Make a positive difference in the lives of individuals and communities
Explore how human interactions are influenced by individual, collective, and structural forces such as mental health, social relationships, economic conditions, education and politics, and movements for social justice and social change. A common goal of those who study Social Development Studies is to help people, communities, and nations flourish.
Through courses in areas such as psychology, sociology, and social work as well as hands-on community engagement opportunities, you’ll be well prepared for a meaningful career in social work, counselling, education, public services, human resources, law, or community and international service organizations. You can also enhance your learning experience by enrolling in co-op and applying what you learn in class to real work situations.
- Get some serious experience. Enhance your résumé with an apprenticeship, where you’ll get experience by volunteering in a local community agency or by helping a professor conduct their research.
- Fast-track your BSW. Want to become a professional social worker? After completing SDS, you can apply directly to our accredited one-year Social Work program and earn a Bachelor of Social Work.
- Available as a regular or co-op program
- Available as a major and minor
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Development Studies
- Offered by the Faculty of Arts
What will you learn?
During your first year, you'll take two introductory Social Development Studies (SDS) courses. Plus, you'll take foundational courses in Psychology and Sociology. In upper years, about half of the classes you'll take will be SDS courses.
Learn about courses you'll take for your SDS degree.
Customize your degree
You can add additional areas of expertise to your degree by including one of the areas of focus in the program.
- Diversity and Equity
- Individual Well-being and Development
- Social Policy and Social Action
- Social Work
You can also include one of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus for SDS students include Psychology; Sociology; and Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies.
Get tips from Waterloo students
Join our newsletter for tips such as choosing a program, life at Waterloo, and finances.
Contact a student ambassador
Ask a Faculty of Arts student about their program, classes, getting involved on campus, and more!
Co-op = relevant paid work experience
Alternate school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, exploring career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.
Sample co-op job titles
- Client and sales support
- English teacher
- Training and documentation associate
- Project coordinator
Sample co-op employers
- Third Eye Solutions Inc.
- University of Waterloo
- Chicopee Ski and Summer Resort
What can you do with a degree in Social Development Studies?
Graduates commonly pursue careers in support work, child and youth counselling, early childhood education, and more. They often work in schools, youth mentorship groups, counselling offices, hospitals, and a wide variety of government departments.
- Senior Case Worker - Regional Municipality of Waterloo
- Probation Officer - Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
- Bereavement Coordinator - St. Paul's Hospital
- Coordinator, Newcomer Settlement – Multicultural Association of Perth-Huron
- Community Behaviour Consultant – Woodstock General Hospital
- Support Worker – Community Living North Halton
- Early Childhood Educator – Waterloo Catholic District School Board
Applying to Social Development Studies (SDS)
There are several ways to choose SDS as your major. Please email us if you have questions about any of the options.
You can apply directly to the SDS major on your application. This is a perfect choice if you want to focus on SDS in first year and to have spaces reserved for you in SDS courses.
With considerable flexibility, Honours Arts lets you explore several majors in Arts, including SDS. At the end of first year, you can select SDS as your major.
Honours Arts and Business
Apply to Honours Arts and Business and choose SDS as your major at the end of first year to add valuable business courses to your degree.
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- English 4U (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
Mathematics of Data Management is recommended as helpful background for the program.
Admission average: Low 80s
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
Learn about transfer credit pathways from college Social Service Worker programs.
Connect with us
Questions about courses, programs, requirements, careers?
Please contact Sam Boehmer, our Faculty of Arts recruitment coordinator who can answer any questions you have.