Bachelor of Social Work

Create Positive Change through Justice, Equity, and Respect for Diversity

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) will prepare you for generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities. The BSW is offered through an accessible and inclusive curriculum, in a learning environment that fosters caring and ethical social work practice within a local and global context. At Waterloo, you’ll learn a broad range of social work practice theories, approaches, and skills to advance your understanding of social injustices as well as your ability to participate in social transformation.

The School of Social Work recognizes that your passion for social work may be influenced by life experiences that are shaped by racism, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, anti-Indigenous racism and colonization, sexism and cissexism, homophobia and transphobia, classism, and ableism, among other forms of discrimination. We seek to support a teaching and learning community that values diverse experiences, knowledges, and perspectives.

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Why pursue a BSW at Waterloo?

  • Complete your post-graduate degree in as little as 10-months
  • Unparalleled support from the Program Manager, Director, Field Consultants, Field Instructors, Faculty, Staff, and Peers
  • Gain knowledge and skills in social work practice with a focus on social justice, research/scholarship, and professional leadership

The BSW application process for the full-time option for entry in fall 2024, is now CLOSED.

The BSW application process for the part-time option for winter 2024 is now OPEN.

Program Options

Your BSW degree can be completed in 10 months (full-time) or (part-time) within 2 years. 

  • Full-time studies: Completed in 10 months (3 terms) of university study. You will be in academic courses on campus two days per week (Thursday and Friday) and complete your field practicum three days a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday).
  • Part-time studies: Completed within 2 years of study. Two courses are offered in each semester. Effective winter 2024, the part-time BSW will be moving to a blended learning environment. Blended learning courses are primarily online but will have one or two in-person elements each semester. Part-time students practicum requirements will entail a minimum of two 7 hour days per week between Monday and Friday during business hours. 
  • Social Service Worker pathway: Applicants to the University of Waterloo who hold a Social Service Worker diploma and who are applying to the SDS/BSW pathway at Renison University College are eligible for conditional admission consideration to the BSW Program.

Note: Neither the full-time and part-time options are offered online 

Whether you choose to study full-time or part-time, you will complete:

  • Seven core courses
  • One elective course
  • 720 hours of field practicum (see Field Education)
  • Three Field Integration Seminar courses (see Field Education)

Full details:


Field Placements

Field education is an integral educational component of the BSW Program and includes:

  • A minimum of 720 hours of field-based learning experiences in community agencies  
    • Full-time students are in their placement settings 3 days per week throughout the program.
    • Part-time students may negotiate their practicum hours with the agency. Part-time students practicum requirements will entail a minimum of two 7 hour days per week between Monday and Friday during business hours.   
  • The application of social work theory to practice in a social work setting
  • Regular professional field instruction
  • Professional development as social work practitioners through work with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations
  • An Integration Seminar designed to help students integrate field experiences with academic course content

You will work closely with the Field Education Team to identify a field practicum opportunity. Some field placement sites include:

  • Child Protection Agencies
  • Shelter system (e.g., street involved; intimate partner violence)
  • Correctional Services
  • Community-based agencies (e.g., drop-in; health centre)
  • Long-term care
  • Research

The location of your placement is determined through consultation and agreement among you, the BSW Program Manager, the BSW Field Education Coordinator, and the practicum agency/organization. 

Our Field Education program also offers professional development opportunities for our community-based field instructors through workshops and programs throughout the year.

More details about BSW field education

Admissions Requirements

Admission requirements for the full-time and part-time BSW program:

  1. The successful completion of either a three-year or four-year undergraduate university degree (Bachelor of Arts or equivalent) from an accredited university, with a 70% average and at least 6.0 academic units (12 one-semester courses) in the social sciences, including the required 10 pre-requisite courses listed below or their equivalents. We are unable to make exceptions to this requirement.
  2. Required pre-requisite social work courses
  3. English Language Requirement
  4. Admissions Information Form
  5. References (1 academic and 2 professional)
  6. Personal Statement

Conditional Admission

If you have completed Bachelor of Arts degree (or equivalent) and 6 or more of the BSW pre-requisite courses, you may be considered for conditional admission into the program. Conditional admission is based on your successful completion of all academic requirements with a cumulative overall average in the pre-requisite courses of at least 75%. Please see required pre-requisite courses for further details.

Note: You can continue working on outstanding pre-requisite courses during the application process by applying for admission as Arts Non-degree/Post-degree students.

For further information please contact:

Renison Admissions

Social Service Worker Pathway

If you hold a Social Service Worker diploma (or equivalent) and are applying to the Social Development Studies (SDS)/BSW pathway at the University of Waterloo, you are eligible for conditional admission consideration to the BSW Program. This will be conditional on your completion of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Development Studies (SDS) with a 70% minimum overall average (with a 75% average for the 7 BSW pre-requisite courses). This constitutes a one-step pathway to the BSW degree.

Mature Students

If you have completed a Bachelor of Arts degree (or equivalent) four or more years prior to your application and do not meet the minimum required 70% overall average, you may be considered for admission to the Bachelor of Social Work program as either a part-time or full-time student. You will be required to complete the pre-requisite courses with a cumulative overall average of at least 75% in those courses.

For further information please contact: Keri Raif Sura, Administration and Student Services Manager, School of Social Work.

Are you a French Canadian Citizen?

Canadian citizens with qualifications from French-speaking universities in Canada are not required to submit an English Language Proficiency (ELP) certificate. However, we are an English speaking institution and as such you need to ensure that your English speaking/comprehension skills are at a level that you would succeed in our program.

Did you complete your studies outside of Canada?

International applicants, and applicants educated outside of Canada, are eligible to apply to the BSW program.

Further details.

The BSW program inspired me to do my best in my chosen career. I have become passionate about seeking social justice and equality for the oppressed, irrespective of gender, age, race, religion, ability and sexual orientation. 

Martha, BSW graduate

How to Apply

The application process for the BSW program includes the following steps:

Step 1

Complete the online BSW application 

Step 2

Prepare your supporting documents:

Step 3

Upload your application materials and supporting documents (personal statement, resume, and unofficial transcripts)

  • for full-time applications, fall 2024 start: AIF due by January 12, 2024. References and all  supporting documentation due January 26, 2024.  Application process closes January 26, 2024.

Career and Further Education Options

Career Options

Your BSW degree lays the foundation for generalist practice in a range of social service, health settings and communities. The theories, approaches, and skills developed through the BSW degree will ensure your strong ability to engage with individuals, families, and communities through a social justice lens for assessment, intervention, advocacy, and social action purposes. Career sectors for graduates include:

  • child welfare
  • community mental health and addiction
  • settlement services
  • youth
  • Black, Indigenous and people of colour
  • persons with disabilities.

Further Education

Graduates from the BSW program often pursue Master of Social Work degrees or other Master's degrees in related areas (e.g., public health, law), as well as PhDs in Social Work, Public Health, Health Systems, and Social Justice Education, among other doctoral degrees.

Common Questions

  1. Is the BSW program offered online?

    No. BSW students are required to take courses offered in a variety of formats including on-campus, online, and multi-model (a combination of online and on-campus components). Therefore, while certain components of the BSW program may be offered online, the program itself is not strictly online. 
  2. I am a College transfer student. Will I be able to transfer credits toward my BSW degree?

    No. You will need to complete an undergraduate degree before being eligible to apply to the BSW program. 

    You may be able to transfer your credits to the Social Development Studies BA degree, offered at Renison.  After you complete your BA studies you would be eligible to apply to our BSW degree. For information about the Social Development Studies BA degree, please contact

    As well as a completed BA (or equivalent) undergraduate degree in the social sciences, all applicants must have completed 10 pre-requisite social work courses to be eligible to apply to our post-BA BSW program.  

    BSW Admission Requirements

    Admission Requirements - University of Waterloo

    Applicants to the University of Waterloo who hold a Social Service Worker diploma and who are applying to the SDS/BSW pathway at Renison University College are eligible for conditional admission consideration to the BSW Program. For full details, see the Social Service Worker Pathway
  3. What is the tuition cost for the BSW Program? When are my tuition fees due, and how are they paid?

    Renison BSW students pay the same tuition fees as University of Waterloo Arts undergraduate students and must adhere to the deadlines and procedures of the University of Waterloo. These fees are charged on a term-by-term basis for full-time students, and on a per-course basis for part-time students. For full details, visit Waterloo's Student Financial Services, scroll down to to 'Undergraduate' and select the appropriate term. BSW students are charged at the Regular Year 4 rate. 

    Student fee bills are posted on Quest approximately one month prior to the start of lectures each term. Students are notified at their e-mail address at that time. Tuition fees are generally due a couple weeks before each term. "Fee due dates" are listed on the Important Dates webpage provided by the University of Waterloo's Registrar's Office for the appropriate academic year. This means that you must be "Fees Arranged" by the stated due date. For more information on how to become "Fees Arranged" and pay tuition fees, please visit the How to become "Fees Arranged" webpage

For more, visit Frequently Asked Questions

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Want to learn more about Renison's School of Social Work or the Bachelor of Social Work? 

Kari Raif Sura

Meet Keri

Hi there! I am Keri Raif Sura, the Administrator and Student Services Manager at the School of Social Work. I can help answer your questions about the Bachelor of Social Work.

You can reach me through: