Social Service Worker

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

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

The Social Service Worker (SSW) diploma is a two-year diploma program. Students will graduate ready to help individuals, families, and communities as they cope with and work through some of life’s most stressful events. Through an anti-oppressive lens, the evidence-based curriculum delves into current social issues impacting our communities and provides students with the necessary interpersonal skills required to build and maintain relationships. Students will develop verbal and written communication skills necessary to effectively engage service users in culturally appropriate, person-centered approaches.

In our program, students are given opportunities to put theory into practice, using a collaborative approach, combined with professional labs. The final semester of the program is a 15-week placement in a social service agency. Social Service Workers focus on promoting equity and addressing oppression that people face based on race, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexuality, or age. Social Service Workers in our program will use their knowledge of systemic oppression, colonialism, and trauma to better understand the complexities inherent to the field of social services. Our program prepares students to work with people from diverse backgrounds who are experiencing stressful events in their lives from an anti-oppressive, trauma-informed perspective.

Social Service Worker Distance (A104)

Our distance Social Service Worker Program is offered completely online (A104).  Important information to know before deciding if our online program is right for you:

  • Our SSW distance program is delivered through synchronous teaching (i.e., classes are scheduled throughout the week and students are expected to attend a live teaching session). It is important to note that all classes that have lab components (and some others) have mandatory attendance and participation to be successful in the course.
  • Students who are in our distance program must have a working camera and microphone on their device. This is mandatory for our distance program as it will allow students to participate and engage with classmates and the course material.
  • Our distance students can do their placements in their city/town of their choice, but placements are done in person. Placements are completed in the last semester of our program.

Our Social Service Worker program is rewarding yet challenging. There are opportunities for students to complete the program on a part-time basis.

Contact Information

For questions about being admitted into the program, please contact Northern College Admissions at or by phone at 705-235-3211 ext. 7222.

For questions about the content of the program, contact the Program Coordinator.

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

Student Success & The Northern Experience

Our two-year Social Service Worker diploma, prepares you for a career 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. You’ll master conflict management, develop strategies and skills to intervene in a crisis with holistic and culturally-sensitive healing plans that will help chart a new course for those in your care.

Does this program sound like a good fit for you?

Connect with us to learn more.


Course Information

Course descriptions can be found below.

Please note, course information is based on our current offering and is subject to change. Current students can find more information on courses in their student account.

If you have questions or require program information for previous academic years, please contact the Program Coordinator.

More information can be found in the Program Outline [PDF, 203 KB]. Program Outlines can also be found in the archives.

Program Outline [PDF, 203 KB]

2024-2025 Academic Year

Semester 1

In this course, students will learn essential skills for success in college and the workplace. This course focuses on developing and strengthening oral and written communication skills, and critical thinking ability. During this course, students will engage in a variety of forms of communication with a focus on upholding the principles of academic integrity. Students will develop the skills necessary to create discipline-specific documents, practice business etiquette and professionalism, and apply critical thinking strategies to practical scenarios. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to plan and draft concise, coherent and well-organized writing assignments that are tailored to specific audiences and purposes. 

42 Hours

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.

56 Hours

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.

56 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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. 

42 Hours

Semester 2

In this course, students will develop professional communication skills required for success in the workplace. Students will continue to develop and strengthen their oral and written communication skills and critical thinking abilities. During this course, students will use various modes of communication to complete assignments designed to meet program and professional expectations. Students will utilize a variety of technologies for the purpose of creating a professional presence in a digital environment. Students will develop the necessary skills to create polished workplace documents such as letters, resumes, cover letters and reports tailored to specific audiences. Students will learn to conduct themselves with professionalism in both workplace interviews and job searches.  Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to create clear, concise and coherent workplace and employment documents that are error-free and designed for specific audiences and purposes.  

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

Semester 3

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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.

42 Hours

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. 

42 Hours

Semester 4

This is a cooperative endeavor 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.

525 Hours

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.

28 Hours

Career Ready Graduates

Pathways to Success

Social Service Worker to Addiction and Mental Health Worker Pathway:
Students who have completed the two-year Social Service Worker Diploma at Northern College may be eligible to complete the Addiction and Mental Health Worker Program in one additional year of study.  Please contact the program coordinator, Tara Duclos,  for more information and planning.

Social Service Worker to Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) with Algoma University:
Northern college has a partnership with Algoma University. Students who have completed a Social Service Worker diploma through Northern College can enter the Bachelor of Social Work Program with Algoma University. Students are eligible for up to 60 credits to be transferred into the BSW program, which consists of 120 credits overall.  Please reach out to Tara Duclos, for additional information:

Northern College also has a pathway agreement for students who have completed their Social Service Worker Diploma to enter the Community Development Program (CDEV).  Please reach out to Leah Blanchette, for more information.


  1. Develop respectful and collaborative professional and interpersonal relationships that adhere to professional, legal, and ethical standards aligned to social service work.
  2. Record information accurately and communicate effectively in written, digital, verbal and non-verbal ways, in adherence to privacy and freedom of information legislation, in accordance with professional and workplace standards.
  3. Integrate a practice framework within a service delivery continuum, addressing the needs of individuals, families and communities at micro, mezzo, macro and global levels, and work with them in achieving their goals.
  4. Plan and implement accessible and responsive programs and services, recognizing the diverse needs and experiences of individuals, groups, families and communities, and meeting these needs.
  5. Examine current social policy, relevant legislation, and political, social, historical, and/or economic systems and their impacts for individuals and communities when delivering services to the user/client.
  6. Develop strategies and approaches that support individual clients, groups, families and communities in building the capacity for self-advocacy, while affirming their dignity and self-worth.
  7. Work from an anti-oppressive, strengths-based practice, recognizing the capacity for resilience and growth of individuals and communities when responding to the diverse needs of marginalized or vulnerable populations to act as allies and advocates.
  8. Develop strategies and approaches to implement and maintain holistic self-care as a member of a human service profession.
  9. Work with individuals, groups, families and their communities to ensure that service provider strategies promote social and economic justice, and challenge patterns of oppression, discrimination and harassment, and sexual violence with clients, coworkers and communities.
  10. Develop the capacity to work with the Indigenous individual, families, groups and communities while respecting their inherent rights to self-determine, and to identify and address systemic barriers that produce ill-effects, developing appropriate responses using approaches such as trauma informed care practice.

Articulation Agreements

A number of articulation agreements have been negotiated with universities and other institutions across Canada, North America and internationally. These agreements are assessed, revised and updated on a regular basis. Please contact the program coordinator for specific details if you are interested in pursuing such an option.


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


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:

  • Social service worker
  • Employed by social service and government agencies, mental health agencies, group homes, shelters, substance abuse centres, school boards, and correctional facilities.

Admissions Information & Requirements

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 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):

  • IELTS 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) – Internet Based Test (iBT) 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.

Tuition, Fees & Payments

Tuition and fees are typically updated yearly for the upcoming Academic Year in May.

Current amount may be based on last years amounts and are subject to change. Ancillary fees vary by campus and program.

If the tuition and fee information for international students does not appear on this page, visit to see amounts for general programs.

Please refer to your Student Account for the most up-to-date information.

Student Year Campus Program Code Tuition Ancillary Fees Total Fees
StudentDomesticYear1CampusTimmins - PCProgram CodeA007Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $945.50 Total $3,666.06
StudentDomesticYear2CampusTimmins - PCProgram CodeA007Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $905.50 Total $3,626.06
StudentDomesticYear1CampusMoosonee - JBProgram CodeA031Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $945.50 Total $3,666.06
StudentDomesticYear2CampusMoosonee - JBProgram CodeA031Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $550.00 Total $3,270.56
StudentDomesticYear1CampusKirkland Lake - KLProgram CodeA036Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $909.50 Total $3,630.06
StudentDomesticYear2CampusKirkland Lake - KLProgram CodeA036Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $869.50 Total $3,590.06
StudentDomesticYear1CampusHaileybury - HLProgram CodeA068Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $976.50 Total $3,697.06
StudentDomesticYear2CampusHaileybury - HLProgram CodeA068Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $936.50 Total $3,657.06
StudentDomesticYear1CampusDistance - CKProgram CodeA104Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $772.50 Total $3,493.06
StudentDomesticYear2CampusDistance - CKProgram CodeA104Tuition $2,720.56 Ancillary Fees $732.50 Total $3,453.06
StudentInternationalYear2CampusTimmins - PCProgram CodeA007Tuition $14,813.46 Ancillary Fees $1,518.00 Total $16,331.46
StudentInternationalYear2CampusKirkland Lake - KLProgram CodeA036Tuition $14,813.46 Ancillary Fees $1,482.00 Total $16,295.46
StudentInternationalYear2CampusHaileybury - HLProgram CodeA068Tuition $14,813.46 Ancillary Fees $1,549.00 Total $16,362.46
Tuition & Payment Information

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