Considering completing an online social work degree program in Canada?

It’s never been a better time! However, due to work or life commitments, you might be searching for an online social work program in Canada so that you can work towards your education and your dreams.

This article will answer the most frequently asked questions about online social work programs in Canada and list Canadian universities that have online BSW and MSW degree programs. 

Let’s dive in. 

Can I become a social worker online in Canada?

Yes, you can work towards becoming a social worker online by getting a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree or a Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree from an accredited Canadian university that teaches the program virtually. However, one caveat to this though, is all social work programs require the completion of field placements before graduation. This means that unless you are able to secure a remote placement, you’ll be required to complete your field placement in-person and on-site. 

According to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (n.d.) students graduating from a BSW program must have at least 700 practicum hours for graduation. Whereas, students graduating from an MSW will need an additional 450 practicum hours when enrolled in the with-BSW stream or 900 hours to graduate from the non-BSW stream.

To learn more check out How to Become a Social Worker in Canada.

Can I get an MSW without a BSW in Canada?

Yes, you can get an MSW without a BSW in Canada. However, this program enrollment stream is institution-dependent as not all universities provide this option. And usually to be accepted into a non-BSW social work program the applicant must have completed another bachelor degree prior to acceptance into the program (Canadian Association of Social Workers, n.d.). In addition, to apply for a non-BSW stream, you will be required to apply through a separate application process than the with-BSW stream. 

Can I become a social worker by taking a diploma program online? 

As social work regulation varies province- to-province and territory-to-territory, to become registered as a social worker with a diploma is location specific. Currently, Alberta is the only province that recognizes a social work diploma as a means to become a Registered Social Worker (RSW) (Alberta College of Social Workers, n.d.). However, Ontario has a Registered Social Service Worker (RSSW) designation for those who completed a social service worker diploma (Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, n.d.). And Northwest Territories has a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) designation for individuals with a social work diploma (Government of the Northwest Territories, Health and Social Services, n.d.). In these provinces, the social work regulatory body identifies and conducts the accreditation process for institutions who provide diploma social work programs. Also, Nunavut and Yukon are non-regulated provinces where there’s no minimum requirement to become a social worker. (Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada, n.d.). All other provinces do not recognize social work diplomas for social work registration. 

Similar to BSW and MSW programs, whether a social work diploma program is delivered online is institution-specific as not all programs offer online options.

How long is a BSW degree in Canada? 

A BSW degree in Canada is usually a 4-year program accredited by the Canadian Association of School for Social Work Education (CASWE) (Canadian Association of Social Workers, n.d.). Although, there are some institutions who provide fast-track options where students can complete the program faster. 

How long is a MSW degree in Canada?

Students who go through the MSW program with a BSW usually complete the program in one-year full time. Or students who enroll in the MSW program through the non-BSW stream will typically take 2 years to complete. And depending on the institution, MSW programs are offered either through a course-based or thesis-based program route. In Canada, MSW programs are accredited by the CASWE (Canadian Association of Social Workers, n.d.). 

What are the application requirements for online social work degree programs in Canada? 

Every institution has their own application process and requirements. Institutions may require a detailed application, pre-requisite courses, an entry-essay, specific number of volunteer or public service hours, a one-to-one or group interview with program designates, professional references, and/or a specific grade point average to be accepted into the program. Also, due to the high-demand of applicants each year into social work programs, most universities are unable to accept all applicants who apply. Although, most institutions have a small waitlist just in case some applicants do not accept the institutions offer of acceptance.

Which universities offer online social work degree program in Canada?

There are a limited number institutions who offer online social work programs in Canada as most offer in-person and on-campus programs. However, there are some institutions who provide online BSW and MSW social work programs.

Below is a list of institutions who offer online social work programs in Canada:

Online BSW programs in Canada

Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia

University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba

University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta

University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia

Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, British Columbia

Online MSW programs in Canada

Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Wilfred Laurier University Waterloo in Ontario

University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario

University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario


Social work is an unbelievably rewarding career and it’s never been a better time to start working towards a social work degree. As someone who has done both in-person with my BSW and online with my MSW, I see the benefits and limitations to both program delivery options. However, being able to take my MSW degree online, while I worked full-time, was an amazing experience. So if you’re ready to move towards your dreams to become a social worker, why not take the next step and submit your applications for online social work programs in Canada.


Please be advised that this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional advice.


Alberta College of Social Workers. (n.d.) Apply to become a registered social worker. Retrieved from

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada, (n.d.).  Who we are. Retrieved by

Canadian Association of Social Workers (n.d.) Assessment of International Credentials – Questions and Answers. Retrieved from

Government of the Northwest Territories, Health and Social Services. (n.d). Social Work Licence. Retrieved from

Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. (n.d). FAQ: Registration Eligibility. Retrieved from

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