Human Services Diploma

Build on your Human Services certificate and gain knowledge and skills to work in human service agencies providing community support, education assistance, social services and behaviour interventionism. You will make employer connections and gain practical skills as you participate in workplace practicums, community-based partnerships and research opportunities.


Applications for Fall 2021 start will open Thurs, Oct 1, 2020

Where: Comox Valley
Starts: September
Length: 1 year
Delivery: On-campus and Digital (Blended)

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The atmosphere here is so diverse, warm, inviting and uplifting. It helped me on my journey and I know it helped others as well.

David Dawson, NIC Human Services diploma alumnus

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Program Requirements

Year 1

Completion of the Human Services Education Assistant/Community Support Certificate or Human Services Education Assistant/Community Support Certificate, Indigenous Focus

Year 2

5 courses totaling 15 credits chosen from:

  • SSW-120 Foundations of Social Work Practice
  • SSW-122 Social Welfare In Canada
  • SSW-201 Family Relationships
  • SSW-203 Conflict Management
  • SSW-204 Program Planning, Development and Implementation
  • SSW-205 Introduction to Group Work Practice
  • SSW-206 Self Care in Human Services
  • SSW-207 Law and Social Services
  • SSW-208 Social Work Practice in Mental Health and Addictions
  • SSW-209 Contemporary Perspectives on Substance Abuse
  • SSW-210 Community Development
  • or any 200 level HSW courses


  • HSW-250 Advanced Practice Experience

Plus 5 courses totaling 15 credits chosen from: Any English, humanities, or social sciences courses that transfer to BC degree granting institutions.

Practice Experience

Practicum opportunities are an important component of the program, allowing you to integrate theory with practical experience in the community. You will connect with industry leaders and receive mentorship and guidance as you work directly with vulnerable populations. This could include local community organizations or international opportunities, depending on availability.

Weekly seminars provide additional learning and connections of theory with practice. You will be placed in a variety of settings including, but not limited to, agencies that support families or individuals who are struggling with financial or family challenges, violence, addiction or mental health. This allows you to learn exactly what the job entails and what skills are required. If you are interested in education and community support or behaviour interventionism you will be provided with practice placements relative to those fields.

This is a holistic approach to learning, and many students report that gaining related work experience while pursuing their education is helpful in obtaining employment afterwards.

Completion Requirements

  1. A letter grade of C (60%) or better in all classes.
  2. A letter grade of P (Pass) in all Practicum courses.
  3. Students must receive a letter grade of C (60%) or better in all core (HSW, SSW and PSY-250 and PSY-251) courses to be promoted from one term to the next term. A student who fails any core course in the program cannot progress until the course is passed. University Transfer and ENG-115 or ENG-125 courses are not a requirement of progression but must be completed with a grade of C (60%) or better in order to obtain the credential.

    In order to repeat a core course, you must reapply to the program in a subsequent offering of the same term in which the failure occurred providing there is an available seat. If in repeating the course, you fail again, then you will be removed entirely from the program and can only re-enter by going through the admission process. Please note that you may be required to begin at term one of the diploma year.
    If you fail a core course, re-enter the program and successfully repeat the failed core course, and then fail another core course, you will be removed entirely from the program and can only re-enter by through the admission process. Please note that you may be required to begin at term one of the diploma year.
    Re-entering the program under any circumstance is dependent on an available seat and at the discretion of the human services department and in consultation with the Dean. If you fail a core course you may be asked to complete a learning assessment prior to being reconsidered for re-admission. These regulations are important to the profession to ensure that graduates have the required skills and knowledge, and are therefore deemed safe to practice.
  4. All students are required to adhere to the program expectations document and the Canadian Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Ethical Practice. Failure to adhere to these standards may result in your being required to leave the program.

Admission Requirements

  1. Completion of an Education Assistant/Community Support Certificate or Education Assistant/Community Support Certificate, Indigenous Focus or equivalent Human Services Certificate within the last 5 years with a minimum C (60%) in each course.
  2. Applicants with credentials older than 5 years or from another institution are required to have the following:
    a) Minimum C (60%) in each course.
    b) Completed 20 hours volunteer work and HSW Professional Reference Form.
    c) Signed Human Services Requisite Skills and Abilities document.
    d) 300 word HSW Letter of Intent for coming into the program and career goals.


International Language Requirements

If you are applying as an international student, you must meet NIC international admission requirements.

Upgrade with us to meet prerequisites

Upgrade your English, math and science courses for entry into the program of your choice. Succeed with the help of NIC’s supportive instructors. Courses are flexible and start several times a year so you can learn at your own pace. We offer daytime and evening options. Learn more

Before Classes Begin

Attend a group information session. This mandatory session is designed to assist students in making an informed decision about pursuing a career in Human Services. The admissions department will send you an invitation with details regarding the date and time of the information session. Please note: NIC students who have completed their EACSW certificate are not required to attend this session.

Once accepted to the program but before classes begin, you will be required to:

  • hold a Standard First Aid Certification with CPR Level C that will remain valid through to the end of the program.
  • complete a Personal Immunization form which will be sent to you by the admissions office when you have a seat in the program. It must be validated by the public health nurse at your local health unit. Please note: For NIC students who have completed their EACSW certificate and previously submitted this form, it is not a requirement.
  • submit a Criminal Record Check permission form, which will be sent to you by Admissions once you are offered a seat in the program. Please note: Criminal record checks are valid for five years; previous NIC students may not need to resubmit this form.

Transfer Credit & Credit For Prior Learning

Students with previous course work from another accredited institution may apply to transfer course credits to North Island College. For more information refer to Steps to University Transfer or contact Student Services.
Your previous life, work, or study experience, unassociated with formal education, may qualify for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). Your knowledge and skills will be evaluated to determine if you meet the objectives for selected courses up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the program. To qualify for PLAR, you must apply to the program, meet all the program requirements, and complete the PLAR before entering the program or one term before the scheduled course(s). The fee for each PLAR course is 75 per cent of the regular course fee. Refer to NIC policy #4-10: Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition. For information about which courses qualify for PLAR please contact the program department chair.
When you meet some learning objectives in a course(s) the assessment process may result in an exemption from some portion of the course(s). You will be required to register in the course and pay full tuition but your workload would be reduced. Note that eligibility for this process will be granted on an individual basis by the department. You must apply one semester in advance of the course start date. For more information please contact the program department chair.

To Be Successful

  • All diploma students are required to complete a Human Services Diploma Education Plan Checklist, which includes a list of all of required courses and their chosen electives, and a timeframe for completion of the diploma program. Consult with an educational advisor or human services instructor to have questions answered and/or to make changes to the plan. You are responsible for ensuring their plan is designed to meet their educational goals. A copy of the plan will be kept on file with the department.
  • If you are planning to continue on to a university degree program, consult with an educational advisor to ensure your elective choices are university transferable.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a current criminal record search and updated First Aid prior to going into HSW-250.
  • Strong essay writing and good computer skills are important as you are expected to submit well-written, word-processed assignments and access online resources.
  • Review the Human Services Requisite Skills and Abilities document to determine if you are able to meet the standards outlined. If you have concerns about meeting program expectations, human services faculty members and college counsellors are available for guidance.
  • You must receive a C or better in all classes in order to be promoted to the next term.


Accessible Learning

Making education accessible for those with a documented disability is a key priority for NIC. We offer a wide range of services, supports and resources for students. For more information visit: Accessible Learning Services.

Susan Shantz

Susan Shantz


Human Services

Susan holds a Masters of Social Work from the University of BC.  Her undergraduate in the Bachelor of Social Work comes from the University of Calgary.

Subjects: Human Service Worker, Social Services
Comox Valley Campus 250-334-5084 | Location PNT - 124

Kelly Johnsen

Kelly Johnsen

Department Chair, Faculty

Human Services

PhD in Curriculum and Instruction (University of Victoria)

Subjects: First Nations, Human Service Worker
Port Alberni Campus 250-724-8743 | Location NOR - 115b

Kerri Lowey Mackenzie

Kerri Lowey Mackenzie
Comox Valley Campus 250-334-5000 ext. 4229 | Location PNT - 124

Sally Wisden

Sally Wisden
Comox Valley Campus 250-334-5053 | Location PNT - 129

Program Highlights

NIC's human services department and its programs are part of a provincial network that ensures not only high-quality instruction and programming, but also transferability throughout the province. The program has links with Vancouver Island University, Camosun College and the University of Victoria through a Vancouver Island Collaborative Agreement, which fosters collaboration related to post-secondary education and training needs throughout the region. The human services department at NIC also works closely with community agencies to ensure that course content is current, relevant, and valued by employers in the field.
The Human Services diploma has a wide focus which allows you to pursue courses in community support, education assistance,  social services or behaviour interventionism. A variety of employment options exist in human service agencies depending on the courses chosen and final practicum focus.
The diploma provides opportunities to enhance the knowledge and skills you developed in your certificate program and can be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis. The program runs from early September until late June and includes human services (HSW) and social services (SSW) courses.
During the diploma program, you can choose from a variety of university transfer courses, including but not limited to criminology, sociology, psychology, women's studies, First Nations studies and equity and social justice. 

Career Opportunities

The Human Services diploma prepares you for employment in human services agencies that require two years of education and training.

If you wish to pursue a bachelor's degree, the Human Services diploma may provide you with transfer credit toward education, social work or child and youth care programs in the province. If you are planning to continue on to a university degree program, speak with an educational advisor to ensure your elective choices are transferable.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What type of volunteer hours do I need to qualify for the program?
    You are required to complete 20 volunteer hours in a human service agency, in direct contact with clients, prior to entering program. You must have a supervisor verify the number of hours completed and confirm acceptable performance.
  2. Will I have to go to class-related activities in the evenings or on weekends?
    There are some classes in the evening, although most are scheduled during the day. You may be required to work evenings or weekends for your  practicum placement.
  3. Can I work while taking the program?
    The diploma program can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis, allowing more opportunity to work alongside your studies.
  4. What kinds of assignments will we do?
    You will write several research papers, take part in group projects, complete video assignments, write tests and participate in a number of other classroom activities. There are many essays, research papers and written assignments; therefore, strong writing and computer skills are important.
  5. How much homework can I expect?
    You should expect to spend at least one hour on homework for every hour of class.
  6. What kinds of practicums are available?
    Practicums are available in group homes, women’s shelters, drug and alcohol recovery centers, the school district, mental health drop-in centres, First Nations community organizations, preventative family based programs, employment agencies and a variety of other human service or community based agencies.
  7. Do I need a car?
    It is an asset to have a vehicle. If you do not, you will need to find alternate transportation to practicum placements or accept practicum placements which are located close to public transit or within walking distance.
  8. Can classes be transferred?
    At this point, some classes transfer to other universities and colleges. However, if you plan to pursue a degree after the program, some bridging classes may be necessary. For more information, meet with an educational advisor.
  9. Can I use this qualification in other provinces or countries?
    You should check with the province or country in which you want to work. Graduates have used their qualifications to work in other jurisdictions; however, it is important to confirm transferability with agencies ahead of time.
  10. What if I have a lot of experience in human services already?
    If you have worked or volunteered extensively in the human services field, you may be able to receive credit for your work. Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) options exist for courses and practicums, but you still have to pay a fee and carry out some work to demonstrate your knowledge and/or skill level in the course for which you are trying to receive credit. For more information on PLAR, visit Assessment Services.

Tuition & Costs Estimate

Costs indicated are estimates for a 100% course load per year, unless otherwise noted. Additional fees may also include necessary equipment, supplies, NIC appointed uniforms, or field trips not included in these estimates.

While we do our best to share accurate and timely fee information, changes may occur. For more information, visit our tuition page.

Domestic Fees

Tuition $3,595
NISU Fees $153
Books $2,500
Learner Resource $189
Health and Dental $275
Total $6,712

Full-time students are automatically enrolled in the mandatory Health and Dental Benefit plan ($275).

Book costs noted are estimates for planning purposes.  Accurate book costs are available by course through the NIC book search.

Find out if this program is eligible for Student Aid BC funding.

This program is tuition refund Category 1.

International Fees

Tuition $16,065
NISU Fees $150
Student Services Fees $1,071
Books $2,500
Learner Resource $189
Health and Dental $275
Total $20,250

Additional costs for International students include the $100 application fee (required).

Full-time students are automatically enrolled in the mandatory Health and Dental Benefit plan ($275).

For more information on tuition costs and refunds refer to International Tuition and Costs.

Book costs noted are estimates for planning purposes.  Accurate book costs are available by course through the NIC book search.