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Social Services

Create change in your community and enhance the quality of life for individuals you serve.

A woman sits in front of another; it appears one is talking and the other listening.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
2 Years

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This program gives you the entry-level skills required to work in most social service agencies. Through your study, you gain a good understanding of yourself and your values, the social services system, the populations served by social services organizations and the skills and strategies needed to help people in your community.

Work experience

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience courses are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.
  • International students - all international students require a co-op work permit; you can't complete your NSCC program without one. This program also requires a medical exam to receive your co-op work permit. View co-op work permit - medical exam details.

Choose NSCC

  • You develop helping strategies, including facilitation, creative problem solving and assessment skills.
  • You learn from instructors who bring a range of academic and professional experiences to the classroom.
  • You experience hands-on, practical learning, where you apply your skills and knowledge to real projects and work experiences.
  • Small class sizes enable you to be very involved in your learning and make the most of your class time.

Other info

  • This program is not always offered at the same location each year. Check program locations for upcoming start dates.
  • Many employers in this sector require one – or all – of the following as part of the hiring process: current, official criminal record check, vulnerable sector check and/or child abuse register search.
  • A conviction or finding in family court may impact your ability to secure employment.


September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Burridge Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Cumberland Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available
Ivany Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Kingstec Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Pictou Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Strait Area Campus
Port Hawkesbury
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available
Sydney Waterfront Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Truro Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.

Admission requirements

Program requirements

  • A current, official criminal record check and vulnerable sector check are required to complete work placements in many programs. A conviction may impact your ability to complete program requirements.
  • All programs in Health and Human Services require First Aid/CPR as a graduation requirement. For specific program requirements, view additional Health and Human Services program requirements.
  • Many Health and Human Services programs have additional requirements, including immunizations. You must submit proof that you've completed these requirements by the date provided to you at the beginning of your program. View additional Health and Human Services program requirements.
    • Receiving immunizations may take up to 10 months to complete.
    • Failure to complete immunizations can result in a delayed work placement, which will impact your ability to complete program and graduation requirements.
  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2024-25 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Graduates have the skills to work in a range of roles available in most social service agencies.
  • Graduates work in family support and resource centres, emergency shelters, community drop-ins, after-school care programs, residential facilities and various other organizations that provide services to children, youth and adults.

Future study options

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

GDEV 1025 - Developmental Psychology
This course examines the expected growth and developmental patterns of individuals from conception through to oldest old. The emphasis is on the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of development.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

SOCS 1000 - Introduction to Sociology
This survey course focuses on the major sociological concepts and theoretical perspectives.

SOCS 1001 - Introduction to Psychology
This survey course will introduce students to the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes. It will explore its goals, theoretical perspectives, research and applications. It will challenge students to make connections between areas of study and their everyday experience.

SOCS 1005 - Writing Skills for Social Service Practice I
Effective written communication skills are a necessary component for success in the social services environment where transparency, accountability and integrity are core values connected to providing service for others. This one semester course is designed to afford the student the opportunity to develop the skills required to manage information and prepare documents used in the social services field.

SOCS 1010 - Professional Practice I
This course introduces the learner to the concept of professional behaviour. The learner will engage in a self-assessment process and demonstrate professional behaviours in the classroom setting.

SOCS 1014 - Social Service Counselling Skills
This course provides an understanding of helping theory and the development of basic listening and responding skills within the Social Services content.

SOCS 1017 - Foundations of Social Service Practice
This course introduces the learner to the fundamental concepts and skills associated with the helping field. It supports the student in an exploration of his/her fit in the profession. The course will also introduce the concept of crisis and begin to explore the role of the social service worker in supporting clients during crisis.

SOCS 1018 - Reflective Practice and Interpersonal Insights
This course introduces the learner to the concept that self- awareness is key to being an effective social services worker. In the exploration of self-awareness, learners will examine their strengths and skills and identify areas for development and empowerment. The course also introduces the learner to the concepts of interpersonal relationships that are strategic to creating and maintaining good communication in working relationships in the field of social services.

SOCS 1020 - Professional Practice II: Cultural Competency and Anti-Oppressive Practice
In this second level course, the learner will examine professional conduct through the lens of cultural competency and anti-oppressive theory and practice. Industry standards and employer expectations will be explored. Learners will continue to engage in a self-assessment process to determine areas for continued growth.

SOCS 1024 - Applied Social Service Counselling Skills
This course is designed to build basic helpings skills explored in the Social Service Counselling Skills course. The learner will begin developing skills in the application of an advanced communication model to support a climate that will encourage interdependence and individual centred planning. This course is a non-supplemental course and therefore is not eligible for supplemental exams.

SOCS 1050 - Applied Service Learning Project
This project provides students with an experience of supporting individuals or organizations in a variety of social service sectors. This course is a non-supplemental course and therefore is not eligible for supplemental exams.

SOCS 2000 - Understanding Families
During the past few decades, family life in Canada has been undergoing many changes. This course deals with a variety of family challenges and family issues that have a direct relevance to the field of Social Services. The course theory and assignments as well as class activities and discussions will help learners manage future work situations.

SOCS 2002 - Mental Health Issues
This course is a general survey course that considers key content in relation to mental health disorders. The student will examine biological and psychological factors related to mental health and illness, ranging from functional to dysfunctional thoughts and behaviours. Current theories, therapies and intervention strategies are explored. Mental Health will be addressed across the life span. Students will investigate legal, ethical and social perspectives in relationship to scope of practice.

SOCS 2003 - Behavioural Learning Principles and Strategies
This course introduces students to behavioural terminology and the principles of learning. Students will discuss and demonstrate positive behavioural strategies that support clients within the Social Services scope of practice.

SOCS 2005 - Writing Skills for Social Service Practice II
This course provides students with the opportunity to apply skills developed in Writing Skills for Social Services I. Applications include preparing documents that serve as records in the social services field, collecting and clearly presenting information specific to the needs of an audience, and composing documents for employment that are accurate and appealing.

SOCS 2008 - Grief and Loss
This course is designed to introduce the concepts of grief and loss as a field of inquiry and professional social services practice across the lifespan. Utilizing a cross-cultural perspective, a variety of issues associated with grief and loss will be explored. This course includes, but is not limited to, death and dying.

SOCS 2009 - Community Development
The purpose of this course is to explore the dynamics of community change as well as practical approaches for taking action to facilitate community change. Since promoting community change is more than an academic exercise, learners will participate in one or more of the phases of community development.

SOCS 2010 - Introduction to Disability Studies
This course will explore the barriers to full citizenship for persons with disabilities, and identify best practice in supporting full inclusion. This course will challenge the view of disability as individual deficits, by analyzing the way society defines and responds to disability. Priority will be given to the knowledge and perspective that comes from lived experience. Social service approaches which promote inclusion and challenge ableism will be explored.

SOCS 2024 - Group Facilitation
The Group Facilitation Skills course is an introduction to group process and group facilitation. Learners will explore group work theory and practice. Learners will have the opportunity to utilize this knowledge and skill in the planning, facilitating and evaluation of a group.

SOCS 2025 - Introduction to Grant Proposal Writing
Social and recreation service delivery is dependent on grants, contracts or contributions to program funding. Learners will explore the structure and processes required to develop a successful grant proposal for projects associated with recreation and social services delivery.

SOCS 2030 - Professional Practice III: Professional Development
In this third level course, the learner will apply the process of reflective practice to professional conduct in the workplace. Based on the first year practicum experience, learners will engage in a reflective process to identify areas for continued growth in this area.

SOCS 2035 - Introduction to Addictions
This course is designed to provide an overview and introduction to the addictions field. Learners will be introduced to issues and trends from both a historical and present day perspective. It will involve exploring drug and alcohol use from a physical, social emotional and biological perspective. This course will involve an exploration of services offered across the spectrum both locally and throughout Canada.

SOCS 2040 - Professional Practice IV: Advocacy and Social Justice
In this final course in professional practice, the learner will explore concepts of leadership, advocacy and social justice within the social services field.

SOCS 2050 - Practicum I
NSCC recognizes the importance of providing opportunities for the learner to make a successful transition from the classroom to the workplace. To ensure that the learner is capable of transferring the skills, knowledge and attitudes acquired in the classroom setting, NSCC requires an experiential learning component to be successfully completed before learners are eligible for graduation.

SOCS 2055 - Practicum II
NSCC recognizes the importance of providing opportunities for the learner to make a successful transition from the classroom to the workplace. To ensure that the learner is capable of transferring the skills, knowledge and attitudes acquired in the classroom setting, NSCC requires an experiential learning component to be successfully completed before learners are eligible for graduation.

SOCS 3029 - Crisis Intervention Strategies and Techniques
The first section of this course allows the learner to define crisis and explores its characteristics. It also explores the dynamics of crisis, both in the short term and the long term, for the individual in crisis. The course is specifically designed to provide the helper with a crisis intervention model, which takes into account the differences between crisis and non-crisis intervention for both the client and the helper. The learner will be trained in effective strategies for dealing with crisis, with emphasis on relationship, assessment, and developing an action plan. The second section of the course then explores practical crisis intervention in a variety of specific settings/crises, utilizing the six-step application model presented in the first section of the course. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) will enhance the learners' ability to help a person at risk stay safe for now. Nonviolent Crisis Intervention is effective in teaching the learners to safely manage aggressive behaviour.

SVLN 1000 - Introduction to Service Learning
This course prepares and provides learners with an opportunity to provide direct service to either a local or international human service/nonprofit agency while meeting program and course outcomes. Learners will participate in workshops, carry out research, develop a community profile, develop a service learning plan, engage in reflection and portfolio assessment. Following this introductory course the learner will complete their project in third semester.

Open elective course requirement. Four credits. NOTE: No two courses can be used to satisfy program requirements that are at the same level, subject area and topical area or that are otherwise deemed to be equivalent.

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A photo of Brittany in graduation gown holding her diploma.
Brittany Rose
Class of 2023
Social Services is such an amazing program, the faculty do everything in their power to ensure you succeed in all areas of your studies. This program gives you all the skills and resources you need to succeed after you graduate.

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