Social Work (MSW)

*Applicable Supervisors:
Dawn Hemingway, Associate Professor and Chair
Glen Schmidt, Professor
Bruce Bidgood, Associate Professor
Nancy Jokinen, Associate Professor
Indrani Margolin, Associate Professor
Heather Peters, Associate Professor
Joanna Pierce, Associate Professor
Si Transken, Associate Professor
Susan Burke, Assistant Professor
Dave Sangha, Assistant Professor
Tammy Stubley, Assistant Professor


The Master of Social Work program is available on a full- or part-time basis, and can be completed through a thesis or practicum route. The MSW builds on the BSW by offering students an integrated research/policy/practice concentration in one of the key thematic areas: social work in northern and remote areas, First Nations, women and the human services, and community practice and research. The aim of the MSW is to provide students with advanced social work research, policy, and practice skills. It is designed to enable students to pursue independent studies that will help them undertake a variety of responsibilities in management, policy formulation, program consultation, planning, advanced social work, clinical practice, and research within the human services.


Enrolment in the MSW is strictly limited.

In addition to the admission application requirements outlined in Section 1.0 of the Graduate Academic Calendar, all students in the Social Work MSW program are required to submit a Criminal Record Check search prior to the first day of classes in their entry semester. 

Domestic applicants must supply a Criminal Record Check search result after receiving an offer of admission and before the first day of classes; the search result is not required with the application. International applicants must submit a Criminal Record Check search result completed by their local policy authority upon application, and will also be required to submit a British Columbia Criminal Record Check if offered admission.  The Office of the Registrar will provide instructions to domestic and international applicants who have accepted offers of admission on  how to complete a British Columbia Criminal Record Check. 

Completion of the MSW Supplementary Application form is also required in order to be considered for admission. The MSW Supplementary Application form is included with the application material for this program. Two academic letters of reference and one professional letter of reference must be submitted.

Application deadlines can be found in the Graduate Programs Admissions and Regulations section of the Graduate Calendar. 

The Social Work MSW Program accepts students for the September Semester.
The MSW program at UNBC emphasizes a pro-active orientation that aims to provide informed theoretical, empirical, and substantive choices for improvements in human service programs, policies, education, and social work practice. This approach to social work and social policy is known as social administration.

The key elements in this social administration approach as they relate to the thematic areas of the MSW at UNBC consist of the following:
  • the description and analysis of the operation of human services in northern and remote regions;
  • the study of social policies and social work practices, and their individual and social consequences for the people and communities in the interior and northern British Columbia;
  • the examination of global, historical, social, and economic changes, and the way these affect the living conditions and the people served by human service agencies and organizations in northern and remote areas; and
  • the recognition of the values central to the responsibility of human service professionals to work with socially disadvantaged and powerless groups, and to expand the power and resources of these groups through social work practice.
Within this social administration approach courses are arranged so students develop skills that integrate the research/policy/practice domains of social work. A major emphasis of the MSW is to foster critical intervention skills that link the domains of social policy, social work research, and social work practice. For example, if one chooses to develop a speciality in community practice and research, or social policy, the program of studies will emphasize the linkages between these domains or dimensions of social work.


The MSW consists of a practicum or thesis option, and clusters of courses that provide for a research/policy/practice concentration in one of the key focus areas: social work in northern and remote areas, First Nations, women and the human services, and community practice and research.

Human service experience is required before candidates can be considered for the MSW program. Please see descriptions for Entry Routes 1 and 2 (below). To be admitted, a grade point average of at least 3.00 ("B") in the work of the last 60 credit hours (approximately the last two years) leading to the Baccalaureate degree is required. Letters of reference, as well as a written statement of the candidate's research and practice interests and reasons for pursuing a MSW, are also required. A personal interview may be requested. Applicants who do not meet the above requirements may still be admitted under the provisions of affirmative action.

Taking a MSW at UNBC

There are two entry routes into the MSW.

Entry from a Bachelor of Social Work leads directly into the Advanced Year of the MSW Program.

For full-time students entering from a BSW,  this MSW program consists of 33 credit hours, including completion of a thesis or practicum report.

This program requires the successful completion of a minimum course work of 21 credit hours for thesis students and 27 credit hours for practicum students.  The program comprises an integrated core of five required courses, two elective courses, and a thesis; OR five required courses, four electives, and a practicum.

Entry with a Bachelor's degree in a related field or discipline, and two years (24 months full-time equivalent) human service experience. Entry at this level begins with an MSW Foundation Year of studies.

For full-time students entering from a Bachelor's degree in a related field, this MSW program consists of a minimum two-year (24-month) program of courses and practica. A thesis or practicum report is required following completion of course work. An oral defense is required for the thesis. This route normally includes 66 credit hours, consisting of 33 credit hours in each of the two years.



Thesis students must take the following required courses:

SOCW 609-3Advanced Quantitative Research
HHSC 703-3Advanced Qualitative Research Approaches in Health and Human Sciences
SOCW 704-3MSW Integrative Seminar
MSW Thesis 

Practicum students must take the following required courses:
Advanced Quantitative Research 
Advanced Qualitative Research Approaches in Health and Human Sciences 
MSW Integrative Seminar 
MSW Practicum II 

All students are required to take at least two of the following courses, and may take the other two courses as electives:

SOCW 601-3Current Issues in Northern/Remote Social Work
SOCW 602-3First Nations: Advanced Social Work Practice
SOCW 603-3Women: Policy/Practice Issues
SOCW 605-3Community Work/Politics of Change


SOCW 604-3*Directed Readings
SOCW 610-3Wellness: Alternative Approaches
SOCW 613-3Clinical Social Work Practice
SOCW 615-3Multi-Cultural Social Work Practice
SOCW 620-3Policy Making/Human Services
SOCW 621-3Comparative Welfare Analysis
SOCW 640-3Social Work Supervision and Leadership
SOCW 651-3Legal Issues for Women
SOCW 670-3Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: Past/Present/Future
SOCW 671-3Reflections on Practice: Child/Youth Mental Health
SOCW 672-3Social Work/Counselling Skills with Children/Youth
SOCW 673-3Mental Illness and Addictions Among Children/Youth
SOCW 674-3Crisis Work With Children/Youth: Restoring Balance
SOCW 675-3Community-based Prevention: Creating Balance
SOCW 698-3Special Topics
Research Practicum
Thesis students are required to take two electives. Those who may be taken from the two lists immediately above, and from other UNBC graduate programs, and/or from other accredited Canadian universities via approved transfer agreements (e.g. the Western Deans' Agreement).

Practicum students are required to take three electives, one of which must come from the two lists of courses immediately above.  The two other electives may come from the above lists and/or be taken from other UNBC graduate programs and/or from other accredited Canadian universities via approved transfer agreements (e.g the Western Deans' Agreement).

*Students may only take SOCW 604-3 Directed Readings course once for 3 credits.

MSW Foundation Year

For those with baccalaureate degrees in related areas and two years of full-time previous human service experience, the MSW normally consists of 66 credit hours (two years) of study. The foundation year consists of six 600-level courses, two 600-level social work electives, plus SOCW 632-9 (MSW Practicum I).

The 600-level courses are:

SOCW 630-3Communication Skills
SOCW 631-3Critical Social Work Practice
SOCW 632-9MSW Practicum I
SOCW 633-3Critical Social Policy
SOCW 634-3Social Work Research/Policy/Practice
SOCW 635-3Social Work Philosophy and Ethics
SOCW 637-3
Advanced Practice
MSW students in their Foundation Year must successfully complete SOCW 634-3 prior to registration in SOCW 609-3 and HHSC 703-3.

Aboriginal Child and Youth Mental Health Graduate Certificate

The Certificate is designed for students who see to practice in the area of Aboriginal child and youth mental health with a focus on working in northern and remote communities. In particular, this Certificate will provide the education and skills necessary to work with children and youth who are experiencing significant mental health issues or are at high risk. The certificate consists of 18 credit hours of 600-level course work.

The Aboriginal Child and Youth Mental Health Graduate Certificate program is open to Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Child and Youth Care graduates. Those with related Bachelor-level degrees may also be eligible to apply, subject to the approval of the Chair of the School of Social Work, Those with a Master of Social Work or related Master's-level degree are also eligible to apply.
Graduate students in social work and other disciplines may take individual certificate courses as electives subject to approval of the Chair of the School of Social Work. Students wishing to audit coursework in the Certificate program may also do so subject to the approval of the Chair of the School of Social Work and to UNBC admitting and auditing regulations and policies set out in the graduate academic calendar. Courses taken for audit only do not earn academic credit.
Note: Students are required to undergo a criminal records search prior to being admitted as set out in the regulations and policies of the graduate academic calendar.
Admission into the Certificate program is limited and requires the recommendation of the Chair of the School of Social Work.

Standards of Professional Conduct
All students are expected to abide by professional standards as set forth by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) and the relevant Social Work Codes of Ethics. Violation of professional standards may result in suspension or dismissal from the program or the educational institution.

Qualification for Certificate
To fulfill the requirements of graduation, the student must:
  • attain a minimum Cumulative GPA of 2.67 (B-) on courses for credit towards the Certificate
  • complete all course requirements for the Certificate
Certificate Requirements
Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: Past/Present/Future 
Reflections on Practice: Child/Youth Mental Health 
Social Work/Counselling Skills with Children/Youth 
Mental Illness and Addictions Among Children/Youth 
Crisis Work With Children/Youth: Restoring Balance 
Community-based Prevention: Creating Balance