Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who can be a member of the College?

Graduates of an approved/accredited social service work (SSW), bachelor of social work (BSW) or master of social work (MSW) program are eligible for registration with the College. Please visit our lists of approved social work programs and social service work programs.

If you are a graduate of a social work or social service work program outside Canada or the United States, or in a program that is not social work or social service work, please click here for relevant information.

How do I apply for membership?

Before downloading the appropriate registration guide, application form and Supplemental Form, if applicable, please ensure you read Information for All Applicants.

For Social Work Applicants

If you obtained a degree in social work from a social work program accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (the ‘CASWE’) you will likely meet the academic requirements for a general certificate of registration for social work. The steps to applying for registration with the OCSWSSW are to read the Registration Guide and Complete the Application form.

Arrange for your university to forward an official transcript with the institution’s seal and signature of the Registrar directly to the College. Please note that this must be done after you graduate/convocate, and only transcripts received directly from the university will be accepted.

Enclose the registration fee and the non-refundable application fee with your application.

Mail your completed application form, any other documents you submit yourself, and the full fees to the College. (A photocopy of the application or sending the application by fax or email will not be accepted.)

*Complete details on applying for membership if you have graduated from a CASWE accredited program are available here.

For Social Service Work Applicants

If you obtained a diploma in social service work from an Ontario College of Applied Arts and Technology you will likely meet the academic requirements for the issuance of a general certificate of registration for social service work. The steps to applying for registration with the OCSWSSW are to read the Registration Guide and Complete the Application form.

Arrange for your College of Applied Arts and Technology to forward an official transcript with the institution’s seal and signature of the Registrar directly to the College (OCSWSSW). Please note that this must be done after you graduate/ convocate, and only transcripts received directly from the College of Applied Arts and Technology will be accepted.

Enclose the registration fee and the non-refundable application fee with your application.

Mail your completed application form, any other documents you submit yourself, and the full fees to the College. (A photocopy of the application or sending the application by fax or email will not be accepted.)

*Complete details on applying for membership if you have graduated from a Social Service Work Diploma Program from a College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario are available here.

Why do I have to wait until I graduate to apply for membership with the College?

Only those with specialized academic qualifications are eligible for registration with the College. This is one of the ways that the College fulfills its mandate of public protection. As a student, you are still in the process of completing those requirements. Applicants must have completed a degree or diploma from an approved social service work program, or accredited bachelor or master of social work program. If you are in the process of completing your degree or diploma and would like more information on how to register once you graduate, please click here.

What is the cost of membership for a new graduate?

Please visit the registration fee chart for more information.

I won't convocate for a while, but I have been offered a job and my future employer requires me to register. What can I do?

We understand that in some circumstances you may need to register with the College before convocation. This is not the case for all new graduates. If you are graduating with a degree in social work or a diploma in social service work and require membership in the College prior to convocation – but after you have completed all the academic and practicum requirements of your program – the Registrar may issue a general certificate of registration provided all other registration requirements are met, and you agree to a term, condition and limitation on your certificate of registration. (This term, condition and limitation will be removed once the College receives verification from your academic institution that you have obtained a degree in social work or a diploma in social service work.)

Please note that this is a two-step process and is not a required step to registration. For the College to issue a certificate of registration on this basis, you must submit the following to the College:

  • Completed application form for registration as a social worker or social service worker.
  • Non-refundable application fee and registration fee. You may be eligible for a reduced fee.
  • Confirmation of Completion of Requirements for a Social Work Degree Form completed by the dean/director of your social work program OR Confirmation of Completion of Requirements for a Social Service Work Diploma Form completed by the coordinator of your social service work program, and forwarded directly to the College.
  • Student/Applicant Declaration, Consent and Undertaking Regarding a Social Work Degree Form OR Student/Applicant Declaration, Consent and Undertaking Regarding a Social Service Work Diploma Form, signed by you agreeing to the term, condition and limitation on your certificate of registration.

Due to the multiple steps in this process, it may take up to six weeks to process your application. Please apply to the College without initiating this process if you will be obtaining your social work degree or social service work diploma within approximately six weeks from the date the application is received at the College. A detailed description of the steps to apply for registration on this basis can be found here for social work graduates and here for social service work graduates.

How long does it take to process my application for registration?

The assessment of your application form does not begin until we have received all of the required documents and payment of your registration and application fees. The application process can be delayed because the College has not received all of the required documents from you or from a third party on your behalf (i.e. academic institution, employer, etc.). The typical processing time for a general application based on having obtained an accredited social work degree/ approved social service work diploma is approximately four to six weeks.

The typical time for processing an application based on having a combination of academic qualifications and experience performing the role of a social worker or social service worker is approximately three to six months.

What are the benefits of becoming a member of the College once I graduate?

Registration demonstrates commitment to accountability, ethics and excellence in social work and social service work practice. Registered social workers and registered social service workers have specialized education and participate in ongoing learning and professional development. They follow a code of ethics and standards of practice, and join a community of peers committed to excellence in practice.

Registration is also the law. Professionals who wish to use the title “social worker” or “social service worker” can only do so if they are registered with the College. Registration is also required if you represent yourself or hold yourself out as a social worker or social service worker.

Benefits of College Membership

As a College member, you are entitled to:

  • Use the restricted titles of “social service worker”/“registered social service worker” or “social worker”/“registered social worker” (depending on your class of registration).
  • Hold yourself out as a social worker or social service worker. This means representing yourself in such a way that a reasonable person would assume (from the information you provided) that you were a social worker or social service worker.
  • A reduced membership fee for new graduates (see fee chart).
  • Access information on the activities of the College through College publications including the Perspective newsletter, Practice Guidelines, Practice Notes, the website and e-bulletins.
  • Educational and networking opportunities in the Glenda McDonald Educational Series including the Annual Meeting and Education Day (AMED) and regional forums throughout Ontario.
  • Consultation with and guidance from the Professional Practice Department for ethical and practice-related questions.

I hope to get a job in the agency where I did my placement. The job title isn't social worker/social service worker, and the agency doesn't require registration with the College. Do I still need to register?

The College doesn’t have the legal authority to require employers to hire only registered professionals. As an individual, however, you must ensure that you are in compliance with the Social Work and Social Service Work Act. This means that even if the agency doesn’t require registration, you must be registered if you use the title “social worker”, “social service worker”, “registered social worker” or “registered social service worker” (or their short forms or French equivalents), or if you represent yourself or hold yourself out as a social worker or social service worker.

As a graduate from a social work/social service work program, you are no doubt committed to ensuring that the public receives services delivered by professional, ethical, qualified and accountable practitioners. Registration with the College assures consumers and the public that the professionals providing services abide by a code of ethics and standards of practice and are competent in their field.

I am currently enrolled in a social work/social service work program. Can I join the College as a student member?

The College does not have a student member category. The Registrar, however, may issue a general certificate of registration if you are graduating with a degree in social work or a diploma in social service work and require membership in the College prior to convocation. The Registrar may only do this after you have completed all the academic and practicum requirements of your program – and provided that all other registration requirements are met and that you agree to a term, condition and limitation on the certificate of registration.

Please note that this is a two-step process and is not a required step to registration.

To issue a certificate of registration on this basis, the following must be submitted to the College:

  • Completed application form for registration as a social worker or social service worker, as the case may be.
  • Non-refundable application fee and registration fee.
  • Confirmation of Completion of Requirements for a Social Work Degree Form completed by the dean/director of your social work program OR Confirmation of Completion of Requirements for a Social Service Work Diploma Form completed by the coordinator of your social service work program, and forwarded directly to the College.
  • Student/Applicant Declaration; and Consent and Undertaking Regarding a Social Work Degree Form OR Student/Applicant Declaration; and Consent and Undertaking Regarding a Social Service Work Diploma Form, signed by you agreeing to the term, condition and limitation on your certificate of registration.

Note that due to the multiple steps in this process, it may take up to six weeks to process your application. If you will be obtaining your social work degree or social service work diploma within approximately six weeks from the date the application is received at the College, please apply to the College without initiating this process.

A detailed description of the steps to apply for registration on this basis can be found in the section of the College website which corresponds to your academic qualifications.

Do I need to pass an entry-to-practice examination in order to join the College?

Not at this time. The entry-to-practice examination for the social work category and the entry-to-practice examination for the social service work category are not currently in place.

How can I access my file? How long do you keep my record? Can you return my submitted documents to me?

The College does not return any original documents submitted for the purposes of registration. However, at your written request, the College will provide a copy of submitted documents, unless the Registrar believes that to do so may jeopardize the safety of any person. Your written request must be received by mail and include your original signature. Currently, all records are kept indefinitely but may be stored in a secure location off-site. The College will only release a copy of your record to you, unless you provide your consent to release it to a third party.

I am currently enrolled in a community services worker program at a private career college in Ontario. Will I be eligible upon graduation to apply for registration as a social service worker and/or as a social worker?

No. Programs from private career colleges do not meet the education requirement(s) for registration in either category of the College (SSW or SW). This applies to any application for registration.

Accumulating post-graduate work experience does not alter this.

Are there any variables that would slow down the normal registration/evaluation process?

Any of the following circumstances would slow down the registration/evaluation process:

  • Incomplete applications – Please double check your application to ensure it’s completed before sending it to the College.
  • Receiving any/all transcripts from the applicant and not directly from the educational institution(s).
  • Receiving transcripts lacking information (e.g., no indication if a degree/diploma was conferred; transfer credits without any indication as to what credit value they carry; typing errors).
  • Not receiving the academic institution’s official course descriptions for courses completed that are confirmed on the transcript(s).
  • Not providing a third-party evaluation agency, which includes their submission of a Credential Equivalency/Authentication Report and a Course-by-Course Analysis directly to the College.
  • Lack of additional documents needed from applicant or educational institution(s).
  • Receipt of additional documents in a language other than English or French.

Are there ways for students to get involved with the College?

The College reserves space at our Educational Forums for social work and social service work students each year

The objectives of the Forums are to:

  • Educate.
  • Provide a tangible benefit of registration.
  • Offer opportunities for members to network with colleagues and make new contacts.
  • Increase the College’s visibility with, and connection to, its membership.

To find out where the next Educational Forums will be, follow the College on social media.

There are opportunities for you to get involved, including standing for election to the OCSWSSW Council. The Council is the 21-member board of directors that sets the direction for the College. Council also has several statutory and non-statutory committees which are involved in the governance of the College. As a College member, you will also be asked at times to provide feedback regarding new initiatives and issues that fall within the College mandate. To learn more about the College Council, click here.

Does the College give presentations to students?

College staff visits social work and social service work programs throughout the year to share important information about how to become a member of the College, the benefits and value of registration, and your obligations once you become a member. Speak to your instructor, who can contact us to arrange an in-person or remote presentation, or click here for more information.

Internationally Educated Applicants

Can I apply to become registered if my social work degree is from a university in the U.S.?

If you obtained your degree in social work from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), you will likely meet the academic requirements for a general certificate of registration for social work.

Visit the CSWE website to find out if your social work program is accredited.

If your social work degree is not accredited by CSWE, please go to Graduates of Non-Accredited Canadian and American Social Work Programs.

Can I apply to become registered if my social work degree is from a university outside of Canada and the U.S.?

If you have not already had your academic credentials evaluated by The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), please do so. You will likely meet the academic requirements to be issued a general certificate of registration for social work if the CASW determines that you have the minimum equivalent of a bachelor of social work obtained from a CASWE-accredited social work program. The CASW website provides the information you need to start the credential evaluation process of your international social work degree.

If the CASW evaluation concludes that your academic credentials don’t meet the minimum requirements, please visit Graduates of Non-Accredited Social Work Programs for more information.

Are there any steps in the registration process that can be started outside of Canada?

Yes. If you have been educated outside Canada and the U.S. but not in social work:

  • Have your academic institution send your official transcript(s) to a provincially mandated or provincially recognized third-party evaluation agency such as World Education Services (WES) or the International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS) to be evaluated.
  • Have your official documents translated into either English or French prior to sending them to an evaluating agency.
  • Request that the third-party evaluation agency send a Credential Equivalency/Authentication Report and a Course-by-Course Analysis or Specialized Report directly to the College for every degree you obtained.
  • Arrange for the evaluation agency to receive your documents directly from your institution.

The evaluation completed by the third-party evaluation agency will let you and the College know if you meet the academic qualification (i.e., do you have the minimum of a university-level bachelor’s degree, based on the norm of a four-year first-degree program [or a three-year bachelor’s degree from Quebec], with a minimum of 40 per cent course credits in liberal arts, humanities and social sciences).

If you have been educated in social work outside Canada and the U.S., please refer to the question immediately above.

Why do I need to have my non-social work international academic credentials evaluated?

The College requires an evaluation report that confirms the equivalency of your credentials to a Canadian credential. An evaluation report provided by a third-party evaluation agency such as WES or ICAS will indicate how it reviewed or authenticated the documents. The report also provides a Canadian equivalency summary and credential analysis such as year awarded, name of institution attended, a major of field of study, all the courses taken, their Canadian credits and grade equivalents.

Please note that this evaluation only confirms the equivalency of your credential to a Canadian credential (e.g., baccalaureate or master’s degree). The evaluation report does not confirm if your credential is substantially equivalent to a social work degree from a CASWE-accredited social work program, or to a social service work diploma offered in Ontario at a College of Applied Arts and Technology.

Do I have to be a Canadian citizen to work as a social worker/social service worker in Ontario?

You must be either a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, or authorized under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) to engage in the practice of social work or social service work in Ontario. If you are authorized under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to practise social work or social service work in Ontario, you must submit with your application form a copy of your valid work permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Following a review of your work permit, the Registrar may propose to issue a certificate of registration with terms, conditions and limitations (TCL) if s/he is satisfied that the other registration requirements have been met. The TCL may impose, among other things, an expiry date and other conditions on the certificate similar to those set out in your work permit. In these circumstances, the Registrar may issue a certificate of registration with TCL, provided that you have consented to the TCL.