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Social Service Worker (Two-Year Ontario College Diploma)

A mother and a father walking through a field with a young child
Ontario College Diploma

Ontario College Diploma

Program Description

The Social Service Worker program combines academic study with practical experience to provide graduates with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to work in the diverse and complex field of community and social services. The program focuses on the development of front-line interviewing and counselling skills that will prepare students to work with individuals and groups in a variety of social service settings, including group homes, women's shelters, addiction and mental health facilities, employment programs and services for seniors.

In addition to theoretical models, methods and skills of social service work practice, you will receive extensive training in community organizing and development, crisis intervention, group work, and life skills methodology.

As a graduate of the Social Service Worker program, you will be eligible to register as a social service worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers:

Admission Requirements

For information about meeting the grade 12 (C or U) English requirement please visit the English Language Proficiency Requirement page.

Program Admission Notes:

  • Equivalent secondary school diploma from another province or territory in Canada (Please note: A recognized equivalent to an OSSD may be accepted if you meet the levels, subjects and overall averages required for admission to the college. Generally the requirement is successful completion of a Grade 12 diploma except in Quebec where the equivalent is Secondary V)
    Equivalent secondary school diploma from outside of Canada. Applicants who have been educated outside of Canada must have their documents evaluated by a credential assessment service (ICAS) and submit proof of educational qualifications in order to determine if their level of achievement is equivalent to an OSSD. To obtain a Credential Assessment Report visit either ICAS (1.800.321.6021) or WES (1.866.343.0070)
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office recommended
  • This program has a field placement component which requires a clear criminal reference check with vulnerable sector screening. Without this, you may not be accepted for field placement by a field placement agency and may be unable to complete the requirements of the program.
  • You must maintain an overall average of 60% or a GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate
  • A minimum of 25% of courses must be completed through Durham College.

Program Admission

Note: Please do not send official transcripts by mail or fax. An electronic copy of your transcript can be emailed to us at with your program admission form.

Students are required to complete and submit this form to indicate that the program's admission requirements have been met.

Click to access the Program Admission Form

This form must be submitted and an Admission Acceptance Letter received prior to registering for any courses.

Program Of Study

Students are required to print or save a copy of the Program of Study when beginning the program. This document contains critical details about program progression and graduation requirements specific to the academic year in which your program was started.

Click to access the Program of Study for the current academic year.

Students who began this program prior to the current academic year may contact the Professional and Part-Time Learning office at or 905-721-3052 to obtain your Program of Study and graduation requirements.

General Education Electives: This program requires the completion of General Education Elective (GNED) courses in addition to core program courses.

Click to access General Education Elective Course Options

IMPORTANT NOTE:Some programs may have restrictions on the specific GNED courses that students are able to take to fulfill their program requirements. For Professional and Part-Time Learning students, these restrictions are identified on the link above. For those in full-time, day school programs, please consult your academic school for confirmation of any GNED restrictions for your program before registering.

Field Placement

This program contains three field placement courses. For details, including paperwork submission deadlines, please visit the Field Placement Page. For additional, program-specific field placement questions, please read the Social Service Worker Field Placement FAQs.

Please also be advised of the following:

  • Seat availability for field placement courses are limited. Please visit the field placement page for further details.
  • Registration for all SSW Field Placement courses will show as "closed" on our website. Permission from the placement officer is required to register for these courses. Approval is based on the successful, on-time submission of all pre-placement/observation paperwork.
  • Students are required to research and secure their own placements. Please note that you cannot complete your placement where you are also employed, or where there may be a conflict of interest.
  • Students are encouraged to secure the same agency for placement levels two and three, but it must be a different agency from their level one placement.
  • Students must complete all prerequisite courses prior to applying for each field placement, and have a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Program Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be equipped to:

  • Develop respectful and collaborative professional and interpersonal relationships that adhere to professional, legal, and ethical standards aligned to social service work
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Develop strategies and approaches to implement and maintain holistic self-care as a member of a human service profession
  • 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
  • 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
  • Implement the Life Skills methodology across a wide range of environments supporting growth of individuals in a variety of contexts

Career Options

Potential career and industry options may include:

  • Addictions counsellor
  • Case manager
  • Crisis worker
  • Disability support worker
  • Employment counsellor
  • Intake worker
  • Mental health worker
  • Residential counsellor
  • Shelter worker
  • Youth counsellor
  • Community development worker
  • Addictions agencies
  • Community living associations
  • Educational institutions
  • Employment services
  • Mental health agencies
  • Social service agencies
  • Supportive living residences
  • Women's shelters

Pathway Opportunity

Graduates may also be eligible to apply their academic credits toward further study through Durham College's partnerships with many Canadian and international colleges and universities.

Please visit the Transfer Guide for more information.

Related Credentials and Courses

Graduates interested in further professional development may be interested in the following courses/programs:

Qualified graduates can apply to Durham College's:

Program Related Questions? Call 905.721.3052

If you are interested in applying for financial aid, please visit the Professional and Part-Time Learning OSAP Eligibility webpage.

Currently offered

Course Title Location/
Delivery Method
COUN 2580Abnormal PsychologyOnline
COUN 2580Abnormal PsychologyMonthly Intake Online
COMM 2785Academic Writing for Success StrategiesOnline
COMM 2785Academic Writing for Success StrategiesMonthly Intake Online
SSW 4580Addictions & Mental Health: Theory & Practice (for SSW)Distance Education
SCI 1080AstronomyOnline
WRIT 1981Children's Literature IntroductionMonthly Intake Online
WRIT 1981Children's Literature IntroductionOnline
COMM 1884Communication FoundationsDistance Education
GNED 1489Complementary Therapies IntroductionOnline
PSYC 2080Criminal Psychology - Criminal MindsOnline
PSYC 2080Criminal Psychology - Criminal MindsMonthly Intake Online
PSYC 1080Criminal Psychology - Psychopathic MindsOnline
PSYC 1080Criminal Psychology - Psychopathic MindsMonthly Intake Online
SSW 2586Crisis Intervention for SSWDistance Education
ENG 1080Critical ThinkingMonthly Intake Online
ENG 1080Critical ThinkingOnline
CRIM 1080Cults and TerrorismOnline
CRIM 1080Cults and TerrorismMonthly Intake Online
PSYC 2580Development across the LifespanOnline
PSYC 2580Development across the LifespanMonthly Intake Online
SSW 2581Diversity & Cultural CompetenceOnline
GNED 1483Domestic and Workplace ViolenceOnline
ENVI 1080Environmental CitizenshipMonthly Intake Online
ENVI 1080Environmental CitizenshipOnline
COUN 3581Family & Family SystemsOnline
GNED 1380Global CitizenshipOnline
COUN 3583Group DynamicsOnline
GNED 1484History of Indigenous Canadian RelationsOnline
CHLD 4581Human SexualityMonthly Intake Online
CHLD 4581Human SexualityOnline
GNED 1488Indigenous Identity and Relationship to the LandOnline
SSW 1582Interviewing & Counselling Skills IMonthly Intake Online
SSW 1582Interviewing & Counselling Skills IOnline
SSW 2582Interviewing & Counselling Skills IIMonthly Intake Online
SSW 2582Interviewing & Counselling Skills IIOnline
GNED 1381Legalization of Cannabis in Canada (7 weeks)Online
GNED 1381Legalization of Cannabis in Canada (7 weeks)Monthly Intake Online
COUN 2584Lifeskills PracticeDistance Education
COUN 2585Lifeskills TheoryOnline
ENG 1384LiteratureOnline
CCA 1585Management Leadership SkillsOnline
PSYC 1083Personality PsychologyOnline
COUN 1583Pharmacology & BehaviourDistance Education
PFP 8215Politics and Public AdministrationOnline
PSYC 1551Principles of PsychologyDistance Education
SSW 1584Professional Practice in SSWDistance Education
WRIT 1582Record Keeping & Report WritingDistance Education
SSWF 1080SSW Field Placement PreparationOnline
GNED 1474Science of Popular Diets: Impact of Nutrition on Human WellnessOnline
PSYC 1051Selected Topics in PsychologyOnline
PSYC 1051Selected Topics in PsychologyMonthly Intake Online
SSW 4581Social JusticeDistance Education
GNED 1481Social Media and SocietyOnline
FWK 1587Social Service Worker Field Placement I & SeminarDistance Education
FWK 2581Social Service Worker Field Placement II & SeminarDistance Education
FWK 3581Social Service Worker Field Placement III & SeminarDistance Education
SSW 3581Social Welfare PolicyDistance Education
SOCI 1051Sociology IntroductionMonthly Intake Online
SOCI 1051Sociology IntroductionOnline
HLTH 1387Stress, Wellness & NutritionOnline
HLTH 1387Stress, Wellness & NutritionMonthly Intake Online
GNED 1491The Game of Soccer and its Impact on SocietyOnline
GNED 1487Truth & ReconciliationOnline
GNED 1281Western: A Study in the Film GenreOnline
RELG 1980World Religions: Western and Eastern TraditionsOnline