Human Service Work Diploma

Learn how to build and maintain healthy relationships, communicate effectively and increase inclusion for vulnerable individuals within your community. 

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  • Kelowna
  • Vernon
  • Salmon Arm
View schedule and campus details
  • Full program offered
  • Partial program offered



Delivery options


  • International students eligible

Tuition and fees

2023-24: $7,775.50 (total for two year program)

Program details

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. ɫɫɫƬ are in class approximately 18 hours/week and are expected to read and complete assignments outside of class on a daily basis. ɫɫɫƬ take responsibility for their own learning as well as being active participants in the classroom. ɫɫɫƬ 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. ɫɫɫƬ 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:

  • Develop respectful, positive and ultimately helpful relationships with others. Encourage and assist others to expand their network of supportive relationships.


  • Communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing with individuals and groups. Interact successfully and strategically by applying communication skills best suited to specific contexts.


  • Conduct oneself in a reliable, ethical and professional manner by acknowledging personal limitations, fulfilling role responsibilities and embracing professional values.


  • 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.

Team Work

  • 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.


  • Self-reflect and solicit feedback to increase awareness of the impact that one's attitude, beliefs, and behaviour have on self and others.

Skillful Practice

  • 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:

  • Professional behaviour

  • 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.

Graduates of the two-year Human Service Work Diploma are prepared for employment in the social service, mental health and developmental disabilities fields. ɫɫɫƬ 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. ɫɫɫƬ 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

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.

ɫɫɫƬ 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.

ɫɫɫƬ 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.

Approximately $1,700 for textbooks and supplies. ɫɫɫƬ are responsible for their own transportation to field placements within the Okanagan region.

Regional delivery of studies can differ according to the campus location, this program is offered every fall in Kelowna, and alternating years in Vernon and Salmon Arm.

For more information, book an appointment with an Education Advisor.

Campus Start date Schedule
Kelowna Sep. 04, 2024
Salmon Arm Sep. 04, 2024
Vernon Sep. 2025

Admission requirements

Academic Admission Requirements

  • Regular Applicants
    • A regular applicant will have B.C. senior secondary graduation, or equivalent (Adult Graduation Diploma) or will currently be completing Grade 12.
    • English Requirement:
      • English 12 with minimum 60% or .
  • Mature Applicants
    • 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.

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.

Other 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:
    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

Program Pre-practice Requirements

In addition to the academic program requirements, the following must also be completed by students prior to practicum placements

  • Successful completion of all the B.C. Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum (PVPC) including the 8-hour in-person classroom course.
  • There may be additional fees associated with other admission and program pre-practice requirements. These requirements are usually completed outside of regular class time. ɫɫɫƬ are responsible for submitting appropriate documentation by the due dates provided. The admissions office and/or department chair will provide further instructions. ɫɫɫƬ may proceed into clinical practice education experiences only after successful completion of ALL the program pre-practice requirements.

Program outline

Year 1

Semester 1

PSYC 111 - Introduction to Psychology: Basic Processes
HSW 100 - Professional Skills for Human Service Work
HSW 107 - Introduction to Mental Health
HSW 111 - Interpersonal Relationships
HSW 114 - Families
SOCW 200A - An Introduction to Social Work Practice
ɫɫɫƬ must also complete one of the following courses:
ENGL 100 - University Writing
ENGL 150 - Critical Writing and Reading: Poetry and Drama
ENGL 151 - Critical Writing and Reading: Short Fiction and the Novel
ENGL 153 - Critical Writing and Reading: Narrative

Semester 2

PSYC 121 - Introduction to Psychology: Personal Functioning
HSW 102 - Augmentative Communication
HSW 106 - Practicum Preparation I
HSW 108 - Health Care Skills
HSW 122 - Emotional Support
HSW 124 - Supporting Positive Change


PSYC 111 and PSYC 121 are prerequisites for PSYC 220


HSW 130 - Practicum I

Year 2

Semester 3

HSW 205 - Groups
HSW 211 - Politics and Perspectives on Inclusion
PSYC 220 - Lifespan Development

Semester 4

SOCW 200B - An Introduction to Social Welfare in Canada
HSW 206 - Practicum Preparation II
HSW 210 - Introduction to Child and Youth Mental Health
HSW 220 - Principles of HSW Practice


HSW 230 - Practicum II

ɫɫɫƬ 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.

Additional information

View the official Calendar details and policies
Learn more about the department
View the Tuition and fees page


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