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Faculty of Community Services

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Program at a glance

Program format: One year, full-time

Start date: September entry

Tuition fees range: Tuition fee details

Degree earned: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Professional accreditation: Ryerson’s MSW program is fully accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education.

The School of Social Work at Ryerson is a leader in the field of social work education through its integration and study of anti-oppression, marginalization and critical approaches to practice. We draw on critical analyses of socio-economic inequalities and processes of marginalization to understand how people become users of social services. You will learn to critically interpret and reflect on power relations in social work in order to promote social justice and transform practice. This perspective is relevant to all major fields of social work, including practice within child welfare settings, school boards, clinical and community programs, and government institutions.

Career opportunities

Typical career paths include, but are not limited to:

  • Activist
  • Advocate
  • Case manager
  • Child protection social worker
  • Clinical counsellor
  • Community development worker
  • Community educator
  • Community outreach worker
  • Community youth mobilization worker
  • Conflict resolution worker
  • Crisis counsellor
  • Educator
  • Family service worker
  • Group facilitator
  • Home assessment coordinator
  • Individual and family therapist
  • Mediator
  • Professor
  • Program manager
  • Research coordinator
  • Settlement counsellor
  • Social worker
  • Student/parent support worker
  • Trainer
Why Social Work at Ryerson?

Social Work at Ryerson opens the door to advanced practice and leadership roles, preparing you to transform the lives of citizens and communities.

Our comprehensive curriculum integrates classroom learning with a variety of opportunities for practice and research:

  • Classes emphasize a critical perspective, self-reflexivity and responsible action for social change.
  • Outstanding field placement opportunities include 450 hours of advanced practice within child welfare, community health, school, community agency and government settings.
  • The Major Research Paper (MRP) component allows you to conduct original research on a topic of your choice. Many of our graduates publish in top journals or go on to pursue doctoral studies.

We are located in the heart of downtown Toronto. Our inclusive approach reaches beyond campus to engage with communities and support change.

Equipped with a strong foundation in critical approaches and anti-oppression, our graduates go on to promote social justice in their practice.

Curriculum

Our rewarding curriculum blends research, theory and practice into a challenging program that allows you to develop the advanced skills and knowledge in social work that can only come from a master’s education.

Core courses address complementary theories related to anti-oppression practice and social processes of marginalization.

Elective courses on topics such as anti-racism, Aboriginal approaches to social work, and sexuality and gender support you to explore various interests relevant to your practice.

In your field placement, you build on your existing social work experience and acquire the tools needed for advanced critical practice.

The Major Research Paper (MRP) provides an opportunity for you to direct your own learning, pursue a specific research interest and contribute knowledge to the social work field.

Throughout your time with us, we will challenge you to develop:

  • A strong analytic ability

  • Critical judgment

  • Robust research skills

  • Advanced capacity for social work intervention

To complete your MSW, you must:

 


 

Take four required courses:

  • SK8101 Critical Perspectives on Marginalization This course explores social marginalization, both as a descriptive concept and as a set of multidimensional explanatory processes. The course aims to produce a complex understanding of the various forms that marginalisation has assumed at different times, and of how marginalization has been expressed in relation to particular groups in society. The aim of the course is to develop an analysis which fosters and encourages practical strategies of social work and political interventions. Corequisite SK8102. 1 Credit

  • SK8102 Anti-oppression Responses to Marginalization This course, taken concurrently with SK8010, theorizes historical developments and examines contemporary contexts of globalization. A wide range of anti-oppression social work strategies for responding to marginalisation is explored. The course examines the intricate and layered processes of oppression so that each person takes responsible action. Emphasis will be placed on critical analyses of anti oppression theories and practices. Students will also have opportunities to strengthen their self-reflexivity in terms of their own social location and their previous social work practice. Corequisite SK8101. 1 Credit

  • SK8103 Advanced Research for Social Change This course is focussed on advanced research methods so that students are prepared to design and engage in original research. This course provides knowledge and skills to conduct research from a critical and interpretive perspective. Students will also have opportunities to understand the contributory role of research in any anti-oppression response to marginalization and in the development of inclusive practices. 1 Credit

  • SK8104 Practice Research Seminar In the seminar and practice, students draw upon experience, theory and research in order to advance social work thought and/or develop theory focused practice responses. The seminar engages students in research that advances the knowledge base of anti oppression practice. The professor leads the seminar focused on applied research and theory. Knowledge development is guided by principles of promoting equity and social justice. 1 Credit

 


 

Complete a Major Research Paper:   

  • Major Research Paper The major research paper provides the students the opportunity to engage in original research. The students engage in critical analysis and knowledge development with respect to social work practice. The paper should include sections on research design, methodology and theoretical development. Findings should apply to both social work practice and future graduate research. Students will be supervised by a professor and papers are to be reviewed by a second reader. This is a “Milestone”. Pass/Fail

 


 

Complete a Field Practicum:

  • SK8105 Field Practicum Students focus on the synthesis and application of advance anti- oppression social work practice knowledge. The student is expected to apply knowledge gained from practice, theory and research in their advanced practice role within practicum. Students are placed in field placement settings to experience and learn about advanced practice. Student field placements are congruent with the mission of the school and the field of study of the graduate program. 2 Credits. Pass/Fail.

     


 

And take two elective courses:

Please note, only three elective courses are available per academic year. View current course offerings.  

  • SK 8201: Critical Approaches to Advanced Community Work This course provides students with a critical understanding of different models and trends of community work in Canada. The course critically analyzes issues that impact marginalized communities in the current political context of social work practice. Through discussions with practitioners and academics, students learn about strategies for building counter power of communities to achieve social change.  1 Credit
  • SK 8202: Critical Perspectives on Child Welfare This course critically explores the different aspects that have influenced the relationship between the State and the family through the child welfare systems in Canada. Particular attention will be placed into the overrepresentation of marginalized populations such as racialized, aboriginal, and single mothers within the child welfare system. Discourses of risk, motherhood, and other elements that are relevant to social work interventions will be discussed. Alternative child welfare practices will be also explored.  1 Credit
  • SK 8203: The Settlement Experience in Canada This course examines the experience of immigrants who have settled in Canada, their integration into Canadian society, and their social processes of marginalisation and exclusion in those experiences. This course considers the lived experiences of immigrants and the practical interventions that may interact with, reproduce or challenge processes of social exclusion. Equitable and anti-oppression approaches to service provision and community development with refugees and immigrants, including social movement and immigrant-based services are explored in-depth.  1 Credit

  • SK 8204: Advanced Anti-Oppression Practise in Health This course critically explores frameworks used to understand health and its determinants, and to link these to clinical, community, and policy arenas of social work practice. This course examines the different ways that health is conceptualized and implications of each for social work’s role.  1 Credit

  • SK 8205: Critical Perspectives on Anti-Racism This course examines the critical anti-racism perspective as a necessary tool to challenge and dismantle oppressive social relations. The interconnections between social work research, policy, and practice from a critical anti-racism perspective is explored for the purpose of discovering avenues of social change possibilities that challenge the current status quo.  1 Credit

  • SK 8206: Advanced Anti-Oppression Practice in Sexuality and Gender Variance This course explores current theories and research concerning sexual diversity and gender variance. The focus  is on critical examination of the role of social movements, queer and TS/TG theories, community organizations, and social work practices. Students develop advanced skills in critically reflecting upon various social work practices. 1 Credit

  • SK 8207: Critical Social Policy This course explores historical and current social policy formation within the framework of critical analyses of processes of marginalization, resistance, and state intervention. In addition to gaining a strong grounding in critical social policy literature, students also have opportunities to learn techniques for policy research, policy analysis and program development.  1 Credit

  • SK 8208: Indigenous Knowledge in Social Work This course explores Indigenous and marginalized knowledge forms in a global context in relation to the area of social work and its implications for social justice and transformative change. It includes a critique of what constitutes "valid" knowledge, helping practices and research methodologies. Questions regarding power, difference, identity, representation and spirituality is emphasized.  1 Credit

  • SK 8209: Regenerating Aboriginal Social Work Practices and Research This course provides an overview of Aboriginal approaches to social work practices and research. The course draws upon contemporary Aboriginal social work literature to critically reflect on the nature of Aboriginal approaches. The worldview, helping practices and contextual considerations of Aboriginal persons will be considered.  1 Credit

  • SK 8210: International Social Work The course focusses upon the impact of globalization, post-colonialism and financial policies adopted by international organizations on the process of development in the countries of the ‘South.’ The course will critically analyze the social work response to these developments and explore the roles and scope of social work in addressing issues such as poverty, gender inequality and transnational relations.  1 Credit

  • SK 8211: Directed Studies Students arranges to work with an individual faculty member on a course designed to pursue readings in a specific area that is relevant to social work and/or anti-oppressive practice work with marginalized persons and communities.  1 Credit

  • SK 8212: Critical Perspectives on Mental Health This course explores ideas, texts, discourses and practices that have contributed to critical social work practice in mental health, introducing students to structural, feminist, aboriginal and post structural perspectives. Framed by anti-oppressive thought, the course centres voices, histories and approaches often marginalized by biomedical approaches to mental health and illness, using them to re-frame current issues in the field.  1 Credit

  • SK8213: Socially Engaged Media Bringing together masters students in Social Work and Documentary Media, this research/creation seminar explores socially engaged practices which privilege collaboration and social interaction in an interdisciplinary dialogue. These practices adopt and borrow from such disciplines as pedagogy, theatre, ethnography, anthropology, art and social work. Through praxis we will explore common methodological problems faced by researchers and practitioners in relation to their subjects and communities. Antirequisite: CD8350. 1 Credit.

Sample research areas
  • Ableism
  • Anti-Black Racism
  • Anti-Native Racism
  • Anti-oppression social work practices
  • Anti-racism and social work
  • Critical approaches to child welfare
  • Critical approaches to mental health
  • Critical race studies and practice
  • Disability studies
  • Fat studies
  • Gender independence
  • Globalization and social work practice
  • HIV/AIDS education and prevention
  • Immigration
  • Income security
  • Indigenous epistemologies and research methodologies
  • Intersectionality
  • Issues around housing and homelessness
  • Micro-aggressions
  • Queer theory and identities
  • Recreation and sports development
  • Sanism
  • Social inclusion and citizenship
  • Social welfare policy
  • Trans health
Program structure

Ryerson’s MSW is offered on a full-time basis over the course of one year. Part-time study is not available.

During your time with us, you complete four required courses, two elective courses, a field placement and Major Research Paper.

Classes normally meet for three hours a week, per course, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, on campus.

You'll spend 450 hours completing the field placement component. This breaks down to approximately 21 hours per week over the course of 21 weeks from January to June. Placements typically take place three days per week on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Our program is demanding. While it is possible for you to work while completing the program, we advise that you devote only limited hours to your job. If you receive funding, you cannot work more than ten hours per week.

Full-time students are expected to complete the program in 12 months (three terms).

Our program structure is as follows:

Term 1 Fall
  • SK 8101: Critical Perspectives on Marginalization
  • SK 8102: Anti-Oppression Responses to Marginalization
  • SK 8103: Advanced Research for Social Change
  • SK 8104: Practice Research Seminar (Occasional over 2 terms)
  • Elective
Term 2 Winter
  • SK 8104: Practice Research Seminar (Occasional over 2 terms)
  • SK 8105: Field Practicum
  • Elective
Term 3 Spring/Summer
  • SK 8105: Field Practicum
  • Major Research Paper

 

You also must meet requirements for residency, continuous enrolment and minimum degree fees.

Ryerson Social Work life

There is more to the Ryerson Social Work experience than just class, field placements and research.

Ryerson offers countless opportunities to get involved.

Our engaged students, outstanding faculty and supportive staff help build a strong sense of community. Regular lectures and writing workshops, Social Justice Week, and more, spark discussion and create dialogue.

Dedicated graduate student spaces such as the MSW student lounge, MSW student lab, GRADSpace and the seventh floor of the Student Learning Centre provide hubs for graduate students to relax, socialize and study.

Admissions requirements

To be considered for admission to Ryerson’s Master of Social Work, you must meet the minimum program requirements:

  • A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an institution that meets the guidelines of the International Association of Schools of Social Work, or is accredited by a national body of accreditation.

  • A minimum 3.0/4.33 (B or equivalent) average in the last two years of study. Note: Given the strong competition, applicants will normally be required to present academic averages significantly higher than the minimum.

You must also submit:

  • Statement of interest
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation