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Otago Polytechnic
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Bachelor of Social Services (Specialty)

This course is available


Level of Study

Bachelor's Degree


3 years

Next start date

Expected Feb 2024


Otago Polytechnic


This degree will give you the necessary skills to be a capable and confident social services professional working in New Zealand. At the end of your first year, you’ll choose your specialty, then complete placements during your second and third year to build your industry experience and contacts. You’ll graduate with a high-level of self-awareness, a thorough understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi principals and the communication skills to engage and support a diverse range of people.

About the programme

With specialties in Career Practice, Counselling or Health and Wellbeing Practice

Want to help people and their whanau improve their quality of life?

Our industry-relevant programme will prepare you to enter the social service sector as a counsellor, career practitioner, or to offer holistic services in the health and wellbeing sector such as mental health support.

You'll learn how to empower clients to overcome social and personal disadvantages, achieve their aspirations and realise their individual and community potential. And you’ll develop knowledge and awareness of the cultural diversity of Aotearoa, so you’re prepared to work with clients in a culturally-competent way that upholds the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

At the end of your first year, you'll choose your specialty - Career Practice, Counselling, or Health and Wellbeing Practice - and then complete placements during your second and third year to build your industry experience and contacts.

Graduating with a high-level of self-awareness and the communication skills to engage a diverse range of people, you’ll be able to provide professional practice within the community, demonstrate social responsibility and will meet the standards needed to be eligible for membership with the Professional Association for your chosen specialty.

Choosing a specialty

You can choose to study one of the following specialties within this programme and would graduate with that specialty attached to the qualification name e.g. Bachelor of Social Services (Career Practice):

Career Practice
Health and Wellbeing Practice.

Career Practice

Career opportunities include:

Government agencies
Youth organisations
Disability services
Liaison services
Human resources.

Entry criteria

You must submit references and a health declaration, declare any criminal convictions and give permission for a Police Check (to demonstrate good health and good character sufficient for safe and effective practice in social services).
If English is not your first language, you must provide:

New Zealand University Entrance OR

If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an Overall Academic IELTS 6.5 with no individual band score lower than 6.5 (achieved in one test completed in the last two years), OR

TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT): Score of 550 (with an essay score of 5 TWE)

TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT): Score of 60 (with a writing score of 18)

Cambridge English Qualifications: B2 First, or B2 First for schools, or C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill;

Pearson Test of English (Academic): PTE (Academic) score of 50 with no band score lower than 42

Language Certificate: C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill

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