offices, corrections, residential treatment programs, community agencies, business and industry.
- Social Service Worker is a registered professional title that may only be used by members in good standing of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.
Our grads get great jobs
- Program Facilitator, Canadian Mental Health Association
- Family Support Worker, Children’s Aid Society
- Residential Staff, Bayfield Treatment Centres
- Coordinator for Social Service Programs, Community Care for Seniors
- Social Services Caseworker and Employment Counsellor, Ontario Works
Is it for you?
Does this sound like you? Students who thrive in social service work are:
- Passionate about helping others.
- Seeking new challenges.
- Able to draw strength from their own life experiences.
- Interested in opportunities for personal growth.
- Incorporate theory and practice with extensive group work.
- Develop essential skills in human relations, interpersonal communication, needs assessment and critical thinking.
- Practise interviewing and counselling skills in a soundproof lab with a two-way mirror for observation and feedback.
- As well as faculty instruction, the opportunity to learn from guest speakers working in probation and parole, crisis shelters, seniors' facilities, Ontario Works and other community agencies.
- Rate your strengths and areas of greater focus with ongoing self-assessment.
Outstanding faculty make the difference
- Learn with dedicated, caring faculty with front-line experience in a variety of human service settings.
- Professors with backgrounds in child protection, prevention programming, addiction, corrections, social services and family counselling continue to work in their fields, bringing the most up-to-date industry knowledge and practices to the classroom.
- Find the right job experience for your career path, working with our dedicated SSW placement coordinator.
Courses listed below reflect the SSWP program of study. For SSWA (accelerated stream) course details, please contact the program coordinator at email@example.com.
- First Year - Semester One
- COMM1048 College Writing Skills
- This course focuses on writing and research skills required for successful completion of college-level studies. The course will promote development and improvement of research and writing skills that can be applied to students’ chosen programs of study.
- SSWP1002 Delivering Human Services
- Students will learn to broker and advocate for appropriate access to resources to assist individuals, families, groups and communities through the creation of professional networks, while identifying current social policy, relevant legislation and political, social and/or economic systems and acknowledging their impacts on service delivery.
- PSYC1015 Development Across the Lifespan
- Students are introduced to the scientific study of human development across the lifespan as it applies to the role of a social service worker. Students examine the biological, cognitive, and psychosocial variables that affect human development and behaviour. Students also explore the impact of genetics and environment on developmental outcomes from conception to death. Student identify and evaluate strategies to prevent and overcome challenges and barriers to healthy development.
- SSWP1000 Relational Approach to Awareness
- This is a structured learning experience which is designed to facilitate the examination of intrapersonal and interpersonal self-awareness and the acquisition of knowledge and comprehension to help manage within an ever changing and diversified world.
- SOCI1007 Sociological Foundations of Social Service Work
- This course is designed to help participants recognize diverse needs and experiences of individuals, groups, families and communities in the context of social policy, political, social and/or economic systems and their impacts on service delivery.
- SSWP1010 Theory of Relationship Development
- The ability to work effectively in a team-oriented social service environment is an essential aspect of human service work and a critical employability skill. This course introduces learners to the theory of group work using an experiential approach. The structured learning experiences will enable learners to develop their group skills and become proactive and productive members of a team.
- First Year - Semester Two
- COMM1055 Diversity, Marginalization & Oppression
- This course will enable students to recognize the diverse needs and experiences of individuals, groups, families and communities and identify change strategies that promote social and economic justice and challenge patterns of oppression and discrimination.
- ETHI1016 Ethical Considerations & Professional. Development
- Students will be exposed to the knowledge, skills and values associated with practice in an agency setting. Students will also be assisted in the process of selecting a field practicum which responds to each individual's interests and needs. Students will examine the role of a professional social service worker with the context of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Students will develop appropriate professional decision-making skills through the lens of the Professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Students will develop professional career readiness through job search plans, job interview skills and preparation of career search documentation.
- WKPL1017 Field Placement 1
- This course introduces the learner to the types of roles, responsibilities, and strategies a social service worker requires when working with service recipients and interdisciplinary teams.
- COUN1030 Foundational Concepts in Interviewing & Counselling
- This course is designed to help participants recognize the need to develop and maintain professional relationships, identify strengths, resources and challenges of individuals, families, groups and communities to assist them in achieving their goals.
- SOCI1008 Social Engagement & Advocacy
- This course supports the development of an inclusive practice framework for social service workers including social policy, law and a range of problem-solving methods that promote human rights, social justice and social cohesion.
- PSYC1005 The Mental Health Continuum
Students examine the causes of abnormal behavior, psychological factors and physical illness as well as major psychological disorders. This course is not intended to help students solve behavioural or emotional problems requiring professional assessment and response.
Prerequisite: PSYC 1015
- GNED General Education Elective
- General Education Courses
- Second Year - Semester Three
- COUN2022 Applied Concepts: Interviewing & Counselling
This course focuses on progressive learning of communication and supportive counselling skills. A programmed approach to advance development of interview skills is combined with the use of digital recording and self-assessment. Topics covered include learning to structure a full counselling interview, understanding the skills required, and the ability to assess competencies and plan improvement strategies.
Prerequisite: COUN 1030
- SSWP2006 Case Management
- This course focuses on the case management skills required for the field of social service work. Students will identify strengths and challenges of the service receipt to assist them in achieving their goals. The student will learn the case management process and the responsibilities and roles associated with client service delivery from intake to termination. Students will examine the legal and ethical rights and responsibilities of clients and workers in the field of social service work.
- WKPL2043 Field Practicum 2
This course will provide learners with an opportunity to apply their knowledge of social service work through an in-depth inquiry into the types, breadth and requirements for specific placements within the SSW field through a robust collaborative planning process with the placement coordinator and faculty. In a supervised environment, students will begin to explore opportunities to execute critical professional performance elements, such as in-person assessment, advocacy, collaboration and documentation, all within the OCSWSSW scope of practice.
Prerequisite: WKPL 1017
- SOCI2005 Working with Families
- Participants will examine the multiple variations in family structure and the changing role of the Canadian family in today’s society. Various styles and problems of modern family living will be explored using current literature and personal life experiences. The course will focus on issue and personal awareness and implications for service delivery using family-centred and strength-based approaches.
- GNED General Education Elective
- General Education Courses
- Second Year - Semester Four
- SSWP2010 Building Community Capacity
- This course is about community development and promoting social change and social justice. Learners will learn about social activism and how individuals and movements have had major positive impacts in changing oppressive practices. Learners will be able to identify community needs and gaps in service, design a program to address the need and write a formal funding proposal.
- COUN2023 Counselling for SSW
Building on skills gained in previous counselling courses, the student will enhance their awareness of the conscious use of self in a professional helping relationship while focusing on advanced skills of problem and strengths assessment, intervention, evaluation and termination. A programmed approach for learning more in-depth communication skills is enhanced with the use of VTR equipment, peer and faculty feedback.
Prerequisite: COUN 2022
- WKPL2044 Field Placement 3
This course will provide learners with an opportunity to extend their existing knowledge of placement through an in-depth inquiry into the types, breadth and requirements for specific placements within the SSW field through a robust collaborative planning process with the placement coordinator. In a supervised environment, students will continue to explore opportunities to execute critical professional performance elements, such as in-person assessment, advocacy, collaboration and documentation, all within the OCSWSSW scope of practice.
Prerequisite: WKPL 2043
- GNED General Education Elective
- General Education Courses
*Courses subject to change.
Turn your diploma into a degree
Many universities across Canada and abroad will provide credit recognition for your diploma studies at Loyalist. The following is a list of agreements that are currently in place. There are many more options, and new agreements are added annually. Contact your university of choice to make individual arrangements.
- Algoma University — B.A.; B.B.A.; B.Sc.; Bach. Computer Science
- Athabasca University – Bachelor of Professional Arts in Human Studies
- Brock University — B.A. (Honours) Psychology or Women's and Gender Studies
- Carleton University – B.S.W.; B.A.
- Conestoga College — Bach. Community and Criminal Justice
- Davenport University – B.A. Health Services Administration
- Griffith University – Bachelor of Human Services; B.S.W.
- Institutes of Technology Ireland
- Lakehead University — B.S.W. (Honours)
- Laurentian University — B.S.W.; Bach. Gerontoloty; Bach. Native Human Services
- Laurier Brantford – any honours program
- Nipissing University — B.A.
- Ryerson University – B.A. Disability Studies; B.S.W.
- Seneca College — Bach. Interdisciplinary Studies
- University of Guelph – B.A.Sc. (Honours) Family and Community Social Services
- Ontario Tech University —B.A. (Honours) Forensic Psychology or Legal Studies; B.A. Adult Education and Digital Technology
- University of Waterloo — various*
- Wilfrid Laurier University — various*
- University of Windsor — B.A. (General or Honours); B.A. (Honours) Disability Studies; B.S.W.
- York University — various*
*Various potential degree pathways. Please confirm details with the receiving institution.
How much will it cost?
Approximate costs (2019 – 20)
- Domestic Tuition: $2,722.08
- Full-Time Ancillary Fees:* $1,301
- Total: $4,023.08
- Additional Program Costs: Approximately $200 - $250
Additional costs, such as supplies, travel and parking, may be incurred during workplace visits, etc. Some placements may require transportation, a valid driver’s licence, and/or access to a motor vehicle.
*Please visit the Tuition and Fees web page for a list of the many services, activities and items included within the ancillary fees, and the related policies.
Bursaries and financial assistance
Loyalist has a number of scholarships, bursaries and academic awards available to students. Our Financial Aid Office can help you explore your options, or assist you with a student loan.
Required academic preparation
- OSSD/OSSGD or equivalent with courses at the general, advanced, (C), (U) or (M) level, AND
- Grade 12 English (C) level or equivalent
- Standard First Aid and Level “C” CPR certification.
- Current criminal Record Check and Vulnerable Sector Check.
- Prospective students with special needs or limitations that may affect their practicum/field placement or potential employment opportunities are encouraged to discuss their program and career goals with faculty prior to admission.
- Strong computer and communication skills (written and oral) are critical.
- You must be prepared for full-time studies and placement, and a heavy workload. The program is academically and emotionally demanding. The field of social service work requires proficiency in time management and stress management
Accelerated program (SSWA)
- An accelerated program is available to applicants with a related university degree and/or a diploma in Child and Youth Care, General Arts and Science with a social service focus, or Justice Studies, with 70% average or higher.
- Program requirements can be completed in three semesters, with a mix of first- and second-year courses in the fall and winter, and three placements.
- For more information please see our information on credit transfers.
Prior learning assessment and recognition
Applicants with work experiences or other types of non-credentialed learning may be eligible for credits at Loyalist. Graded credits (as opposed to exemptions) are granted. Click here for more information about our assessment and credit challenge process.
Click here for information about how to apply, international student fees and more.
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