Degree and Specialization Checklists

SDS Major and Minor

Social Development Studies (SDS) is a Bachelor of Arts degree available through the University of Waterloo, though the department is housed in Renison University College.

Students can complete an SDS major with or without specializations, or an SDS minor (if pursuing a different major or in Liberal Studies). More information on declaring majors or minors.

A current degree in SDS* includes the major (12-16 courses), the Communication Requirement (ARTS 130 + ARTS 140), arts breadth requirements, and lots of free space to pursue areas of interest. Always check the Undergraduate Calendar year requirements corresponding both to the year in which you enrolled in the Faculty of Arts (Program-Level [BA] degree requirements) and in Social Development Studies (Academic Plan requirements)

*Please contact your advisor if you are unsure what calendar year requirements you're following, or if you started an SDS major or minor plan prior to September 2018 (checklists differ).

Current checklists (started Fall 2018 or later)

*Checklists are best viewed when downloaded and opened in Adobe.

TIP: Advisors are happy to help support students and clarify requirements, but it is a student's responsibility to confirm that all requirements for graduation are met using the resources available (e.g. applicable websites and advisors). 

SDS Specializations

Specializations are available to SDS major students and are a way to enhance the degree by taking courses focused in a specific area. They consider only credited courses towards completion (i.e. no averages).

To add a specialization, complete a plan modification form and send to your SDS academic advisor. Completed specializations will be noted on your degree diploma and transcript.

Current checklists (effective Fall 2020):

Specialization Title & Checklist Description Total Number of Courses
SW - Social Work specialization checklist (PDF) Designed for students interested in social work, and includes some prerequisite courses required to apply to the Bachelor of Social Work program at Renison. 5
ED - Education specialization checklist (PDF) Designed for students interested in professions within the private and public sectors of education, including graduate studies. Focuses on teaching and learning, children and youth, program development and evaluation, and policy analysis. 6 with at least 5 from top SDS section
IWD - Individual Wellbeing and Development specialization checklist (PDF)* Designed to support students in their own personal development and includes psychosocial content applicable to careers in life coaching and training, leadership development, human resources, etc. 6 with at least 4 from top SDS section
DE - Diversity and Equity specialization checklist (PDF)  Designed for students interested in undertaking critical analysis of power and privilege in relation to various forms of diversity (culture, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, etc.), towards work with people from diverse backgrounds. 6 with at least 4 from top SDS section
SPSA - Social Policy and Social Action specialization checklist (PDF) Designed for students with career interests in law, global governance, human rights, health, housing, environment, and public service.  6 with at least 4 from top SDS section

*can be done remotely, contact your SDS academic advisor to learn more.


  • There is no limit to the number you can do, though most students complete 1 or 2 pending degree plan, course choices, and other academic goals.
  • Only three specializations are eligible for online-only students based on the number of consistent online course offerings: Social Work, Education, and Individual Well-being & Development. They are noted above with asterisks.
  • Some specializations have a list of 400-level courses (450R, 490R, 495R, 496R, 499A/B). These are not standard lectures or seminars, and require a separate application for enrolment. They can only count towards a specialization if the SDS Department Chair approves a submitted application and the topic matches the specialization theme.
  • If interested in Renison's BSW program, please see their website for full admission requirements as they go beyond the Social Work specialization.
  • If you declared others specializations between Fall 2016 to Spring 2020, please email your academic advisor to ensure you're tracking the correct requirements. Students must follow plans associated with the term coded to their Quest as newer versions may not be accurate.