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Forum created for those who applied to York University's MSW program for the Fall 2016 entrance. Please share your experience: have you been accepted? wait-listed? rejected? still waiting to hear from them? Here is insight on the program from a current student to ensure that York is a right fit for you: On 2016-03-16 at 1:13 PM, serendipitous22 said: Hi everyone. I'm currently in the MSW program at York University. I remember very well what it was like to repeatedly check my email and the various online application systems, and my mailbox... for those of you who are still waiting, hang in there! I wanted to share some information about my program that I wish I had known when I was applying, and when I was making my decision. To be completely fair, here is a brief overview of the type of person that I think would be a good fit for the York MSW program: - You are very interested in critical social work theories, including Marxism, critical race theory, feminism, queer theory, critical disability studies, etc. (*York does not yet have a strong Indigenous component to the program. UVic is excellent at this if that's what you're looking for. Arguably we should all be looking for this, but I digress.) - You did a BSW that heavily focussed on clinical skills OR somehow have clinical skills already. In this instance, I actually think York would be a really good complement to your existing skills. - You want to do macro or meso level social work practice, such as: community work, grassroots activism/organizing, research, group work, programming. York is a good choice for this as it focuses on critical social work practice, which translates well into macro/meso social work practice. - You want to do a PhD and are very interested in theory and want to write a major research paper. U of T limits the number of students who can do a thesis, so York would be a good choice for you as every student needs to write a practice-based research paper (same as a major research paper; note that a PRP is shorter than a Master's thesis) and this is a requirement for many PhD programs. Unfortunately for me, I don't fall into any of these categories and I have been disappointed with the program. I'm writing this in the hopes that you will have a bit more information than I did when making an admissions decision. There are a total of 20 students in my cohort/class, and we have had many extensive discussions as a group about our shared frustration and disappointment with the curriculum, faculty, and department. I would estimate that: 3-4 students have seriously considered dropping out or transferring (including me), 10-12 actively and vocally dislike/resent/are disappointed with the program, and 5-6 aren't happy or satisfied but are committed to just getting it over with. There isn't a single person in my cohort that has expressed basic satisfaction - let alone enthusiasm - for any aspect of the program, aside from the funding package (more on that later). There were some 'rumours' that went around the forum during my application year that I can now comment on based on my own experience. York does not have established relationships with key clinical practicum agencies in the GTA. York has good relationships with a lot of agencies that would interest you if you're interested in community work, policy, research, or activism/organizing. U of T has exclusivity agreements with many clinical agencies, meaning that the agency agrees to only take on U of T students. These include many hospitals or clinical facilities such as Hincks-Dellcrest, CAMH, and the University Hospital Network. Aside from these exclusivity agreements, many clinical/counselling agencies will not accept placement applications from York students. There ARE some exceptions to this rule, but everyone at York who wants to go into clinical/counselling work then has to compete against each other (and students from other schools) to get those limited placement positions. Generally speaking it is true that U of T has a lockdown on key clinical placement sites. If you have ANY interest in doing clinical work (counselling, working in a hospital, crisis work, trauma work, individual/family/couples/group therapy), and you are seriously considering attending another program, go there instead of York. This is the bottom line. Secondly, even if you feel optimistic about securing one of the few clinical placements available, you should know that York does not teach any clinical or practical skills. I knew this when I was applying, but I didn't REALLY understand it. Examples of skills or clinical topics that you will not learn at York include: developing a therapeutic alliance (this term is never used at York), building trust and rapport, phases or stages of a counselling relationship, communication skills (open-ended questions, active listening, reframing, summarizing), assessment skills, documentation skills, treatment planning, crisis intervention, counselling theories, counselling methods, ANYTHING related to mental health conditions (signs, symptoms, therapies).... you get it. There is one class on group facilitation and one class on narrative therapy (the only counselling course); both are electives. This is because York's MSW programs draw on a wholly different knowledge base than U of T, or other clinical programs. Critical social work draws on critical social theories, like Marxism, feminism, critical race theory, queer theory, critical disability studies, etc. U of T's social work program primarily draws on psychology, the medical model, and psychotherapy as a knowledge base. This is why York's mission statement and admissions process emphasis anti-oppression and social justice, and U of T's mission statement and admissions process emphasize research, "clinical" practice, and evidence-based treatment. To illustrate this difference, U of T offers classes on Social Work Practice in Mental Health, Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families, Advanced Social Work Practice in Mental Health, and electives related to trauma, counselling theories, cyber-counselling, child and adolescent trauma.... etc. York offers classes called Critical Perspectives in Mental Health and Critical Social Work Theories and Practice Skills. In the latter, you will learn about how and why various therapies (e.g. CBT, solution-focussed, strengths approach) are inherently problematic. You will not learn how to practice any of these therapies, OR even learn how they are done. You will also not learn how to practice any alternative treatments (in fact, you would never ever say 'treatment' at York). York focuses on critical and structural social work, so their critique of CBT, for example, would be that CBT individualizes a person's symptoms (let's say anxiety) instead of looking at the structural and contextual factors (e.g. the person who feels anxious is a racialized person living in poverty and on the brink of homelessness, so York might say that instead of medication and CBT, we should advocate for affordable housing and a guaranteed annual income). This is IMPORTANT and I have valued this, but I am not better prepared to work with someone with anxiety (meaning I still have no clue what to do). (This is why I imagine that a clinical BSW + a York MSW could be a good combination). So, many of us are stuck and eager to wrap up the program. Some students are doing external training - which, by the way, is incredibly expensive (a one day workshop ranges from $300-$500 and a certificate course in CBT could be $2000). Don't bother thinking, "Oh I'll just take electives at U of T", because there is only a very, very, very miniscule chance that you will be allowed to do so. One redeeming aspect of the York MSW program is its generous funding package. If finances are an issue for you, then it's worth seriously considering attending York as the funding packages are generous. In the 2-year program everyone gets a $15,000 package ($9,000 in Year 1 through a graduate assistantship (which requires 5 hours work/week) and other money, and $6000 in Year 2 through a research assistantship which doesn't require any work). If you get a York Graduate Scholarship then you get $6000 on top of this package. You will get all of this information in your acceptance letter. York also has very low tuition at roughly $1800 per semester. By comparison, the tuition at U of T is TREMENDOUSLY higher and they don't offer any funding packages. ** This is not inconsequential and despite everything else I've said, the money makes a huge difference ** /end rant BEST OF LUCK to all of you. I know this is a stressful time -- hang in there! I hope you all end up at a school that is a good fit for you personally and professionally.