NIC’s Human Services department and its programs are part of the Vancouver Island Collaborative Agreement which ensures high quality instruction, programming and transferability throughout BC. NIC’s Social Services diploma links with Vancouver Island University, Camosun College and the University of Victoria. You are able to earn transfer credits toward social work or child and youth care degree programs. NIC’s Human Services department also works closely with community agencies to ensure course content is current, relevant and valued by employers in the field.
Using an anti-oppressive feminist framework, the first year includes a number of specific courses in interpersonal communications, social work practice, social policy and advanced interpersonal communications. It also includes university studies classes which can be chosen from a variety of different areas, including but not limited to, sociology, psychology, criminology, history, women’s studies, First Nations’ studies, and equity and social justice to name a few.
In the second year, you can choose specialized courses in social services including family relationships; group practice; addictions; conflict resolution; community development; mental health and addictions; program planning and implementation; law; and social services.
Practicum opportunities are an important component of the program, allowing you to integrate theory with practical experience in the community. You will connect with industry leaders and receive mentorship and guidance as you work directly with vulnerable populations. This could include local community organizations or international opportunities, depending on availability.
Weekly seminars provide additional learning and connection of theory to practice. You will be placed in a variety of settings, including but not limited to, agencies that support families or individuals who are struggling with financial or family challenges, violence, addiction or mental health. This allows you to learn exactly what the job entains and what skills are required.
This is a holistic approach to learning and many students report that gaining related work experience while pursuing their education is helpful in obtaining employment afterward.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of volunteer hours do I need to qualify for the program?
You will require 20 completed hours before entering the program. Volunteer hours must be carried out in a human service agency where you have direct contact with clients. You must have a supervisor verify the number of hours completed and confirm acceptable performance.
Will I have to go to class-related activities in the evenings or on weekends?
There are some classes in the evening, although most are scheduled during the day. You may be required to work evenings or weekends for your practicum placement.
Can I work while taking the program?
The diploma is a full-time commitment. Working in addition to study is not recommended.
What kinds of assignments will I do?
You will write several research papers, take part in group projects, complete video assignments, write tests and participate in a number of other classroom activities. There are many essays, research papers, and written assignments; therefore, strong writing and computer literacy skills are important.
How much homework can I expect?
You should expect to spend at least one hour on homework for every hour of class.
What kinds of practicums are available?
Practicums are available in alternative school-based programs, women’s shelters, drug and alcohol recovery centers, mental health drop in centres, First Nations’ community organizations, preventative family-based programs, employment agencies and a variety of other human service or community-based agencies.
Do I need a car?
It is an asset to have a vehicle. If you do not, you will need to find alternate transportation to practicum placements or accept practicum placements which are located close to public transit or within walking distance.
Can classes be transferred?
Most classes in the Social Service diploma transfer to other universities and colleges. If you plan to pursue a degree after the program, a few bridging classes may be necessary. For more information, meet with an educational advisor.
Can I use this qualification in other provinces or countries?
You should check with the province or country in which you want to work. Graduates have used their qualifications to work in other jurisdictions; however, it is important to confirm transferability with agencies ahead of time.
What if I have a lot of experience in human services already?
If you have worked or volunteered extensively in the human services field, you may be able to receive credit for your work. Prior learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) options exist for courses and practicums, but you will still have to pay a fee and carry out some work to demonstrate your knowledge and/or skill level in the course for which you are trying to receive credit. For more information on PLAR, visit Assessment Services.
Transfer Credit & Credit For Prior Learning
Students with previous course work from another accredited institution may apply to transfer course credits to NIC. For more information refer to Steps to University Transfer or contact Student Services.
Your previous life, work or study experience, unassociated with formal education, may qualify for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). Your knowledge and skills will be evaluated to determine if you meet the objectives for selected courses up to a maximum of 50 percent of the program. To qualify for PLAR, you must apply to the program, meet all the program requirements, and complete the PLAR before entering the program or one term before the scheduled course(s). The fee for each PLAR course is 75 per cent of the regular course fee. Refer to NIC policy #4-10: Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition. For information about which courses qualify for PLAR please contact the program department chair.
When you meet some learning objectives in a course(s) the assessment process may result in an exemption from some portion of the course(s). You will be required to register in the course and pay full tuition but yourworkload would be reduced. Note that eligibility for this process will be granted on an individual basis by the department. You must apply one semester in advance of the course start date. For more information please contact the program department chair.
To Be Successful
All students are required to adhere to the program expectations document. Standards are outlined in individual human service course guides (ie: attendance, confidentiality, professional conduct, etc.), and the Canadian Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Ethical Practice. You are encouraged to review these documents to determine if you are able to meet the standards outlined. If you have concerns about meeting program expectations, human services faculty members or college counsellors are available for guidance.
Strong essay writing and computer skills are important as you will be required to submit well-written, word-processed assignments and access online resources.
If you are planning to continue on to a university degree program in social work or child and youth care, consult with an educational advisor to ensure your elective choices are university transferable.
As a graduate, you will be qualified to work with individuals accessing services from agencies in areas such as financial assistance, family support, employment, life-skills acquisition, services to women, youth justice, mental health, substance abuse and a variety of other community-based programs.
Job titles may include, but would not be limited to, family support worker, outreach worker, transition house counsellor, employment counsellor, addictions support worker, youth worker, community development worker, crisis intervention counsellor and mental health worker.
Note: Prior experience or further training may be necessary to work in upper level social service positions.