A focus in social sciences and social work provides opportunities for Renison students to make an impact in their local communities, and our diverse selection of language, culture, and humanities classes helps prepare them to become citizens of a global community.

As a Renison student, you'll have all the benefits of graduating with a University of Waterloo degree combined with the advantages of learning in a smaller, more intimate environment.

Degree Programs

You can apply directly to Social Development Studies, Honours Arts/Honours Arts and Business, Bachelor of Social Work, and Master of Social Work, while our other programs can be woven into your undergraduate academic plan to enhance your degree and make you stand out.


Social Development Studies (SDS) is a multi-faceted Bachelor of Arts program that gives you a well-rounded background in psychology, sociology, social work, and a set of unique SDS courses. You'll learn how physical and mental health, socioeconomic realities, education, and emotional support affect the well-being of individuals and communities - locally, nationally, and internationally. 

Honours Arts / Honours Arts and Business

Do you love learning about people in many different contexts? Do you have a wide variety of interests? Honours Arts gives you the flexibility to study broad interests and encourages you to explore subjects within the humanities, social sciences, fine and performing arts, and languages and cultures. Do you want to study business, but feel a traditional business program would limit your opportunities to study other interests? Whether you're interested in the humanities, social sciences, languages, or fine and performing arts, Honours Arts and Business may be just the program for you!

Bachelor of Social Work

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is a professional program that prepares students for a generalist social work practice in a learning environment that is inclusive and engaging. Consistent with the Canadian Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, the BSW program is informed by values of social justice, respect for the dignity and worth of all individuals, integrity, confidentiality, and competence in professional practice. The BSW program is accredited by the Canadian Association of Social Work Education (CASWE). The program, which can be completed full-time (10-months) or part-time (within three years), includes a field practicum and is only available for those who have already earned a Bachelor degree.

Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program is the first social work program in Canada specializing in health that is available online. It is offered in collaboration with the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo. The MSW program views health holistically which means that students are challenged to consider how social, cultural, personal, physiological, structural, and political implications shape individual, community, and global health experiences. Students are challenged to explore interventions that take multiple forms to address health inequities including individual, organizational, community, and policy levels. A benefit of the online program is that students are exposed to the most current of online technologies that will enhance learning and future practice. You can complete the MSW program full-time (12 months) or part-time (24 months); both the full-time and part-time MSW programs begin and end with on-campus intensive weeks in August. All MSW students will have a field practicum as part of their learning requirements. A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is a requirement for anyone applying to the MSW program.

Enhance your degree

Renison offers classes for undergraduate students who choose to minor in Applied Language Studies, East Asian Studies, or Studies in Islamic and Arab Cultures. We also have courses that count towards a major or minor in Religious Studies. This means that you'll focus a portion of your workload on one of these areas, giving you a level of specialized knowledge that will help shape your career skill set.

Applied Language Studies

Are you fascinated by learning languages and the complexities of communicating in a second language? You can earn a minor in Applied Language Studies (APPLS). APPLS is the application of second language learning theories to the practice of learning and teaching second (or additional) languages. You will learn major theories of second language acquisition, concepts of culture and identity in relation to language learning, and methodologies used for language teaching and assessment. APPLS is an excellent fit for students interested in learning other languages, teaching a language to speakers of other languages, pursuing teacher's college, or studying Applied Linguistics at the graduate level.

East Asian Studies

Are you interested in exploring East Asian cultures? Does studying abroad sound like a fantastic learning experience? You can earn a minor in East Asian Studies (EAS), which offers you the opportunity to take part in engaging, interactive, and challenging courses while enhancing your understanding of East Asian cultures and languages (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean). Build your skills in critical thinking, problem solving, interpersonal relations, and leadership by examining real-world issues. 

Religious Studies

Renison courses in Religious Studies (RS) can be counted toward a major or minor in RSSome knowledge of world religion(s) is essential for professionals who work within the Canadian multicultural complex, and for anyone who wishes to participate in the global economy. The study of religion(s) helps us to understand cultural values and respond to the diversity that is found in our communities, Canadian public life, and international relations. 

Studies in Islamic and Arab Cultures

Studies in Islamic and Arab Cultures is an interdisciplinary academic minor that introduces students to the diversity of Islam and Muslims through courses on contemporary issues, Arabic language, Islamic civilization and culture, art, history, and much more. It introduces students to a culture shared by more than 1.6 billion people worldwide. The goal of this program is to help you discover the Golden Age of Islam, during with much of our common heritage was developed in art, science, technology, medicine, astronomy, and mathematics. 

Languages make you stand out

Take the time to master another language, whether it's American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Mohawk (Kanien’kéha), or fine-tune your English skills as a non-native speaker. In a global community that continues to get smaller, communication across many cultures is becoming increasingly important. Adding a language component to your degree will not only help you connect, but will also make you stand out.

American Sign Language

Historians believe early humans used signs to communicate long before spoken language was created. You may have also communicated this way in various situations—waving hello, pointing to an item on a menu, or hailing a cab, are all examples of sign language in its most elemental form.

American Sign Language (ASL) has evolved to be more complex— the language uses eyes, hands, face, and the body to communicate. Learning ASL helps you to develop an awareness and sensitivity to the Deaf community. In addition to being bilingual, ASL offers the benefits of bimodality.


Arabic is one of the six most populous languages of the world, native tongue of over 300 million people, and used as a second or foreign language by over 1.6 billion people. Our Arabic language program offers a variety of options for non-native speakers interested in learning a new language for personal, professional, or academic reasons. 


Classes focus on Chinese language, plus lectures on topics including Chinese history, literature, religion, political and economical systems, and comparisons between Chinese and Western cultures. With a fully immersive teaching environment and small class sizes that don't exceed 30, our Chinese courses will help anyone build a solid language base. 

English Language Studies

More than 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students from across six faculties enroll in English for Multilingual Speakers (EMLS) credit courses each year. If you are a University of Waterloo student who doesn't speak English as a first language, you can register for an EMLS course offered at Renison. These classes focus on pronunciation, phonetics, presentation skills, reading and listening comprehension, undergraduate essay writing, and graduate thesis/article composition. These classes were formerly known as English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. 


Even if you've never spoken a word of Japanese, you can build a solid language base in our interactive lectures. The small tutorial classes will help to develop your communication skills with various in-class activities. Group projects with other students will provide opportunities to integrate each of the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). 


Students learn the language from the bottom-up, starting with the Korean alphabet and continuing on until you're able to listen, speak, read, and write. Our courses utilize curriculum that we have specifically created for beginners in a university setting, and all the materials used in class are based on the philosophy that learning Korean should be "easy to understand and easy to acquire". 

Mohawk (Kanien’kéha)

Learn Mohawk Language (Kanien’kéha). This is the University of Waterloo's first Indigenous language course. The course is offered through Culture and Language Studies, in collaboration with the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre at United College and is intended for University of Waterloo students in any Faculty or discipline with minimal to no knowledge of Kanien’kéha.

Non-credit learning opportunities

Renison offers a variety of non-credit programs for those looking to take professionally taught, academic courses in a university setting without the requirement of being enrolled at the university. Visit Renison Continuing Education for more details on courses available right now.