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MSW Program

The MSW is a 45 credit, one-year program in which students build upon their first professional degree (BSW) and their subsequent practice experience.  If you have a BSW degree continue reading here  If you do not have a BSW degree, please consult the Qualifying Year.

There are three options in the MSW program:

  • The Non-Thesis Option, designed for students who are interested in developing skills in specialized practice and policy analysis
  • The Thesis Option, designed for students who have strong research interests
  • The MSW Joint Degree in Social Work and Law (If you do not have a BSW degree, you can only apply to the Joint Degree in Social Work and Law option following the successful completion of the Qualifying Year.


    Educational Philosophy

    The School of Social Work at McGill University prepares graduates for careers and leadership in the fields of social work and social welfare. In the MSW program, students develop an understanding of a broad range of theories which inform practice, policy and research. Envisioned as an opportunity to advance knowledge and skills, students are encouraged to immerse themselves in an area of scholarship and practice related to "Children and Families", "Health and Social Care", and "International and Community Development". Through the MSW program, students develop critical and innovative approaches to practice competence and to policy analysis such that they may contribute to both established social services and to new and less developed areas of service provision.

    The McGill School of Social Work is a member of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE).


    Educational Objectives

    The global objective of the MSW program is the provision of advanced professional training by means of integrated learning experiences. Specifically, the educational goals are to:

    • develop a deepened and advanced competence in practice and research.
    • embrace a capacity for critical understanding of social theory, social problems and emergent issues.
    • understand population groups in need, institutional structures, and policy initiatives and processes.

      Admission Requirements for Entry into MSW

      Candidates making an application to the MSW program are required to have successfully completed a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree. Prospective applicants who hold an undergraduate degree in a social work-related discipline are not eligible for direct admission into the MSW program. Such applicants are encouraged to apply to the Qualifying Year. Please go to this link now if you do not have a BSW degree.

      All applicants to the MSW program who hold a BSW degree must have:

      1. A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, minimum overall CGPA 3.2/4.0.
      2. The equivalent of at least 1 year of full-time voluntary (including field practicum) and/or paid social work/human service experience.  
        Wondering if you have the equivalent of at least ONE YEAR of full-time voluntary and/or paid social work/human service experience?  In order to meet this prerequisite, you must have:  

        • Completed the equivalent of full-time work for one year, being, 1700 hours:
          • Of “hands-on” experience
          • Involving direct contact with clients/client groups
          • In an interactive, supportive role, paid or volunteer
          • And for which your supervisor or service delivery coordinator can describe your demonstrated ability for the field of social work in a letter of reference
          •  It is preferable that:
            • Your experience has been accumulated in a public social service agency, community organization, school or hospital, rehabilitation or residential placement setting
            • And that at least one of your human-service experiences spanned at least 4 consecutive months

         3.   One 3-credit undergraduate Statistics course, completed within the last 5 years. Your prerequisite Statistics course covers:

        • Variables, distributions, and scales
        • Summary statistics
        • Means, standard deviations, cross-tabs, and correlations
        • Hypothesis testing using bivariate tests of significance
        • Confidence intervals
        • Bivariate tests of association: t-test, analysis of variance, chi-square
        • Graph data
        4.   One 3-credit undergraduate Research Methods course in social work and/or the social sciences, completed within the last 5 years.

      Relevant Social Sciences disciplines are: Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Political Science, and Anthropology.  What counts as a RESEARCH METHODS course? This prerequisite undergraduate course must prepare you to:

      • Understand how to read empirical studies
      • And interpret their results

      It is preferable that your course covers:

      • Identifying a research question
      • Reviewing relevant empirical and theoretical literatures
      • Determining the purpose (exploratory, descriptive, explanatory/causal?)
      • Understanding and deciding on approach (quantitative or qualitative?)
      • Ensuring Ethics
      • Deciding upon measurement
      • Selecting a research design (experimental, quasi-experimental, non-experimental? surveys? ethnography, grounded theory, case study, narrative?)
      • Sampling
      • Deciding upon data collection
      • Connecting research design to analysis and recommendations

      Note:  The prerequisite courses in Research Methods and Statistics must contain readings & clear methods of evaluation (exams, tests, quizzes, assignments); they cannot be fulfilled in the form of a tutorial or reading course.

      Please also note: A grade less than B (minimum 70%) in Research Methods will lessen the applicant's probability of admission

      * Applicants to graduate studies at McGill University must demonstrate an adequate level of proficiency in English prior to admission, regardless of citizenship status or country of origin. Normally, applicants meeting any one of the following conditions are NOT required to submit proof of proficiency in English:

          • Mother tongue (language first learned and still used on a daily basis) is English.
          • Has obtained (or is about to obtain) an undergraduate or graduate degree from a recognized foreign institution where English is the language of instruction.
          • Has obtained (or is about to obtain) an undergraduate or graduate degree from a recognized institution in Canada or the United States of America (anglophone or francophone).
          • Has lived and attended school, or been employed, for at least four consecutive years, in a country where English is the acknowledged primary language.

      Applicants who DO NOT meet any of the above-listed conditions must demonstrate proficiency in English using one of the following options:

          • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – International applicants must achieve a minimum score of 96* on the internet-based test. (* each individual component of reading, writing, listening, and speaking must have a minimum score of 24).
          • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) –International applicants must achieve a minimum overall band score of 8.0**. (** each individual component of reading, writing, listening, and speaking must have a minimum score of 7.5).
          • MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery): a mark of 85% or higher.
          • University of Cambridge ESOL Certificate in Advanced English (CAE): a grade of "B" (Good) or higher.
          • University of Cambridge ESOL Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): a grade of "C" (Pass) or higher.
          • Edexcel London Test of English - Level 5 - with an overall grade of at least "Pass".
          • McGill Certificate of Proficiency in English or McGill Certificate of Proficiency - English for Professional Communication: Certificate of Proficiency awarded. In each case, applicants must ensure that official test results are sent to McGill directly by the testing service. Applications cannot be considered if test results are not available.

        Application Procedure for MSW

        All applicants are required to complete the GPS online application which includes selection of program stream, identification of 3 referees [2 academic and 1 professional/work/field supervisor], and instructions to upload all supporting documents including:

        Please note that admission to the School of Social Work is only available for the Fall term. The University will not refund application fees for errors in selecting the wrong term. 

        Please note that the deadline for submitting all application materials and supporting documents is January 15.

        To apply go to: http://www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply/prepare/checklist.

        Applications for the 2015-2016 academic year will be available as of late August 2014.


        Contact for MSW Applicants

        graduate [dot] socialwork [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Lillian Iannone)
        Administrative & Student Affairs Coordinator/Application Advising
        Tel: 514-398-2679

        julia [dot] krane [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Dr. Julia Krane)
        Graduate Program Director
        Tel: 514-398-7063

        marilyn [dot] rowell [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Marilyn Rowell)
        Field Coordinator, MSW
        Tel: 514-398-7057

        david [dot] rothwell [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Dr. David Rothwell)
        Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards Coordinator
        Tel: 514-398-7058
        List of Fellowships


        Curriculum & Requirements

        The MSW is a second cycle of professional study in which students build upon their knowledge acquired from their first professional degree (BSW) or their Qualifying Year of Study and their subsequent practice experiences. Our program is designed to immerse students in one of the following chosen streams:

        Students are assigned an advisor whose primary responsiibilty include approval of course selection and students' Independent Study Projects or Theses.

        MSW (Non-Thesis Option)

        The non-thesis MSW option is designed for students who want to develop an advanced intellectual understanding and a specialized set of practice skills in one of the streams identified above. The non-thesis MSW option is comprised of 45 credits that consist of the following: 

        Required Courses (6 credits)

            • Research Methods 1, Qualitative (SWRK 653)
            • Research Methods 2, Quantitative (SWRK 643)

        Complementary Courses (18 credits)

            • Courses vary by stream (see specific stream below)

        Fieldwork (12 credits)

            • Fieldwork Practicum 1, (SWRK 650) [3 credits]
            • Fieldwork Practicum 2, (SWRK 651) [3 credits]
            • Fieldwork Practicum 3, (SWRK 660) [6 credits]

        International Students

        All international students must ensure they have  the necessary Immigration Documents required for their  studies in Canada. Given the field placement requirements in our BSW, QY, non-thesis MSW, and MSc(A) programs all social work students enrolled in those programs must obtain a Co-Op/Internship Work Permit alongside their student visa.  Information about what is required and how to apply can be found at http://www.mcgill.ca/internationalstudents/pre-arrival/immigration-documents

        Independent Study Project (ISP) (9 credits)

        Important to Note:

        • A typical full-time load, taken over 3 terms of study, consists of 15 credits per term. These credits can be completed in the following sequences: Fall/Winter/Summer or Fall/Winter/Fall.
        • The program taken on a full-time   basis must be completed within 3 years of initial registration.  Taken on a part-time basis, the program must be completed within 5 years of initial registration.

        MSW (Thesis Option)

        The thesis option is designed for students who want to develop an advanced intellectual understanding and a specialized set of research skills in one of the streams identified above. The structure of the thesis option differs from the non-thesis option but is still comprised of 45 credits: 

        Required Courses (6 credits)

            • Research Methods 1, Qualitative (SWRK 653)
            • Research Methods 2, Quantitative (SWRK 643)

        Complementary Courses (12 credits)

            • Courses vary by stream (see specific stream below)

        Thesis (27 credits)

            • Thesis Research 1, (SWRK 698) [12 credits]
            • Thesis Research 2, (SWRK 699) [15 credits]

        Important to Note:

        • A typical full-time load, taken over 3 terms of study, consists of 15 credits per term. These credits can be completed in the following sequences: Fall/Winter/Summer or Fall/Winter/Fall.
        • The program taken on a full-time   basis must be completed within 3 years of initial registration.  Taken on a part-time basis, the program must be completed within 5 years of initial registration.

        All students completing the MSW Thesis Option must consult and comply with the Thesis Guidelines set out by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies available at http://www.mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/guidelines.

        All students conducting research involving human subjects must meet the requirements set out in the McGill Policy on the Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Human Subjects.

        Streams:

        Children & Families Stream

        The McGill School of Social Work has a long tradition of teaching in the area of "Children & Families", a specialization urgently needed for community, health and mental health practice. Today’s graduates are required to have a broad understanding of family life, mental health disorders and clinical capacity to offer effective services for families increasingly presenting with an array of complex social, psychological, physical and mental health problems. This area of study aims to develop students’ child and family clinical knowledge and practice skills to serve our increasingly diverse family populations within Québec and Canada. This area of study incorporates a broad-based theoretical and clinical perspective informed by research best practice methods. It includes curriculum on advanced methods of child and family assessment and treatment, couple counselling, child and youth mental health, child welfare, violence against women and youth justice. Practicing in this field involves working with children and their parents; couples and family systems including extended family and larger protective, social and legal healthcare networks that influence children and their families. Guiding principles include an understanding of the heterogeneity and diversity of the post-modern family integrating the lens of gender, race, poverty, social class and multiculturalism into child and family practice with attention to the intersection of social service, health and legal care structures. The goal of this area of study is to introduce the concepts and skills related to a developmental-systemic understanding of children and their families with a focus on culturally-informed models of assessment and treatment of child and family functioning and development. It is ideal for students considering careers in child and family protective services, child and adult psychiatry, including hospital based in-patient and out-patient services and specialized community services for children and their families. It is also ideal for students from a multi-disciplinary background including social work, counseling psychology, clinical psychology, nursing, and other mental health disciplines.

        Students in "Children & Families" are expected to take Understanding and Assessing Families (SWRK 622), as the core complementary theory course. Students in this stream will also be given priority to register for the following complementary courses:

            • Youth Justice in Canada, (SWRK 602)
            • Reclaiming Child Welfare, (SWRK 606)
            • Family Treatment, (SWRK 610)
            • Couple Counselling, (SWRK 623)
            • Violence Against Women, (SWRK 628)
            • Seminar on Mental Health, (SWRK 657)

        Health & Social Care Stream

        Changing population demographics, shifts from institutionalization to community-based care, and restructuring of health care systems create a demanding context for social work. This changing context of care requires a detailed understanding of care systems and their impact on populations in need of health and social services. The "Health & Social Care" stream is designed to better prepare students for social work in fields such as gerontology, health, disability, and mental health by exploring and examining the theoretical, historical and practical contexts of care, contemporary tensions and debates in the field, and by promoting the development of specialized skills for advanced practice across varying adult care settings. This area of interest considers health and social care practices on national, provincial, federal and international levels. Courses are organized around social care, ageing, mental health, disability, caregiving, and loss and bereavement. Drawing on relevant theory, research and policy, the courses in this area of interest situate contemporary issues within the historical context of social welfare; explore conceptual challenges embedded in concepts such as 'dependency' and 'disability'; address planning and practice for populations across the life course, and in late life; explore therapeutic practice in mental health settings; outline social work with persons with disabilities; focus on illness and palliative care, as well as articulate in-depth explorations of cross-cutting concerns of caregiving, loss and bereavement, ethics, and resilience. This area of interest is ideal for students considering careers in social work practice in community and institutional settings with older people, children and adults with disabilities, and mental health issues. Students in this area are likely to be interested in hospital social work, home care, various group-home settings for adults, palliative care, community organizations with a clinical focus, as well as areas of health or social care policy. The Health & Social Care stream is suitable for students with undergraduate degrees in social work, as well as psychology, health-related domains, women's studies, health policy or disability studies.

        Students in "Health & Social Care" are expected to take Understanding Social Care (SWRK 609), as the core complementary theory course. Students in this stream will also be given priority to register for the following complementary courses:

            • Seminar on Aging, (SWRK 655)
            • Living with Illness, Loss and Bereavement, (SWRK 668)
            • Disability and Rehabilitation, (SWRK 669)
            • Seminar on Caregiving, (SWRK 670)

        International & Community Development Stream

        Over the past several decades, interest and opportunities in International & Community Development within social work have burgeoned. To this end, this area of study has been developed to serve our increasingly diverse populations within Québec and Canada as well as our progressively more interconnected world. This area of study incorporates a global perspective for local, national, and international practice. It includes curriculum on social welfare, international and community development, cross-cultural knowledge and understanding, comparative social policy, global and local peace-building initiatives, as well as advocacy and practice focused on immigrant, refugee and war-affected populations. Practicing in this field involves working with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities to influence laws, legislation and policies. Guiding principles are human rights, global justice and diversity. The goal of this area of study is to introduce concepts and skills relating to internationally-related domestic practice and advocacy, professional exchange, community and international practice, and community and international policy development. This stream is ideal for students considering careers in international and community development, practice work with immigrants, refugees and war-affected populations, advocacy work on global policy issues, and those aiming to broaden their domestic practice competence through understanding the international dimensions of community and social issues. It is also ideal for students with undergraduate degrees in social work and international development studies.

        Students in "International & Community Development" are expected to take International & Community Development (SWRK 626) as the core complementary course. Students in this stream will also be given priority to register for the following complementary courses:

            • International Social Work, (SWRK 532)
            • Migration & Social Work (SWRK 620)
            • Seminar on Trauma & Resilience (SWRK 621)
            • Community Organization, (SWRK 624)
            • Social Policy & Analysis, (SWRK 641)

        Courses Available to Students Across all Streams

            • Critical Thought & Ethics, (SWRK 525)
            • Program Evaluation, (SWRK 633)
            • Advanced Clinical Seminar: Use of Self, (SWRK 635)

        MSW with Integrated Bachelor of Civil Law / Bachelor of Laws (BCL/LLB)

        The School of Social Work and the Faculty of Law offer a Master of Social Work (MSW) with integrated Bachelor of Civil Law/Bachelor of Laws (BCL/LLB) designed to transcend academic boundaries in social justice issues. Lawyers and social workers often operate in the same fields, whether in public policy, child protection, family law, poverty law, or domestic violence situations, yet each profession has been constrained by internal limitations. This joint program is animated by the conviction that studying in these two professions simultaneously will offer students an enriched perspective. Joint degree students graduate with a valuable blend of theoretical understanding, legal training, and interpersonal skills that will prepare them for, among other career options, practice or policy work.

        Concretely, taking the joint program allows students to obtain three degrees with a reduced overall number of credits. The joint MSW (non-thesis option)/Law program requires students to complete 132 credits (45 credits in MSW, 87 credits in Law). Students should take three and a half to four years to complete the MSW/B.C.L./LL.B. program. It is possible, however, to complete the program in three years, by doing work for credit over the summer and by carrying heavier course loads throughout the program. The joint program leads to conferral of the B.C.L./LL.B. law degrees and the master's degree in social work.

        Admission to the joint MSW/Law degree programs

        Students intending to undertake this joint program proceed by submitting separate applications to the School of Social Work and to the Faculty of Law. It is necessary to fulfill the respective admissions requirements for the MSW and the integrated BCL/LLB. For example, students must have the requisite academic background in social work for the MSW and they must be passively bilingual as required by the law program.

        In  their personal statements, candidates should indicate their reasons for wanting to pursue this joint program.

        Students considering undertaking the joint program are helpfully separated into two groups.

        Group 1

        This group consists of students who have a BSW, who are currently enrolled in a BSW program, or who are enrolled in the Qualifying Year for entry into the MSW program. Group 1 students should apply to the MSW and the BCL/LLB programs during the academic year immediately preceding their intended start date in the joint program.

        Group 2

        This group consists of students who do not have the academic background required for the MSW (see Admission Requirements for Entry into MSW). Students in this group follow a slightly different path. The key difference is that they need to take the Qualifying Year in Social Work to be eligible for the MSW program. They are advised to apply, during the academic year immediately preceding their intended start date, to the School of Social Work for the Qualifying Year and to the Faculty of Law for the BCL/LLB. If admitted to both, they should enroll in the Qualifying Year in Social Work and seek a one-year deferral of their admission to the law program. During the Qualifying Year, they should apply to the MSW. If the MSW admission requirements are met, they would then, in the following academic year, start the joint program. Students in Group 2 are not in the joint program until they are admitted into the MSW program. Alternatively, students may also choose to apply to law during the Qualifying Year in Social Work.

        Program Sequence

        Students enrolled in the joint program typically begin by completing the obligatory first year of the law program. In subsequent academic terms, they take a combination of law and social work credits.

        Students in the joint program fulfill the following requirements:

        Required Courses: 78 credits (30 credits Social Work + 48* credits Law). * See a detailed description of the B.C.L./LL.B. requirements.

        Complementary Courses: 27 credits (12 credits from the Faculty of Law and 15 credits in Social Work)

        Electives: 27 credits chosen from Faculty of Law courses

        Note: Students in the joint program fulfill the 45-credit MSW Program with the following requirements:

        Required Courses: Social Work (30 credits)

        SWRK 650 Field Work Practicum 1 (3 credits)
        SWRK 651 Field Work Practicum 2 (3 credits)
        SWRK 660 Field Work Practicum 3 (6 credits)
        SWRK 691 Social Work/Law Independent Study Project (12 credits)
        SWRK 653 Research Methods 1 (3 credits)
        SWRK 643 Research Methods 2 (3 credits)

        Complementary Courses: Social Work (15 credits)

        15 credits of SWRK 500 or 600 level courses. Up to 6 graduate-level credits in total may be taken outside of the School of Social Work with academic advisor approval.

        TOTAL MSW Credits: 45

        For more information regarding admission to the MSW or other social work aspects of the joint program, contact the joint program liaison in the School of Social Work, david [dot] rothwell [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Professor David Rothwell).

        For more information regarding admission to the Faculty of Law or other law aspects of the joint program, contact the joint program liaison in the Faculty of Law, alana [dot] klein [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Professor Alana Klein).


        Special Student Status

        The School of Social Work is NOT accepting Special Student applications.


        Grading Policy

        Graduate level students (MSW & PhD) are required to obtain a grade of 65% (B-) or better in all of their courses. Students who have failed one course required by their department while registered as a graduate student may automatically write one supplemental examination if the departmental policy permits, or retake that course or substitute an equivalent course. For the purposes of this policy, "required course" includes either a course required by the student's program of study, or a course that has been designated by the department for an individual student's program of study. A student with any further failures in that course, including the supplemental, or a failure in any other required course, will be required to withdraw from their program of study. This policy does not pertain to the failure of comprehensive examinations, doctoral oral defenses, or thesis failures. MSW students in the thesis option can also be required to withdraw from the program of study for documented lack of performance in research.


        Tuition Fees

        Information on fees can be obtained from the Student Accounts website.


        Faculty Research Interests

        See individual faculty pages by clicking here.


        Course Descriptions

        The course descriptions and class schedule are available on the Web. Please note that courses may be rescheduled, or new courses added, from time to time; check online Class Schedule for the most up-to-date information. The schedule of courses to be offered in the Summer will be available in January.


        Downloadable Forms

         

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