Ontario College Diploma | 4 semesters | Barrydowne Campus

Welcome to Cambrian College's Developmental Services Worker (DSW) program. With a focus on supporting individuals with various disabilities, our program prepares students for a rewarding career in this field. We offer a comprehensive curriculum and unique opportunities that set us apart from other institutions.

Students will acquire the following skills from this program:

  • Communication skills using alternate modes of communication: sign language, braille, and a picture exchange communication system
  • Development of professional competencies
  • Development of formal and informal person and student centered plans
  • Development of positive behaviour supports and instructional strategies
  • Understanding and supporting individuals across the diverse spectrum of disabilities
  • Advocacy for independence, self-determination, inclusion, belonging, and citizenship
  • Development of competencies to work collaboratively with inter-professional teams, families, and community professionals
  • Knowledge of medications, medication administration, and basic nursing skills
  • Facilitation of employment opportunities and entrepreneurship

Program Highlights


We understand that every student's learning journey is unique. Our DSW program offers flexibility in learning options. Students can choose between attending scheduled in-person classes, participating in virtual classes in real-time, or watching recorded video lectures at their convenience. Our engaging on-campus learning activities are perfect for those who prefer in-person and hands-on learning. Our use of Cambrian’s Learning Management System and Zoom technology enhances flexibility by allowing students to complete course presentations, evaluations, tests, assignments, and projects online.


Field placement is a fundamental component of our DSW program, providing students hands-on experience right from the first semester. In their initial placement, students have a unique opportunity to develop and deliver activity plans for individuals supported by local agencies or school boards. This experience offers students a unique opportunity to gain firsthand experience and bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.  In the second semester, students embark on their first onsite/mentored field placement, where they gain practical experience and contribute to the support of individuals with disabilities.  Continuing in the third and fourth semesters, students participate in additional field placements that deepen their practical skills and broaden their exposure to different aspects of the developmental services field. These placements provide valuable opportunities for students to work directly with individuals supported by local agencies or school boards, honing their abilities and building their professional network.

Required documentation for Placement includes:

  • Criminal Records Check - Vulnerable Sector Screening
  • Health documentation (up-to-date immunization, Two-Step TB test, freedom for communicable diseases
  • Standard First Aid and CPR - Level C
  • Industry certifications
  • Co-op permits for placement in semesters two, three, and four for international students

Please Note:

  • Students will be responsible for any expenses incurred related to placement, such as consultations with Placement Pass partners, co-op permits for non-permanent residents, medical fees for services, transportation, meals, and accommodations.
  • Agencies and schools may require students to have additional medical and non-medical documentation prior to accepting placements. 
  • Students will be responsible for the provision of required documentation for placement in consultation with the Placement Pass partner.


  • A valid G license is recommended for employment in the Developmental Services Sector. 

Unique to Cambrian

At Cambrian College, we take pride in offering unique opportunities that distinguish our DSW program. We provide a comprehensive range of flexible learning options, allowing students to tailor their education to their needs. Our program prepares students for work in both community and classroom settings, ensuring they are well-rounded professionals in the field.

  • We are hyflex. Students decide how they wish to receive their education. (on-campus, via virtual classrooms or completely asynchronously).  Perfect for those studying from outside of the Sudbury area!
  • Field Placement experience in all 4 semesters! 
  • We offer a fast-track option for individuals with community experience, enabling them to expedite their diploma completion and save valuable time. This pathway recognizes the skills and knowledge gained through prior community involvement and provides an efficient route to achieving a diploma in developmental services.
  • For those interested in pursuing a position in education, we offer a micro-credential in learning disabilities studies. This specialized program provides additional recognition and knowledge in the field of learning disabilities, equipping students with the skills to support individuals with diverse learning needs in educational settings.  This micro-credential can also lead to a fast track of the Learning Disabilities Graduation Certificate Program.
  • Two diplomas in three years!  Our DSW program is mapped to Cambrian's Early Childhood Education program, Social Services Worker program, Community and Justice Services program, and Child and Youth Practitioner program. This mapping allows students to pursue two diplomas in three years, opening up broader career prospects and enhancing their skill set.

If you're looking for a Developmental Services Worker program that offers field placement opportunities from the very beginning, flexibility, and unique features such as program mapping, fast-tracking, and micro-credential options, Cambrian College is a perfect choice. Take the first step towards a rewarding career by joining our exceptional program.  Apply today!

Quick Links

How to Apply

Community Services

Admission Requirements

For graduates of the new curriculum (OSS): Ontario Secondary School Diploma (30 credits) or equivalent or mature student status, including:

  • Any grade 12 English (C) or (U)


  • Computer competency in relevant software
  • Any grade 11 mathematics (C), (U) or (M)
  • Any grade 11 biology (C) or (U) or grade 12 biology (U)

Missing an Admission Requirement?  We can help! APPLY NOW!
Visit https://www.cambriancollege.ca/upgrading/ for more information about our FREE Academic Upgrading Program.1

Additional Requirements

  • Ability to support individuals living life with disabilities in all aspects of daily living such as lifting and transfers.


1 Please note Academic Upgrading is only available for domestic students.

Program Delivery


This program will be delivered in the following terms:

Winter Term Start

  1. SEMESTER 1 Winter 2024
  2. SEMESTER 2 Spring 2024
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2024
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2025


This program will be delivered in the following terms:

Fall Term Start

  1. SEMESTER 1 Fall 2024
  2. SEMESTER 2 Winter 2025
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2025
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2026

Winter Term Start

  1. SEMESTER 1 Winter 2025
  2. SEMESTER 2 Spring 2025
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2025
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2026

For specific term start/end dates and other key dates/deadlines, please see the Academic Schedule on our website.

Program of Study for 2024-25 Academic Year 

Plan of Study Grid
Semester 1Credits
DSW 1026 Field Seminar 2
DSW 1027 Self Care Skills 2
DSW 1117 Disabilities Strategies I 3
DSW 1125 Understanding Disabilities 2
PSY 1135 Issues in Developmental Psychology 3
HSC 1136 Basic Nursing Skills 3
ENG 1002 College Communications 3
One General Education course. 1 3
Semester 2
DSW 1022 Field Work IIA 4
DSW 1210 Community Employability Skills 3
DSW 1221 Person Centered Planning and Advocacy 3
DSW 1222 Positive Behaviour Supports 4
HSC 1236 Basic Nursing Skills II 3
ENG 1242 Speaking/Writing Comm. Services I 3
One General Education course. 1 3
Semester 3
DSW 1021 Pharmacology for Developmental Services Worker 2
DSW 1023 Field Work IIB 4
DSW 1217 Disabilities Strategies II 3
DSW 1225 Crisis Management and Prevention 3
DSW 1230 Autism Spectrum Disorders 3
DSW 2310 Dual Diagnosis Assessment and Treatment 3
DSW 2317 Disability and Communication Systems 3
One General Education course. 1 3
Semester 4
DSW 1028 Fieldwork III 14
 Total Credits82

For more information regarding General Education courses, click here.


Tuition and Ancillary Fees

Please see our fees page for the breakdown of tuition and mandatory ancillary fees by program and semester for both domestic and international students.

Books & Supplies

The cost of books and supplies is approximately $2,000 per year for the Program. This is the best information available at the time of publishing to the website and is subject to change. 

Graduate Options

Employment Opportunities

Graduates of the Developmental Services Worker Program make a difference in the lives of individuals living life with physical disabilities, developmental and intellectual disabilities, dual diagnosis, and their families. As a skilled and caring Developmental Services Professional, you can support individuals to live, work, play, and participate in their communities as valued citizens. As a graduate of the Developmental Services Worker Program, you can also make a difference in a variety of classrooms. You will acquire the knowledge and skills to work effectively as a support staff in elementary and secondary school classrooms, to assist teachers and other classroom staff in implementing academic studies and education plans. Your understanding of a diverse spectrum of disabilities, professional competencies, communication skills, person and student centered planning, positive behaviour supports, instructional strategies, and your passion to support others will empower you to build a rewarding career.

Graduates of the Developmental Services Worker Program support children and adults living life with disabilities. This can lead to a range of positions, including:

  • Developmental Services Professional / Direct Support Professional
  • Educational Assistants
  • Supported Employment Professional
  • Independent Contracting Professional
  • Respite Professional
  • Community Participation / Day Support Professional

Furthering Your Studies

Graduates of this program can further increase their skills and expand their options for employment by enrolling in:

College/University Degree Opportunities

Graduates from this program may continue their studies at college/university and may receive credit for their prior College education.

Refer to College/University Agreements for further information.

Please note: Cambrian College strives to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website. Please note that the academic curriculum is continually reviewed and revised to ensure that Cambrian's programs and courses remain relevant. The College reserves the right to cancel or make changes to any course or program, fee, procedure, or campus location at any time.