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2023-2024 Academic Calendar

Social Services Worker Diploma

Location(s): ​Dawson Creek, and ​Fort St. John

The Social Services Worker Diploma (SSWD) program provides opportunities for students to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and qualifications to enable them to work in a human services worker field. The program involves two years of full-time study, with a combination of practice, theory, and academic course requirements aimed to prepare students to become critical practitioners with an emphasis on advocacy, social justice, and social change. The program may also be taken on a part-time basis.

Career Prospects

The SSWD program prepares students to work as paraprofessionals in a variety of social service and health agencies. Typical jobs include, but not limited to: financial assistance worker, bail supervisor, residential service worker, social work assistant, mental health assisted living worker, family support worker, supported employment, community living worker, transition houses, women’s programs, Aboriginal support worker and family violence worker.


Dawson CreekFallFull-TimePart-Time
Fort St JohnFallFull-TimePart-Time
Dawson CreekWinter*Full-time (extended)Part-Time  
Fort St JohnWinter*Full-time (extended)Part-Time
Dawson CreekSpringFull-time (extended)Part-Time
Fort St JohnSpringFull-time (extended)Part-Time

* January intake is for domestic students only.


60 credits (1055 hours), minimum.

This is a two year program taken over four semesters with minimum of 15 credits per semester.  Part-time studies will take longer.

Estimated Program Fees

Program fee type: Academic

Costs indicated are estimates for a full-time course load.
Book, instruments, supplies, uniforms/clothing and third-party fees are additional.

Domestic Fees

 TuitionStudent FeesInstruction-related
Fees (includes GST)
Year 1$ 3,581.40$ 149.76$ 0.00$ 3,731.16
Year 2 (estimated)$ 3,653.02$ 152.75$ 0.00$ 3,805.77

International Fees

 TuitionStudent FeesInstruction-related
Fees (includes GST)
Medical Insurance
Year 1$ 11,580.00$ 149.76$ 0.00$ 828.00$ 12,557.76
Year 2 (estimated)$ 12,300.00$ 152.75$ 0.00$ 828.00$ 13,280.75

Special Pathways

Graduates of NLC’s Education Assistant Certificate or Education Assistant Diploma program will receive credit for the following courses:

Courses must completed within six years with a minimum grade of C+.

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Admission Requirements

English Requirement

For applicants from countries that practice Standard Written English, one of the following:

  • English Studies 12 with a grade of B or higher, or equivalent
  • English First Peoples 12 with a grade of B or higher, or equivalent
  • ENGL 050 with a grade of B or higher, or equivalent
  • ENGL 099 with a grade of B or higher, or equivalent
  • Any university-level English course with a grade of C or higher
  • NLC Writing Assessment with placement at the college level (100)

For all other applicants, one of the following:

  • IELTS result with an overall score of 6.0 or higher with no band less than 6.0*
  • TOEFL iBT of 78
  • Canadian Academic English Assessment (CAEL) 60 overall band
  • Canadian Language Benchmark Assessment (CLBA) 8 in each section
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) 57
  • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) 76
  • Cambridge-Michigan Language Assessment (CaMLA) 69 plus NLC’s Writing Assessment
  • A post-secondary level credential with equivalent English language requirements
  • Two years of full-time secondary school education in English in Canada and completion of English 12, English Studies 12, English Literature 12, English 12 First Peoples, or equivalent with a minimum grade of B.
  • Completion of the Citation in English for Academic Purposes Level 060

The General Academic English Language Proficiency Requirements outline more details of the academic English requirements.

Students with a writing band of 6.0 or less are required to complete ENGL 099 with a B grade or higher before or during the first semester of their program.

Note: Elective courses may have specific prerequisites. Meeting entrance requirements for the program does not ensure course pre-requisites have been met for all available courses.

Post-Admission Requirements

  1. Students will be required to attend a program-specific orientation session, usually held the first class of SSWD 110. Accommodations can be made for students enrolling before the add/drop date or part-time students.
  2. Clearance letter from the Criminal Records Review Program (CRRP), for a Schedule “B” Criminal Record Check (CRC), WORKS WITH Children and Vulnerable Adults before beginning the program. Failure to do so will prevent students from registering in SSWD 220 – Practicum and Seminar and may result in program withdrawal. For information and regulations, see Criminal Records Checks.

Important Notes

  1. The program is eligible for Canada Student Loans for domestic students. Visit Student Aid BC to apply for financial assistance online. Note that dual credit students are not eligible for Student Aid.
  2. Transfer agreements allow graduates to receive:
    1. Course-by-course transfer into University of Northern British Columbia’s Bachelor of Social Work program
    2. Direct admission into Justice Institute of British Columbia’s Advanced Specialty Certificate in Community Care Licensing program (advanced standing is granted for PSYC 211 and SSWD 120)
    3. Block transfer credit into Royal Roads University’s Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communication or Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program

Program Requirements

Residency Requirement

  • 50% of all coursework must be completed at Northern Lights College.
  • SSWD 220 must be completed at Northern Lights College. 

Minimum Grade Requirement

  • SSWD students must achieve a minimum grade of C+ in all key SSWD courses; ’D’ grade minimum in all other courses
  • Program cumulative GPA of 2.33
  • A ‘P’ (Pass) must be achieved in SSWD 220

Completion Requirements

  • All key SSWD courses must be completed within six years of program admission.

Attendance Requirements

  • For each of the key SSWD courses, absences should not exceed 20% of contact time (i.e. 9 hours)

Key SSWD courses

Professional Suitability

Student professional growth will be evaluated throughout the program. Students must adhere to the BC College of Social Workers Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, along with all NLC student conduct policies. Further details are described in the SSWD Program Handbook and in course syllabi.

** Students who have completed the first 3 semesters of NLC’s Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma program (fifteen three-credit courses), and graduates of NLC’s Education Assistant Certificate, will be granted course credit for SSWD 110; also, as indicated below, HDEC 101 & HDEC 104 will substitute for PSYC 211, and ECEC 201 for either PSYC 235 or SOCI 204. These courses may impact transfer to other institutions; check the BC Transfer Guide for information about transfer credit.

Semester One

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Semester Two

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Semester Three

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Semester Four

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Social Worker Electives

Open Electives

Open electives are courses in any area and at the baccalaureate level.  Generally, these are courses that are numbered 100 or higher and are transferrable to a university.  See the BC Transfer Guide for transferability.  For further information on possible choices, please contact your Program Chair.

Suggest Electives

Students should consider post-diploma plans when choosing program-specific and open electives. In particular, students moving on to degree programs are advised to consult with receiving institutions to ensure students have selected required courses for a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program.

Students wanting to have an indigenous focus on Indigenous studies should select four of the following courses:


Diploma in Social Services Worker