University Of Ottawa To Offer Psychedelic Studies Master’s Program Beginning In Fall 2022

University Of Ottawa To Offer Psychedelic Studies Master’s Program Beginning In Fall 2022

Canada is taking an important step in psychedelic studies later this year.

In the fall of 2022, the University of Ottawa will launch a Master’s program in psychedelics and consciousness studies, offering a variety of courses. These include psychedelic psychotherapy and mental health, spirituality, and shamanic traditions.

The university first launched the microprogram in Psychedelics and Spirituality Studies in 2020. Following its success, the University of Ottawa will now expand the program into more psychedelic studies.

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Microprogram In Psychedelics And Spirituality Studies

Taught by Dr. Anne Vallely and Dr. Monnica Williams, this microprogram encompasses several disciplines. These include topics like religious studies, psychology, anthropology, and health. The goal of the psychedelic studies program is to examine the spiritual, ritual, and therapeutic uses of psychedelics.

Furthermore, the program will study non-ordinary states of consciousness across a variety of cultures and throughout history.

The microprogram launched in the Religious Studies Department during the pandemic. This was after recent studies and research conducted by the Johns Hopkins University showed that psychedelic drugs have incredible potential in treating chronic health issues. This prompted Dr. Valley and Dr. Williams — experts in the knowledge of death, dying and grief, as well as mental health disparities — to create a psychedelic studies course.

To enroll in the microprogram, candidates must have a four-year Bachelor’s degree, or equivalent diploma. After completion, students will receive nine credits towards the Master’s program in psychedelic studies.

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The Master’s Program In Psychedelics Studies

The idea for the Master’s program in psychedelic studies was to expand the microprogram and dive deeper into the field of psychedelics and psychotherapy. This is to intertwine both religious studies and spirituality.

Initially, enrollment will only be 20 students, with the goal being to attract mental health clinicians — both doctors and psychotherapists. Additionally, the program will seek active individuals from backgrounds in chaplaincy and theology.

Founders say that training will help educate students to work with psychedelics in an “informed, ethical, and safe way, specifically across race and ethnicity and other dimensions of stigma.”

The program will stress training from different populations across different cultures.

The connection between the religious studies and the wisdom tradition of the different cultures is important. This helps bring the mysticism of the psychedelic experience closer to understanding. It’s why, during the course, students will contribute a minimum of 100 hours of work with a variety of indigenous communities. This is to help them learn about traditional practices and healing techniques.

In addition, the University of Ottawa is actively communicating with communities and institutions — such as the Brazilian Santo Daime churches. These places are legally capable of using ayahuasca brew for religious purposes. Therefore, these churches are legally exempt under Section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

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Given the murky legal status of psychedelics, some may be wondering about the legal framework of the Master’s program.

Although psychedelic studies includes deep knowledge, students will not be interacting with substances that are illegal.

Under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, psychedelics are regulated as Schedule III substances. This means that selling, possessing, and producing them is illegal unless given permission for a clinical trial or research. Additionally, the federal Health Minister may approve the use of psychedelics on a case-by-case basis. This is due to Section 56 exemptions — like the Santo Daime churches.

Students will not use any psychedelic substances. However, participants will observe and learn from indigenous communities — whom are exempt from the CDSA. In order for the program to exist, it has to stay within legal grounds.

The launch of the Master’s program in psychedelic studies is an exciting step towards better understanding what psychedelics are. While there remains stigma surrounding the drugs, the program will be another step in showing how they can be an effective treatment method.

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Karla Tafra

View all posts by Karla Tafra

Karla is a freelance writer, yoga teacher and nutritionist who's been writing about nutrition, fitness, yoga, mindfulness, and overall health and wellness topics for over seven years. She's written for numerous publications such as Healthline, Livesavvy,, Well + Good, and many others, sharing her love of storytelling and educating. She loves talking about superfoods and another amazing plant powers that people can benefit from if they learn how to use it properly. Her passion lies in helping others not only eat healthier meals but implement good eating habits, find a great relationship with food & achieve a balanced lifestyle. She believes that the only diet and lifestyle that's worth creating is the one you can stick to, so she aims to find what that means for each and every individual. Teaching WHY we eat, and not only WHAT we eat, is the premise of her approach.

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