Social Service Worker

Post-Secondary Programs
Credential Earned: College Diploma (2 Year)
Campus: Timmins, Distance
Program Length: 4 Semesters

Program Codes
A007-PC (Timmins Campus)
A104-CK (Distance)


Be there when your community needs you most

With Northern’s two-year Social Service Worker diploma, you’ll graduate ready to help individuals, families, and communities as they cope with — and work through some of life’s most stressful events.

Focused on collaboration and teamwork, the evidence-based curriculum reveals the complex influences that affect human development and behaviour. It also provides you with the tools you’ll need to make a difference.

You’ll master conflict management, develop strategies and skills to intervene in a crisis, and through the development of holistic and culturally-sensitive healing plans that will help chart a new course for those in your care.

Theory will be put into practice through a series of clinical labs and a 15-week placement with a social services agency. It all adds up to a rewarding journey of self-awareness and professional growth which starts here at Northern College.

The SSW program provides a double diploma option with our Addiction and Mental Health Worker program.

This program is offered completely online, with on-campus support and services if desired.


Career Opportunities
Social Service Workers are commonly employed by government agencies and social service agencies. Graduates are eligible to register with Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Web site:

Provincial Registration
In order to practice in Ontario as a “Social Service Worker” or a “Registered Social Service Worker”, graduates must apply for registration in the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Graduates of the SSW program will meet the education requirement for registration. For more information, please visit


Contact Information

Tara Duclos
Program Coordinator
Tel: 705-235-3211 ext. 2138


Admission Requirements

General Admission Requirements

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent
  • Grade 12 English (C, U) (Minimum 60% GPA required) or equivalent
  • Computer proficiency in Microsoft Office (word processing), web search engines and e-mail systems.


Academic prerequisites for this program may be obtained free of charge through Academic Upgrading.

Applicants who do not have a high school diploma or equivalent and will have reached the age of 19 years on or before the start of the program must undergo academic testing and may be required to complete Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR) process to demonstrate equivalency of admission requirements prior to admission into a program.

For more details, please contact the Admissions Office at 705-235-7222 or

Additional Requirements for International Students

In addition to the general admission requirements, international students must have proof of English Proficiency and meet the requirements below.

1. Proof of Senior High School Diploma/Certificate

2. English Proficiency (we will require one of the following):

  • IELT Academic International English Language Testing System: a minimum overall score of 6.0 must be achieved with only one band at 5.5.
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) – Computer-based overall minimum score of 79
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English) Academic – Graduate Diploma: 58+

If your country of citizenship has English as its official language, we may accept alternate proof of English Proficiency.

3. CO-OP Work Permit is mandatory for this program to participate in unpaid program placements.

All educational documents must be submitted in English and will be dependent on the country of citizenship.

For more information, please contact

Additional Information

A passing grade of 60% is required for all Community Services core courses and electives. To succeed in this program, students must be highly motivated, highly committed and physically and mentally fit.


Fieldwork Placement

A current Police Vulnerable Sector screening: Applicants can expect to wait a minimum of 6-8 weeks to receive a Police Check.

A recent criminal/vulnerable sector reference check – (within 3 months) maybe required in Semester II of the program prior to the start of classes in January.

To be eligible for participation in field work practice, students must not have been convicted of any criminal offence for which that person has not been pardoned. An unpardoned criminal record may result in inability to participate in fieldwork practice courses and will prevent the student from graduating. Any costs for these tests/certifications will be the responsibility of the applicant.

In order to prepare you for fieldwork placement, you will be required to have a current resume and cover letter. Fieldwork placement (FWP) agencies may require additional documentation in order for you to begin FWP. The specific documents will be made known to you in your Reflective Practice course.

It is important to note that this program requires a fieldwork component. While the intent is for placements to be arranged in the student’s own community, when this is not possible, alternate communities will need to be considered. Students are responsible for the costs of travel to and from field work placement sites, parking costs, etc. A dress code is in effect during all lab practice sessions and during the field work component of the programs. All theory and lab course work must be successfully completed prior to field work placements.

Semester 1
CM1913 Communications I – Model B

Communications 1 is designed to enhance students’ writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills as required in academic and workplace settings. Emphasis will be placed on the use of appropriate structure, writing conventions, tone and style as well as the enhancement of interpersonal, teamwork, and presentation skills. Topics covered include the three-step writing process, paragraph development, academic integrity, essay composition, grammar and mechanics, A.P.A. and employment documents. Attention to detail is emphasized.

SW1014 Working on Teams and in Groups

This course will provide an interactive environment to enable students to develop group leadership and collaborative group work skills and to critically reflect on interprofessional teamwork. Students in this course will work with and in groups to explore theories relevant to group dynamics and group facilitation. Students will apply theories learned in a lab setting which will examine group dynamics, leadership styles, group conflict management as well as forming and facilitating groups.

SW1024 Social Service Worker Practice I

Social Service Workers communicate with service users in a variety of challenging and complex situations. This course is designed to assist students in acquiring the knowledge and skills to build and maintain a working alliance with service users through skilled communication. Students will develop a broad understanding of the role that emotions play in communication, more specifically, how to recognize and respond to individuals experiencing heightened emotional states. In this course, students will also learn how to effectively communicate with service users of diverse capacities and needs. This course is designed with a one-hour lab component which allows students the opportunity to partner the theoretical aspect with the practical skills, which will enhance learning

SW1063 Introduction to Social Welfare in Canada

In this course, students will study the historical, theoretical and philosophical frameworks that underpin Social Welfare in Canada. Students will study the Indigenous, French and English traditions that have led to the current social safety net in Canada. Students will begin their journey to becoming Social Service Workers by exploring the different models used to work with individuals, families and groups, as well as the fields of Social Service Work available to them after graduation.

SW1073 Understanding Power, Privilege & Oppression

Anti-Oppressive Practice (AOP) and Structural Social Work (STSW) are the philosophical basis for Northern College’s Social Service Worker Program. In this course, students will begin to understand their own social location, the concepts of Privilege and Oppression and the impact of these on marginalized people with whom Social Service Workers work. The concept of “Private Troubles versus Public Problems” will assist students to understand their role in working to change systems that oppress people.

SW1083 Record Keeping and Report Writing

Skilled and comprehensive documentation is a feature of the human services profession that is necessary to be able to provide quality and ethical care. In this course, students will be introduced to record keeping and report writing and the important features that the documentation should include. Students will be encouraged to develop an approach to writing which is based on the writer’s purpose, audience and the context of the communication. Students will take a hands on approach to documentation, practicing the skills acquired, while using the structural and anti-oppressive lens’ to inform the tone of their documentation.

SW1093 Human Behaviour and the Social Environment

This course explores human development across the life span in the context of bio-psycho-social influences, including theories and knowledge about the range of social systems in which individuals live and diversity of human behaviour throughout the life cycle. Students will develop an understanding of the interactions between and among biophysical, social, psychological, and cultural systems as they affect human development and shape individual values, beliefs, worldviews and identities.

General Education Elective

General Education Courses are selected online each semester by the student from a list provided and exposes students to a related area of study outside of their immediate academic discipline. Certain programs have predetermined electives. 

Semester 2
CM2913 Communications II – Model B

Communications 2 is a one-semester course that applies the oral and written communication tools learned in COMM1  required by the workplace. The student will enhance the writing skills acquired in COMM1 and continue to learn to produce effective documents including business letters, emails, employment documents as well as reports applicable to their field of study. Students will also participate in mock interviews (as applicable) so that they are prepared to transition into the competitive employment market. Students will continue to learn and apply proper language and grammatical structures and apply editing strategies including APA to documents through both in-class/online activities and through the usage of the customized Mylab online grammar tool. As with COMM1, the content will be inclusive and reflect the diverse workplace that students will experience in the future.

*Students for whom English is not their first language will receive additional language support through the concurrent delivery of CM2933 (Enhanced Comm2) which focuses on the foundational grammar, punctuation and sentence structure skills essential to academic success.

SW2024 Social Service Worker Practice II

This course is designed to build on the knowledge and skills acquired in Social Service Work Practice I relating to skilled communication. In this course, students will develop the practical skills of assessment, planning, intervention, review and evaluation. Students will also study a variety of practice theories and models compatible with the philosophical basis of Anti-Oppressive Practice (AOP) and Structural Social Work (STSW) and understand the importance of using theory in everyday practice. This course is designed with a one-hour lab component which allows students the opportunity to practice the skills being taught in order to enhance learning.

SW2073 Working with Indigenous Peoples

This course is intended to assist the student to develop the capacity to work with Indigenous individuals, families, groups and communities. Students will examine the impacts of trauma and colonization for Indigenous peoples and communities by gaining an in-depth understanding of the residential school system, the 60s’s scoop and intergenerational trauma. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to identify culturally safe practice considerations and assist in the development of holistic healing plans that incorporate appropriate cultural resources. Students will connect the concepts learned in two other courses: Trauma-Informed Care and Crisis; and Understanding Power, Privilege and Oppression in Social Service Work to this course in order to be able to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous individuals, family and communities while recognizing the impact of their own privilege on these relationships.

SW2083 Community Health and Development

The importance of Social Service Workers being able to navigate and work within communities at a macro level is imperative to the human services field. This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and theories used within community organization and development. Community service learning is incorporated where students will do an analysis of the health of their community (using the social determinants of health as a guide. Based on the results students will develop a plan to address their findings, using a structural and anti-oppressive lens to inform their work.

SW2093 Social Policy and Legislation in Social Service Work

Social Service Workers interact with social policy and legislation that impacts vulnerable and oppressed people on a daily basis. This course will provide students the opportunity to learn about government structure, political ideology, social policy and legislation in Canada. These concepts will be viewed through the lens of Anti-Oppressive Practice with a view to learning how to make structural change that improves life conditions for marginalized groups.

SW2103 Social Problems in a Diverse Society

This course uses sociological perspectives to introduce students to specific social concerns in Canada ranging from poverty, drug addiction, and racism to inequalities based on age, gender, ability, and sexual orientation. Students will examine social problems from both individual and institutional perspectives, while considering their persistence. Historically and currently employed strategies to improve social conditions will be addressed.

SW3103 Interprofessional Collaboration

Social Service Workers perform a variety of roles in diverse occupational settings in which they are expected to work collaboratively with other professionals from other fields of study. Using a variety of current theoretical frameworks, this course will introduce students to the daunting task of interprofessional practice within the field of social services. This course is designed to help students understand how profession-driven differences can cause difficulties and challenges to interprofessional collaboration. Additionally, in this course, students will develop the skills necessary to overcome some of these challenges and engage in effective interprofessional collaborative practice.

General Education Elective

General Education Courses are selected online each semester by the student from a list provided and exposes students to a related area of study outside of their immediate academic discipline. Certain programs have predetermined electives. 

Semester 3
SW2042 Social Service Worker Practice II Lab

This integrated course is designed to provide students the opportunity to practice the skills learned in Social Service Work Practice I and II. It is offered in an intensive four-day format where students are emerged in an interactive setting in which theory can be applied directly in a safe and comfortable learning environment. In this course, student will also have the opportunity to critically reflect on their progress thus far and develop goals moving forward in the program.

SW3093 Preparation for Placement

This course is designed to assist students to prepare for and secure a placement. Students will continue their journey of self-awareness, self-reflection and professional growth as Anti-Oppressive Social Service Workers. Students will learn the importance of fieldwork placement as a tool to blend real life experience with the theory they have learned in the classroom.

SW3113 Working with Diverse Families

This course will examine how to work with and support Canadian families in contemporary society. Using an anti-oppressive and structural lens: students will examine challenges that Canadian families are facing and develop an awareness of the principles and values that guide human service practice with families. The many layers affecting families will be discussed, including (but not limited to); coupling, marriage, parenting, divorce and blended families. Students will be encouraged to examine their own family systems in light of the contemporary theories of family.

SW3123 Trauma-Informed Care and Crisis

This course is designed to introduce students to a variety of concepts related to trauma, trauma informed practice, crisis and crisis intervention. Students will adopt a trauma informed perspective as part of their Social Service Worker practice. Through case studies and role plays, students will learn how to be employ crisis intervention skills in a culturally appropriate manner. This course will build on the microskills that students have acquired in SSW Practice I, SSW Practice II and SSW Practice II Lab. Students will have the unique opportunity to apply their skills in different mock crisis situations.

SW3133 Addiction and Mental Health

Concurrent Disorders is a term used to describe cases where a person is struggling with both mental health and substance abuse. People who are struggling with mental health are significantly more likely to abuse substances. The inverse is also true, making it paramount that students learn how to work with and support this population. This course will introduce students to the nature of concurrent disorders; discuss competencies related to inter-professional collaboration and explore cultural and societal influences that impact people experiencing concurrent disorders. Students will have an opportunity to hear from experts in the field and participate in activities to help build their own capacity to be able to work with those affected by co-occurring disorders.

SW3143 Program Evaluation and Proposal Writing

This course introduces the Evidence Based Practice (EBP) paradigm by examining Program Evaluation in the context of the Community Services field of work. Students will be given the opportunity to apply the steps involved in EBP which includes posing practice-relevant questions and accessing and evaluating the evidence that answers these questions. The course continues by covering the basics of program design and proposal writing to provide students with opportunities to practice grant writing for sustainable services in the non-profit sector.

SW3153 Interpersonal Violence

This course focuses on the historical, social and cultural contexts of interpersonal violence in Canada. Students will acquire a broad understanding of child abuse and neglect, violence against women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, and intimate partner violence. This knowledge will then be applied to social service work interventions. In this course, students will also explore the social challenges of reducing and ultimately preventing interpersonal violence in the future.

General Education Elective

General Education Courses are selected online each semester by the student from a list provided and exposes students to a related area of study outside of their immediate academic discipline. Certain programs have predetermined electives. 

Semester 4
SW4041 SSW Fieldwork Placement

This is a cooperative endeavour between the College SSW program and various community social services agencies. Students are placed in agencies under supervision of the agency, and partnered with a member of the college faculty team for a 15-week/500-hour duration. The final grade will be determined by the faculty member through regular interaction with both the student and workplace supervisor. The objective is to provide students with a practical opportunity to integrate and apply entry-level knowledge of practice theories and models compatible with the philosophical basis of Anti-Oppressive Practice and Structural Social Work, utilizing core values and skills.

SW4051 SSW Fieldwork Seminar

Students, while on work placement, will have a variety of experiences in agency settings, child welfare, mental health, custody settings, health care settings, government and municipal services, school settings, etc. They will work to solidify and practice a variety of critical skills, professional relationship building, interventions, counselling approaches, self-evaluation, self-care, and professional development. Students will take part in Fieldwork Seminars one day a month throughout the placement in order to integrate their experiences in the field with the theories they learned in the classroom.

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