Make a difference to those who live with disabilities. 

Embark on a rewarding career and make a difference in the lives of children and adults who live with physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities or dual diagnoses by learning how to support their emotional, mental, physical, and social needs. 
You’ll gain a solid foundation of the stages of human development and the community supports available to those living with a disability. You’ll learn alternate modes of communication, including sign language, braille, and a picture exchange communication system. Using a person-centred approach and positive reinforcement to build relationships, you’ll help individuals with disabilities and their families live safe, respectful lives of quality and inclusion. 

Program highlights

  • Choose to take this program on campus or virtually by joining classes online in real-time 
  • Community expert guest speakers 
  • Placements in semesters 2, 3, and 4 – the largest number of block placements of any Ontario college 
  • Fast-track option if you have previous experience in the field 


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.

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.

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)

Additional admissions requirements

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


  • 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)

Program delivery


Fall term start

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

Winter term start

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

Specific program pathways

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

College or university degree opportunities  

If you are a graduate of this program, you may continue your studies at a college or university and you may receive credit(s) for your prior college education. Refer to Cambrian's college and university agreement details for further information. 

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

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.