Cape Breton University’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program is designed to prepare the next generation of social workers with practice-ready skills to address social and systemic inequities. In response to pressing socio-economic crises and healthcare challenges, the BSW program uses a trauma-informed lens which emphasizes bio-psycho-social determinants of health, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and decolonization of social work practice, generational dimensions of poverty and addiction and culturally safe practices and care.
The BSW curriculum is relevant to practice across Nova Scotia and beyond wherever rural, Indigenous and de-industrialize communities are found and intersect.
An accelerated 16-month program pre-accredited through the Canadian Association of Social Work Education (CASWE), the BSW program adheres to the core learning objectives of CAWSE while maintaining the commitments to an inclusive and supportive learning environment that enables ongoing self-reflection and the integration of theory, research and practice through hands-on learning experiences. The BSW program offers opportunities for intra-professional collaboration and aims to thoughtfully prepare practice ready social workers for the profession. The BSW program is delivered full-time, on campus with the exception of two field practicums. Currently we do not offer a part-time study option.
CBU’s Social Work Department is dedicated to building a cohort of individuals reflective of numerous diversities, life experiences and skill sets. As part of the program’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, Indigenous rights holders, African Nova Scotian and other equity seeking individuals are invited to self-identify when completing their admission application, as well as within their supplemental Personal Statement. The program is also committed to seeking students from rural areas in an effort to meet the ever-growing need for social work services in these remote areas. To learn more about the Indigenous and African Nova Scotia admissions stream, please visit CBU.ca/equity&access.
CBU is a place where courageous ideas, bold thinking and innovative approaches come together to create something special. You can see it in our accreditation, our location and our reputation. Home to nearly 7,000 students from more than 70 countries around the world, our diverse campus community paired with our commitment to providing an exceptional student experience truly makes CBU one of a kind.
The BSW program is one of two social work programs in Nova Scotia. The accelerated program structure consists of 16 months, which gives our students a competitive edge in the workforce allowing them to practice sooner than other programs. A small cohort of 30 students promotes hands on learning experiences to prepare practice ready social workers. Multiple resources at CBU are available to support students while studying in the program.
The BSW was developed through a two-eyed seeing approach, centring L’nu and other indigenous ways of knowing, in addition to prioritizing an environment for student and faculty interactions.
What skills will I gain from this program?
Garner an understanding of how to apply foundational knowledge of theory, policy, and practice to core activities of assessment, advocacy, relationship building, and capacity building among individuals, groups and communities.
Develop the ability to deliver services and provide culturally safe practice to Indigenous, African Nova Scotian and other diverse communities.
Understand the connection of historical and present-day experiences of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and histories, as well as a deepened understanding of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Effectively communicate via oral, written, and visual modes, including persuasive forms for advocacy, and grant writing, across a variety of settings and contexts.
Learn how to employ research methodologies and evaluation skills to identify promising practices that will advance evidence-based social work practice.
Learn to recognize one’s own individual signs of stress and wellness, through the application of a self-reflective approach to practice.
Foster an understanding around the importance of advancing the practice of social work through ongoing professional development and a commitment to reconciliation and lifelong learning.
Gain practical advocacy skills to engage in social justice work for marginalized and underrepresented communities.
Possible Career Arenas
Mental Health & Addictions
Schools and Education
Refugees and Immigrants
Children and Youth
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Two field practicums totalling 700 hours. Students will complete a 250 hour practicum in term two and 450 hour practicum in term four. The final practicum allows students to study remotely in the community of their choice.
The practicums will integrate theory and practice, to enable students to further develop, refine and enhance the values, knowledge and skills reflective of CAWSE core learning objectives.
Two embedded certificate options, one in Mental Health Promotion in Social Work and the other in Indigenous Perspectives in Social Work. Students interested in completing one of the optional certificates must apply by the end of the first term.
The Mental Health in Promotion in Social Work certificate will emphasize preventative and early intervention approaches for addictions and mental health while providing future social workers with greater knowledge regarding mental health challenges and strategies when working with individuals at risk.
The Indigenous Perspectives in Social Work certificate will deepen students’ understanding and knowledge of Mi’kmaw history, culture, traditions, cultural humility and common healing practices. The certificate will also provide students with a greater appreciation of the impact of intergenerational trauma and decolonizing practice skills.
Certificate options are limited to 12 students due to the unique learning environment and the availability of field practicum placements that are used to support the certificate option.
Transferring Your Credits
CBU welcomes all students, past, and current with an interest in continuing their education. If you have completed social work courses at another recognized post-secondary institution, you may be able to transfer those courses to CBU.
In order to be eligible for admission into the BSW program, students must have completed an undergraduate degree (minimum of a 90-credit degree). A maximum of 6-12 credits may be considered toward the BSW program.
Due to the unique nature of the BSW curriculum as it relates to rural and indigenous competencies, students may not be able to transfer credits from another institution’s BSW program. Transfer credit will be given on a case-by-case basis as deemed appropriate by the BSW Program Director in consultation with the Dean of the School of Arts and Social Sciences. Credit from other Field Practicum courses cannot be transferred.
Current students enrolled at CBU may also be eligible to transfer internal credits in a situation where a CBU student has taken a cross-listed undergraduate course which is part of the BSW curriculum. A maximum of 6 credits may be considered for transfer. Such applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the BSW Program Director in consultation with the Dean and Registrar and may involve additional academic or financial requirements.
CBU has many articulation and transfer agreements with various partner institutions and organizations across Canada. This supports students in gaining credit toward a degree or diploma at CBU. Students who choose to study at CBU via an articulation agreement are eligible to transfer up to 45 credits. Once an undergraduate degree is earned, students are eligible to apply to the BSW program, given all other admission requirements are met.
Admission to the BSW program is not guaranteed based on your prior transfer to CBU.
To learn more about CBU’s Articulation Agreement and partnering institutions, visit CBU.ca/articulation.
Admission Requirements & Supplemental Information
Completion of an undergraduate degree (minimum of a 90-credit degree) and submission of transcripts from all post-secondary institutions
Three references: one academic and two professional
Applications will be screened during the admissions process and selected applicants will move forward to an interview
All course requirements must be met by May 1 in order to be eligible for Fall (September) admission
Indigenous, African-Nova Scotian, and equity-seeking applicants are invited to self-identify in their Personal Statement as part of the program’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. Indigenous and African-Nova Scotian applicants who self-identify may choose to apply under a specialized Indigenous & African Nova Scotian admission stream. All applicants within this stream will be forwarded directly to the interview phase of the application process provided they have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and have submitted all required application materials.
*Individuals with a grade average below 70 will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Admission for this program is only open to domestic students at this time.
Grade average of most recent 30 credits
Work and Volunteer Experience
For more information about the program, admission requirements or general questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social work is a profession concerned with helping individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being. Social workers aim to help people develop their skills and their abilities to use their resources and those of the community to resolve problems.
Social work is concerned with individual and personal problems but also with broader social issues such as poverty, unemployment and domestic violence.
Reference: Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW-ACTS.ca)
Due to the unique set of skills social workers possess, the scope of practice within the social work profession has been evolving greatly over the last number of years. Social workers can be found in a variety of work settings including clinics, social service agencies, schools, government offices, hospitals, court systems, correctional facilities, post-secondary institutions, family service agencies and private companies.
Some examples of populations social workers often work with include individuals with addiction and mental health issues, individuals with disabilities, veterans, students in schools, refugees and immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, children in the welfare system, families and individuals in hospice.
Applications will be screened on an ongoing basis when the admissions application opens. Selected applicants will move forward to an interview. As part of the program’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, Indigenous rights holders, African Nova Scotians and equity seeking applicants will be invited to self-identify when completing their admission application as well as within their personal statement, a required supplemental document.
Indigenous and African-Nova Scotian applicants who self-identify may choose to apply under a specialized Indigenous and African Nova Scotian/Canadian admission stream. All applicants within this stream will be forwarded directly to the interview phase of the application process provided they have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and have submitted all other required supplemental documents.
Interviews will take place during the months of March and April of each year. Acceptance letters will be sent out at the beginning mid-May of each year.
The application period to apply to the BSW program is between October 15 2023 – February 15, 2024 for a September 2024 start.
The BSW program has only one start date – September (Fall).
There is currently no waitlist for this program.
The BSW at CBU is an accelerated 16-month post-baccalaureate degree, consisting of 60 credits (17 courses) including two field practicums totalling 700 hours. There are two certificate options (non-requirement) embedded in the program’s design: one in Mental Health Promotion in Social Work and the other in Indigenous Perspectives in Social Work. Students can choose to combine paired electives with a targeted final field practicum to advance their learning in one of these two areas of importance.
The BSW at CBU is a full-time, on-campus degree program with the exception of field practicums. Currently, there is no option to study part-time.
Students will participate in two field practicums totalling 700 hours during their social work program at CBU. Students will complete a 250-hour practicum in Term Two and 450 hours in Term Four. The purpose of the field practicum is to integrate theory and practice, enabling students to further develop, refine, and enhance the values, knowledge, and skills reflective of the core learning objectives identified in the CASWE accreditation standards. (EPAS, CASWE 2021)
The first field practicum in Term Two will take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Students will attend classes on Mondays and Tuesdays during this term. The last field practicum will take place five days a week in the final term. Students will have the option of fulfilling their final practicum in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) or at another location off island if they so desire. Most of the classes in the final term will be offered in dual mode and will provide students the flexibility to complete their practicum hours in a geographical location that best suits their needs.
At this time, CBU does not offer a Master’s in Social Work. We continue to explore potential expansions of the program in the future.
In order to be eligible for the BSW program, students must have completed an undergraduate degree of at least 90 credits (i.e BACS or BA), in addition to meeting the other program admission requirements.