Please note, the Human Service Work program is offered every year in Kelowna and on a rotating basis in Vernon and Salmon Arm.
The curriculum for the Diploma in Human Service Work reflects the expanding responsibilities and evolving practice standards for graduates from non-degree social service programs. It has been developed with extensive community consultation and learning objectives are guided by provincially identified practice competencies.
The Human Service Work Diploma is a full-time and demanding endeavour. Students are in class approximately 18 hours/week and are expected to read and complete assignments outside of class on a daily basis. Students take responsibility for their own learning as well as being active participants in the classroom. Students graduating from this program will be working with people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged in some way. This generally requires graduates from this program to be client-centered, able to explore and challenge themselves (thoughts, feelings, behaviours) and to be open to change. Students entering into this program must be emotionally, physically, cognitively, and psychologically healthy.
As students progress through the Human Service Work program, they will develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be able to:
Increase inclusion and acceptance of all people in their community while embracing a commitment to principles of social justice. Support access and development of appropriate resources and social support networks.
Effectively advocate in a collaborative, empowering way while demonstrating knowledge of relevant systemic contexts. Empower others by promoting self advocacy and the acquisition of self advocacy skills.
Contribute to positive team development and functioning by using knowledge of group process and engaging in self assessment, collaborative decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
Problem Solving/Critical Thinking
Use critical thinking skills in relevant situations.
Promote client's quality of life, health and well-being through the application of such skills as assessment, planning, teaching, facilitating, providing emotional support, and action planning.
Life Long Learning
Continually strive to develop personally and professionally through a variety of learning experiences.
As students develop the above program outcomes, it is expected that they will demonstrate the following in the classroom:
Ability to engage in self-reflection
Ability to work as a member of a team
Ability to accept and integrate feedback as they evolve into a HSW professional
Ability to embrace change
Tolerance for diversity
The Diploma program is connected to a number of universities and university colleges throughout B.C. Details about transfer credit are available upon request.
Past graduates of the Human Service Worker Certificate program and graduates with certificates from other colleges will have opportunity to upgrade to a diploma credential. Seats will be awarded based on time and date of application. A limited number of seats will be available for students who wish to enrol on a part-time basis.
Academic Admission Requirements
A regular applicant will have B.C. senior secondary graduation, or equivalent (Adult Graduation Diploma) or will currently be completing Grade 12.
English 12 with minimum 60% or alternatives.
Applicants who do not have senior secondary graduation may apply for admission as a mature student provided that they are at least 19 years of age and have not attended secondary school on a full-time basis for a minimum period of one year.
English 12, English 12 First Peoples or TPC 12 (Technical & Professional Communications), or Provincial Level ABE English or equivalent is required, with a minimum grade of 60%. Communications 12 is not acceptable. Mature applicants who do not meet the grade 12 English requirement must write the LPI (Language Proficiency Index) test and obtain a score of 24/40 (level 4).
Applicants with an OUC Human Service Worker Certificate
Graduates of the ten-month HSW (Human Service Worker ) certificate program that was offered by Okanagan University College may apply for advanced standing in the two-year diploma program. Graduates from similar certificate programs offered by other post-secondary institutions may also apply for advanced standing. Course equivalence will be determined on an individual basis in consultation with the Department Chair. Graduates of HSW certificate programs may be admissible to the second year of the diploma program.
Applicants granted advanced standing will be subject to Okanagan College's policy on residence requirements which requires that at least one-half of the course requirements be completed at Okanagan College.
General Admission Requirements
In addition to the minimum academic entrance requirements, the following will also apply to all applicants; regular, mature and graduates of a certificate program:
Attend a mandatory orientation meeting with the Human Service Work program staff (normally conducted in the spring) which will include foundational information about the program, answer any questions applicants may have and provide an opportunity for applicants to reflect upon their suitability for the Human Service Work program and the professional field.
Tuberculin Test - Applicants must submit evidence of a negative tuberculin test taken no more than 12 months prior to the start date of the program or evidence of an appropriate follow-up in the event of a positive test result.
Successful Completion of a First Aid Certificate - All applicants are required to submit proof of having successfully completed a first aid certificate, either Red Cross Standard or St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid, no more than 12 months prior to admission.
Criminal Record Check - A criminal record check clearance from the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General's Criminal Records Review Office. Okanagan College's admission offices will provide applicants with instructions and forms for applicants to submit to the Solicitor General's Office and a deadline for the College to receive the clearance letter. Applicants should only initiate their criminal record check when instructed by Admissions. Failure to provide a clearance letter by the deadline will result in a cancellation of the applicant's admission application.
All applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain their Class 4 (restricted version) driver's license as many employers request this level for practicum and employment.
Okanagan College reserves the right to deny admission to any applicant when, in the opinion of Okanagan College, there is sufficient and substantiated evidence, medical or otherwise, to conclude that by granting admission Okanagan College would jeopardize the safety of clients under student care or would otherwise be negligent in providing for the safety and well-being of clients, agency staff or other students.
Order of Admission
Applicants who satisfy the entrance requirements will be granted admission in chronological order, based on the date of application.
Two years: four academic semesters and two eight week full-time block practica (each May/June)
Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm. This program is offered on a rotating basis in Vernon and Salmon Arm.
Approximately $1,700 for textbooks and supplies. Students are responsible for their own transportation to field placements within the Okanagan region.
Graduates of the two-year Human Service Work Diploma are prepared for employment in the social service, mental health and developmental disabilities fields. Students develop a theoretical knowledge base, a foundation of professional ethics and values, critical thinking ability, essential support skills, and a process for integrating all of their learning into a functional practice framework. Students apply this practice framework to develop empowering, purposeful relationships that promote increased levels of health and well-being in individuals, families and groups.
Employment opportunities include, but are not limited to:
support workers in child and youth care services
community-based support services to people with mental health challenges, brain injuries or developmental disabilities
support workers in group homes for children, youth, or adults with developmental disabilities, brain injury, behaviour or mental health challenges
vocational services (sheltered employment, day programming or supported employment) to people with mental health challenges, brain injuries or developmental disabilities
support workers in residential treatment centers for adults with addictions
community social service agencies
support workers in women's emergency shelters
diversion programs and halfway houses for adults paroled to the community
leisure and recreational services to children, youth and adults
Practicum sites include but are not limited to:
- residential and community-based services for children and youth;
- residential centres for adults with addictions;
- social and recreational programs for children, youth and adults;
- community based and residential programs for persons with a mental illness or a developmental disability;
- community social service agencies;
- elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools;
- independent and shared living homes;
- and supported employment programs.
Students must complete an eight-week practicum in each year of the diploma program. These practica occur from mid-April to mid-June, and require students to attend their placements for approximately 30 hours per week.
Students often wonder where they can take their practicum. Please know that:
- If a student is enrolled in the program in Kelowna, the practicum sites occur in communities from Lake Country to Osoyoos.
- If a student is enrolled in the program in Vernon, the practicum sites occur in communities from Lake Country to Enderby.
- If a student is enrolled in the program in Salmon Arm, the practicum sites occur in communities from Enderby to Revelstoke.
Students must obtain a minimum graduating grade average of 60% in academic courses. Minimum passing grade for all HSW courses is 70%. The practicum is graded as either a pass or fail.
Health and Social Development
2020-21: $7,737.25 (total for two year program)
This program is student loan eligible.
Okanagan College Calendar: Printed 04/15/2021