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York's School of Social Work is recognized as being one of the most progressive and socially responsive social work programs in Canada. The School is centred around human rights, social justice and anti-oppression and is committed to teaching from a critical approach which recognizes the ways that individual problems are shaped by social structures that reflect deeply inequitable power relations in society.

The School offers a full–time and part–time Advanced Standing Master of Social Work degree, and a Two–Year Master of Social Work program designed for students who do not have a Bachelor of Social Work, but who have a four-year honours undergraduate degree in a related field.

Both MSW programs involve a combination of coursework, a practicum, and a practice–based research paper. Students receive a thorough foundation needed to work successfully with diverse populations in a wide variety of social work settings. The program prepares students for careers in child welfare, international social work, gerontology, diversity and anti–oppression, family support services, direct practice, community development, and/or social policy and planning etc. The program also prepares students for further study at the doctoral level.

York's MSW program places diversity of experience (due to race, class, ability, sexual orientation, age, gender identity and expression, and religious/spiritual affiliation) as central to understanding how oppression, marginalization and assistance are constructed for persons in need of social work services. The program’s key objectives are to:

  • Encourage students to critically reflect on their personal and professional practice;
  • Invite students to consider that social work knowledge and practice are socially constructed;
  • Prepare students for social work practice that is sensitive to issues of difference, including a complex understanding of the dynamics of unjust power relations in practice contexts; and
  • Create opportunities for students to experience applied research.

Advanced Standing Program Structure

Advanced Standing MSW program—three (3) terms
Students are required to take their core courses as scheduled.

Year 1Term 1–FallTerm 2–WinterTerm 3–Summer
GS/SOWK 5150 3.0 Critical Perspectives in Social WorkGS/SOWK 5350 6.0: Advanced Practicum (450 hours) (Winter through to Summer)Electives Available
GS/SOWK 5250 3.0: Graduate Research Seminar (GRS)GS/SOWK 5450 3.0: Practice-based Research Paper Seminar (PRS)
GS/SOWK 5550 3.0: Indigenous Worldviews and Implications to Social Work

Advanced Standing MSW Program (Part-Time)

Part-time Advanced Standing MSW program — six (6) terms
Part–Time students are required to take their evening core courses as scheduled.

Year 1Term 1–FallTerm 2–WinterTerm 3–Summer
GS/SOWK 5150 3.0: Critical Perspectives in Social WorkGS/SOWK 5550 3.0: Indigenous Worldviews and Implications to Social WorkElectives Available
Year 2Term 4–FallTerm 5–WinterTerm 6–Summer
GS/SOWK 5250 3.0: Graduate Research Seminar (GRS)GS/SOWK 5450 3.0: Practice-based Research Paper Seminar (PRS)Electives Available
GS/SOWK 5350 6.0: Advanced Practicum (450 hours)
Plus 2 electives taken at any time during the 6 terms

Two-Year Full-Time MSW Program–5 terms

Year 1Term 1–FallTerm 2–WinterTerm 3–Summe
GS/SOWK 5010 3.0: Social Work Theories and Critical Practice (Part 1)GS/SOWK 5011 3.0: Social Work Theories and Critical Practice (Part 2)Electives Available
GS/SOWK 5020 3.0: History of Social Welfare and Social Work from Critical PerspectivesGS/SOWK 5050 3.0: Understanding Organizations for Social Work Practice
GS/SOWK 5030 3.0: Oppression and IntersectionalityGS/SOWK 5310 6.0: Practicum (550 hours)
GS/SOWK 5040 3.0: Social Welfare and Social Policy
Year 2Term 4–FallTerm 5–Winter
GS/SOWK 5150 3.0: Critical Perspectives in Social WorkGS/SOWK 5450 3.0: Practice-based Research Paper Seminar
GS/SOWK 5250 3.0: Graduate Research SeminarGS/SOWK 5550 3.0: Indigenous Worldviews and Implications to Social Work
GS/SOWK 5350 6.0: Advanced Practicum (450 hours)

4 electives (4 x 3.0 credits to be taken over the 2-year program)
I won’t be done with my undergraduate degree before the deadline to apply, can I still apply?

Yes, submit your transcripts “as is”.  If you’re accepted, you’ll be asked to submit your official transcripts after you’ve graduated which will indicate your new status. 

I have an X degree.  Is it considered related?

Most social sciences are considered related, e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology, women’s studies etc.  In cases where degrees are borderline, we would often look at the specific courses that were taken or at the applicants’ experience. If your degree isn’t related you may wish to consider the post-degree BSW.

Can I take the Two-Year Program, for applicants without a BSW on a Part-Time basis?

We don’t have a part-time option for that program.  You may wish to consider the post-degree BSW.

How many letters of reference do I need?

Three:  one academic, one professional, one of your choice.  Some people find that as mature students they have difficulty finding an academic reference. A strong application will have at least one academic reference as it can speak to your academic abilities.  You may wish to consider volunteering for a professor for a period of time with the understanding that they will provide a reference letter for you at some point.

Does my professional reference use the same form as the academic reference?

References are done electronically when you enter their names and email addresses and all the forms are the same.  Many referees also attach a letter, but that’s optional.

What do I put on my statement and how long is it?
Please double-space and type your response to the following (total maximum of 500 words): Write a statement about a contemporary social justice issue that interests you. Your statement should include the following components:
  1. Describe the social issue.
  2. Explain why this is a social issue and the factors that contribute to it.
  3. Discuss the impacts it has on individuals, families, communities, and/or society.
  4. Discuss what can be done to promote social change and reduce suffering with respect to the social issue (e.g., what changes can be made).
  5. If you wish, you may include any personal, community, professional, and/or academic experiences you have had, related to the social issue you are interested in.
  6. Explain why you believe York University's School of Social Work is a good choice for you given your research and practice interests.
What is the competitive average?

The minimum is a B+ over the last two years (20 half–courses) of study; however, the Two-Year Full-Time MSW has so many applicants the competitive average for that program is an A.

How are the various elements of the package ranked?

The selection committee doesn’t consider any one element of your application more valuable than another. An application that may have some weaker areas might be admitted based on strengths in other areas.  If you meet the minimum standards you have a chance of being admitted into the program.

Does X count on my resume?

Everything you put on your resume counts as experience and specifically more experience in social services helps to build a stronger application. Paid work tends to be more highly valued than unpaid/volunteer, however, include both in your application.  Please specify the period (by year and months) of your various related paid or unpaid experiences in social services.   If you have part-time paid and/or volunteer experience, please also specify how many hours per week or month you work or volunteer.

When will I hear back?

Application review results for the fall session are expected to be available by mid-late March for the MSW Advanced Standing Program and mid-late April for the 2-year MSW program.

What does the application process involve?

The application to the program is a two-step process.

The first step will be completing the initial application online where you will be asked to input a method of payment.  You will get confirmation of the payment number with this process. 

Within 5-7 business days an email from York University will be sent to confirm your application has been received and will provide you with your York University Student ID number.  If you have been a York Student, or are currently a York student, the number will be the same.

You will be given the link to the MYFILE where you will complete the second step of the application.   

Once you login to the MYFILE please read and follow the directions carefully.  Bear in mind, that staff cannot see what you see, so you must be diligent.

In the MYFILE, you will have to upload your CV, and Statement of Interest, and complete Supplementary Information Form (.pdf).  You will have input the email addresses of your referees and they will be prompted to complete an email reference form/letter.  We do not accept hard-copy letters.  Unofficial transcripts can be uploaded to the MYFILE.  **** Please note that only transcripts will be used to calculate the applicant's GPA, as grade reports tend to not include important information from your institution.  If you are a current York University student, then you will not be expected to provide transcripts as we have those on file.

Learn More

The Graduate Program in Social Work at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Engagement Coordinator for information.