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Qualifying Year

Qualifying Year of Study for Entry into the MSW Program (non-thesis)

The Qualifying Year of study for entry into the MSW Program (non-thesis) is designed for students who already have completed an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than Social Work and would like to pursue a graduate degree in Social Work (MSW).  The main objectives of this Qualifying Year are to provide students with foundation knowledge and skills pertinent to the practice of social work and to prepare them for entry into the MSW program.

Applicants admitted into the “Qualifying Year” for entry into the MSW are immersed, over two terms of full-time study only, in coursework and field placement. This full-time qualifying year of study is comprised of 15 credits per term in which coursework and field placement are integrated and run concurrently. No part-time option for study is available. Qualifying Year courses are not offered via distance or on-line education. All coursework must be completed at the McGill University downtown campus. Candidates who secure a B+ average and successfully complete their fieldwork will apply and be recommended for admission to the MSW (non-thesis option only).  Once admitted to the MSW, the MSW program can be completed on a full-time basis in one year or a part-time basis over up to five years. Applications into the Qualifying Year are accepted for Fall admission only.

Downloadable Forms

Admission Requirements for Qualifying Year

  1. CGPA:  Applicants demonstrating academic excellence and prior human services experience are considered for admission to the Qualifying Year of study in preparation for entry to the MSW (non-thesis) program. Applicant’s undergraduate record must meet a minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Undergraduate Degree:  Applicants are required to have completed a bachelor degree (DCS/DEC from CEGEP plus a minimum of a 90-credit, or three-year university degree; or, a high school diploma plus a minimum of a 120–credit or four-year university degree) prior to entry into the Qualifying Year.  Please note that transfer students are not eligible for application.
  3. Work Experience:  Applicants will have the equivalent of at least 1 year of full-time voluntary 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
    4) Prerequisites:  Applicants will have completed by August 15th the below noted prerequisite courses at the university level. Please note that applicants are required to append a course syllabus for the “Research Methods”, “Statistics”, and “Human Development Across the Lifespan” courses when uploading the QY Prerequisite Course Form. All of the below noted prerequisite courses:
    • Are at an undergraduate level of study & worth 3 credits
    • Contain readings & clear methods of evaluation (exams, tests, quizzes, assignments)
    • Are not equivalent to a tutorial or reading course

a)   Research Methods: one 3-credit undergraduate research methods course, taken within the last 5 years, from one of the following Social Sciences disciplines: 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 Research Methods 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: A grade less than B (minimum 70%) in Research Methods will lessen the applicant's probability of admission

 b)  Statistics: one 3-credit undergraduate statistics course, taken 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

 c)   Human Development Across the Lifespan: one 3-credit undergraduate course in human development across the life span. In order to meet this prerequisite, your prerequisite course must:

  • Cover the full span of life from pregnancy/birth to death; courses that concentrate on one phase of development (i.e., child or adolescent or adult development) are not accepted
  • Focus on normative human development; courses that emphasize psychopathology are not accepted

It is preferable that your course covers:

  • Theories of human development derived from some of the key scholars (Freud, Piaget, Bowlby, Erickson, Bandura, Kohlberg, Bronfrenbrenner)
  • An understanding of the various areas of development and their influence on one another: physical, affective, social, moral, and cognitive
  • The ways in which gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, culture etc. may shape one’s development

Ideally, you should be able to identify developmental risk factors and developmental protective factors and apply the theoretical models to real life situations as a result of having taken this course.

 d)  three 3-credit (9 credits total) social science courses

These courses need not have been completed in the last 5 years

* Please note the social science disciplines are:  Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Political Science, and Anthropology. A grade less than B (minimum 70%) in Research Methods will lessen the applicant's probability of admission.  Applicants are expected to have completed the above noted prerequisites within the last 5 years.

For further information on Qualifying Year prerequisites , please click here.

Applicants to the Q-Year must also 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.
  • the 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.

N.B. As the Qualifying Year is a non-degree program, students are not eligible for external fellowships.

Application Procedure for Qualifying Year

Please note that the School of Social Work admits new students in the Fall term only. The University will not refund application fees for errors in selecting the wrong term.

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], and instructions to upload all supporting documents including:

Upload Copy of ALL university level transcripts

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

To apply, click here.  

    Qualifying Year Courses

    Fall Term:

    • Public Social Services in Canada (SWRK 221)
    • Field Practice 1 (SWRK 322)
    • Social Work Skills Laboratory (SWRK 350)
    • Introduction to Practice (SWRK 353)
    • Foundations in Social Policy in Canada (SWRK 404)

    Winter Term:

    • Field Practice 2 (SWRK 323)
    • Anti-Oppression Social Work Practice (SWRK 325)
    • Practice with Individuals and Families 2 (SWRK 326)
    • Approaches to Community/Group Practice (SWRK 405)
    • Critical Though & Ethic in Social Work (SWRK 525)

    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 here


    Students applying to the Qualifying Year are asked to identify the stream of study that will be pursued when entering into the MSW.  Below please find descriptions of each stream with a link to the courses offered per stream.

    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.

    Please consult the MSW website for the courses associated with this stream.

     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.

    Please consult the MSW website  for the courses associated with this stream.

    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.

    Please consult the MSW website for the courses associated with this stream.

    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.

    Contacts for Qualifying Year Applicants

    QY [dot] socialwork [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Program & Admission Information)

    graduate [dot] socialwork [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Application Information)

    Downloadable Forms