Author Topic: California Institute of Integral Studies  (Read 4562 times)

Offline educatedindian

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California Institute of Integral Studies
« on: June 05, 2021, 10:46:30 pm »
There's a lot of problems with them, starting with how former students regard them.

Britta L.
Los Angeles, CA
I had a traumatic and abysmal experience with this institution. While the professors and lecturers and teachers were wonderful, the school is hopelessly mismanaged and disorganized, and the student body was tone deaf and tactless. I felt sorry for the incredible professors for having to deal with such an ineffective administration and obnoxious students. I withdrew after a month and thats where things get worse.

Recently I was contacted by a debt collector informing me that I owed this school almost $4000 from when I matriculated for a few shorts weeks a year and a half ago. At the time of my withdrawal I withdrew in time to receive a 75% refund, and my loan money was applied at that time to pay for 25% of my tuition. I contacted the school and they claim that because I added three courses, I now owe them 100% of the tuition for those courses. I explained that I understood those courses were added after my loan money was applied, but that it sounded to me like they were trying to charge me the full semester cost of these three extra units, and not 25% of those units (which would amount to about $1000). They continued to insist that I owed them the full amount for these extra courses, despite conceding that I withdrew after only a month and that they were beholden to charge me only 25% for that semester.

My overall credit will be affected and I will most likely have to take this institution to court to sort this matter. Avoid this institution at all costs. It is a miserable experience to matriculate, and an absolute nightmare to deal with the administration and the financial office... bordering on criminal. I have consulted an attorney to represent me. This place is a shambles.

J J.
Durham, NC
0243   12/5/2020
A very political school. Most emails I got from the school is about their political agenda. Classmates are hostile. They like to report you by policing your words. It is mentally harassing.

Boris S.
San Mateo, CA
I attended therapy sessions and what they called "intensives" coordinated and offered by Jorge Ferrer along with faculty from out of europe sponsored by CIIS out of Europe.  JF facilitated sessions along with the faculty in question. They used students like Elizabeth Hussler who weren't trained to deal with what came up from the so-called session which were tightly experiential and the teachers constantly discouraging from making attempts to understand and make sense of while also charging therapy fees in cash only. It turned out the faculty was in the process of moving or immigrating from Europe. What's worse they actively employed highly experiential methods based on their own beliefs about sexuality, spirituality and psychology. It turned out they were promoting their own groups. The outcome was my circumstances became much worse and they just didn't have enough understanding of the US and cultural issues. This has been reported and I informed administration via mail several times. It had a very negative impact in me, my regular job, and circumstances. that only got worse with their methods.

Richard G.
Manhattan, New York, NY
I have not gone to this school, but have had been treated with a therapist trained here, and doing his internship. I also went to a psychiatrist who was recommended by staff here. Both experiences were terrible.

At first, my experience with the CIIS therapist started out ok. He was an amateur, but I wan't paying much for the sessions. In retrospect, paying full price for a therapist is probably a good idea.

The guy had no boundaries, kept talking about how my feelings made HIM feel, and would project emotions onto me that weren't there. It was the most unprofessional, confusing and mindfreaking experience, because I had never been to a therapist before and was trying to trust them. If I wasn't expressing the emotion which he felt was appropriate for the situation, he told me something was wrong with me. It's only since I've been to a real, legitimate therapist did I see how off the mark the CIIS training is.

I also had a senior staff member recommend a psychiatrist, Dr. William Quick, to me. I was told this doctor was brilliant and excellent with medication. Dr. Quick prescribed me off label drugs for anxiety that caused me major neurological problems and seizures. There was a class action suit against the drug company for this very reason. All of the Yelp reviews of this doctor are pretty bad, since he is reckless with medication.


Nicole M.
Berkeley, CA
Do not attend school here. Programs are completely different in reality than pitched online and in info sessions. On top of that what I was told I would be paying TRIPLED between receiving my tuition information and the beginning of the semester. I did not even know about this until I received an email FIVE WEEKS into the semester that I owed money. I sent multiple emails and received no response, when I went in I was told to "figure it out on my own". I haven't been a student there for a month and I am still fighting for a refund. And I received an email that I can't enroll in spring classes because I owe money? I'm not a student and can't enroll in classes for a number of reasons.

Mitchell F.
San Francisco, CA
   8/11/2018Updated review
Please if you are thinking of going to school, consider that the administration is still eating granola and drumming singing Joan Boaz songs not realizing outside the narcissistic illusion - we are in the 21st century with Twitter and Uber on the next block-- the teachers are amazing but... you will feel like you are being swindled by the time you leave.  The financial aid department is a mess - every semester - there were serious mistakes made in management of my package.

Elle N.
Oakland, CA
I graduated from CIIS. The administration is dysfunctional and disorganized. It's a sea of bureaucracy and sometimes that can result in huge issues - like not receiving proper financial aid or inadequate advising that results in not fulfilling graduation requirements or having confidential material made available to other students or employees (yes this all happened to me or my fellow students).

The faculty had inappropriate boundaries, drinking with students, flirting, and one of my friends slept with our teacher - they waited til the class was over, but still. The faculty were also very inconsistent with support and curriculum. The school is laid back and not very difficult to pass classes, but it often felt extreme, like I wasn't learning much in certain classes and tuition DOES NOT REFLECT the level of education. It's a very expensive school in a very expensive city, and a lot of the classes are just not worth the cost.

The advertising for CIIS shows a "diverse" student body - in reality it's mostly owning class/wealthy straight cis white women who meditate and do yoga and became politicized because Trump was elected (as if nothing in the world was an issue before then). The administration recruits people of color and trans people for the photo shoots for their brochures and marketing materials (and I know this to be true because I watched it happen), but it is simply not reflecting the actual student body.

The only thing I can say for this school and why it gets one star (though let's get real - I can't give it less than one on yelp) is that they are one of the only schools that teaches holistic, integral, somatic, and drama therapy approaches. That is exciting, but it's not worth it in my opinion. You can go to a cheaper school and get a specialized training in any of these things after school. Also, even if you go to this school, you will still need a more specialized training after you graduate, because you will only be learning theory and won't actually learn much about technique.

Jack C.
A member of my family is enrolled in an accredited program that they bought 2 years ago, and it's been a nightmare dealing with an unprofessional administration that has no clue how to run a real educational institution.  Yes, financial aid is a mess.  Their website actually directs students to escalate issues to other departments when they are inevitably ignored by department employees who give zero f's.

We are also worried that the school's poor finances have hurt the reputation of the top notch program. There is massive turnover at the top from cost cutting, and graduation rates have plummeted because of increased busy work and years of zero guidance on how to complete that workload.

We are thankful to the (mostly) five star visiting professors for salvaging the experience. Changes are being made, but it is too little, too late.

Linjie C.
San Francisco, CA
Don't waste your money on this school. Very unprofessional admissions staff. The documents have to be sent many times before the lazy team confirms it. And most of their teachers are also graduates from their own school. pseudo scientific establishment, spiritual wannabes indeed

Vinita G.
Emeryville, CA
I called after an assault for an appointment.  Someone replied within two days and said someone would call me with an appointment within 3-5 days.   ,(I have permission to leave a msg on vm) I called and left another message after 10 days and no response.  It's been over 2 weeks and still no response.  Such a supportive way to treat a victim of trauma....NOT!

Marisa F.
Baton Rouge, LA
Take your money elsewhere.

I am a graduate of the Somatic Psychology program at CIIS. This is a review of the CIIS Business Office. Three years after completing my degree and receiving my diploma, the CIIS Business Office emailed me a notice that I would be sent to collections if I did not pay a fee that was added to my account one full year after I graduated from the program. The Staff Accountant for the Business Office sent me to the financial aid office in order to not have to deal with the error, when only moments later, another Business Office employee acknowledged that a mistake had been made and several students had been effected by an error in their system. While waiting in the office for the staff accountant ran off for a "meeting," the staff fielded dozens of calls from students dealing with similar billing issues. This anecdote is consistent with the ineptitude of the CIIS Administration throughout my time here as a student.

Additionally, I saw other egregious prejudices here. Members of my initial cohort who came to study as international students were unable to complete the program after the school had collected their money, because the same faculty members who evaluated their language skills to admit them to the program later determined that their language skills were insufficient to complete it.

Hannak S.
Walnut Creek, CA
I graduated from this school many years ago and not am now a licensed therapist in the community. I really liked the professors that I had, and enjoyed the studies, and the emphasis on Buddhist psychology. The experiential piece to learning and requirement to be in therapy during practicum stand out as having really helped me in my career. But if I had to do it over again somewhere else, I would.

Firstly, I am still paying off tuition debt and will be for a long time. Being a therapist is not a high income kind of job, and the Bay Area is very expensive- the tuition at CIIS is very high, as is the cost of living in any surrounding area.
The practicum and internship connections are not very good and most of them did not pay anything. There wasn't any career guidance support.
Do your research to see the potential income of a pre and post licensed therapist before considering going to grad school here, that would be my advice.
If you attend CIIS you will graduate with a lot of debt, a long road to licensure for low-paying jobs at the other end, unless the mental health system changes all together, but that is an entirely different story.
Mostly I noticed that many of the students I met while at CIIS were in grad school as a hobby and not because they needed a job post-graduation, lots of students with trust funds and/or someone paying their way.

Claire L.
Emeryville, CA
This school is a joke. Seriously, I have a long academic history and have found nothing but inadequate professors, unqualified students, hypocrisy and drama associated with this institution. They have been sued by their own students many times. They overcharge like crazy and under deliver. Do not waste your money!!! You can study psychedelics on your own.

Cheryl C.
Davis, CA
I don't write a lot of reviews, but as a parent of a grad student at this institution, I feel I have to. I have always had great respect for this institute because of its alternative approach and world view. However, my daughter experienced rampant sexual harassment by a professor and was unable to withdraw from the institution after she transferred to another school. It is still 6 months  since she left and they still won't drop her from the rolls and keep sending her bills for the next semester. No amount of phone calls or emails will provoke a response on their behalf. Also, the student housing provided at the "monastery" was deplorable and unsafe. It is infested with mice and student are expected to share one key, kept in a lock box on the front door. My daughter was locked out more than once in the middle of the night. Such a disappointing experience. She only stayed one semester and transferred to a different program in Berkeley which is a vast improvement. Buyer beware of this place!

mickey M.
San Francisco, CA
What is up with an instructor telling a Latina immigrant, who speaks English well and does not speak Spanish in class, "You are in American now, you need to speak English"?
This was said in front of the group she was instructing.  I cannot believe this would happen in SF.  The school could be sued for this and it is just the worst behavior.  Bad for the class, the student, the teacher and the school.

Squinka C.
San Francisco, CA
If you want to pay out enough money to bail out the auto industry in exchange for the profound academic reward of sitting in a drumcircle while listening to new age platitudes... If you are willing to carefully sift through academic material that ranges from the well founded and intriguing all the way down to proudly presented complete nonsense...
If you want to be so impressed with how compassionate, humble and spiritual you've become that you don't actually notice anyone not in your cool-to-be-me club*...

then sign up and pay up. become institutionalized here.

While I like pretty much all of my classmates one-on-one, something about the over-all school atmosphere brings out the new-agey worst in folks as a group in the classroom. I like new ideas and experiential learning as much as the next pseudo-hippie, but the good buzz is just missing for me here.

ugh. Half the time I feel like I'm chewing glass as I try to keep silent while listening to and witnessing scenes that could be taped for a MadTV parody. No edits necessary.

One star for having a handful of amazing professors who manage to successfully integrate creative, experiential learning techniques with academic rigor.

One star for squeaking (squinking?) by because of the above professors and some of my squinkety classmates as still the best place for my education.

UPDATE 2012: Reduced to one star after witnessing the full implications of the syndrome below by faculty and students. Yechblech. After writing the review above and completing my MA, decided to use advanced standing at the school to complete a PhD. Almost finito. Thank you, satan for seeing me through this "godly" place.

R X.
San Francisco, CA
   3/11/2010Updated review
I have been in the Integral Counseling program for about a year now and I am looking into transferring out to another school.  The program is not known for its academic challenging environment, I knew that going in.  In other words, if you want academic training, go somewhere else. 

Here is my real problem though: I love the experiential program philosophy, but in order for that to work, experiential classes need to be lead by professors/teachers who have the proper professional and academic training, and who are not "swimming in countertransference".

I have had teachers that haven't practiced in a while (are truly out of touch with counseling matters), and others that just recently graduated from a masters degree program and are not even licensed therapists.  Bottom line, CIIS is not cheap, and I have been very disappointed in the quality of the education they provide.

My suggestion: go to a program that will provide you with the theory and invest your money in individual therapy, group therapy and other trainings provided by other organizations.   This way you will get the theory and the personal growth.

Kay J.
Park Ridge, IL
Supremely inferior "institute" filled with phonies, "New Age" con-artists, incompetent professors with degrees from mediocre schools, and a very disfunctional administration.  Many of the "professors" and administrators of CIIS have MAJOR unresolved psychological issues, in my not-so-humble opinion, and there is much cut-throat competitiveness here, under the guise of "compassionate" learning.  I say:  SAVE YOUR MONEY, go to a state school if possible, or at least a more established institution.

Offline educatedindian

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Re: California Institute of Integral Studies
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2021, 08:27:45 pm »
Criticisms of CIIS tend to be directed to the following points:

The Institute's heavy reliance on student tuition [school fees], resulting in relatively high costs which must be borne by students.
A lack of representation by certain U.S. minority groups, possibly related to costs. (CIIS is predominantly white, with a significant East Asian presence as well.)
Poor and/or unresponsive leadership and administration.
Low academic quality on the part of at least some programs and courses, especially when compared to mainstream ones elsewhere. For example, despite the school's early focus on Asian spiritual traditions, CIIS is not now considered one of the better places to study them.
A "consumerist" curriculum model, in which program and course offerings seem to be driven mainly by student demand.
Over-emphasis on subjects which are widely perceived as "flaky." For example, the school offers a Women's Spirituality course entitled "Menstruation: Blood, Bread, and Roses."
A corresponding neglect of mainstream subjects not of interest to the CIIS subculture. For example, despite its spiritual focus, the Institute is unlikely to cover mainstream (non-"mystical") forms of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.
A certain disconnect between the standards and methodologies of some CIIS departments, and mainsrteam ones elsewhere. For example, several CIIS programs include the name "philosophy" but make no attempt to qualify for recognition by the American Philosophical Association, apparently on the grounds that their conception of "philosophy" is radically different. Some departments appear to exist entirely without reference to a wider academic field to which they might be held accountable.
The difficulty that many CIIS graduates face in finding suitable employment, as compared with their counterparts from other schools.

....7:11, 4 January 2007 (UTC)
Regional accreditation is not evidence of "rigorous" academics but of "acceptable" (perhaps barely) academics--i.e., they do not appear to be engaging in outright fraud. CIIS is absent from...well, as far as I know ALL college rankings (both general and subject-specific), which surely indicates that it is a marginal school with little respect from the people who do those rankings. I'm sure that most academics in related disciplines would give a similar opinion, and discourage their students from choosing CIIS.
I also notice that hardly any of its numerous graduates (though rather more of its instructors) appear to have made their presence felt in fields such as philosophy or religious studies (as would be shown for example, by university hirings and refereed publications). The sole exception would be the controversial field of Trans-Personal Psychology (which skeptics also tend to dismiss as flaky, as they do paranormal subjects in general). I suppose that CIIS graduates are more likely to be found in professional practices of psychology and religion than in the academy.
Come on, we're talking about a school which offered a course called "Menstruation: Blood, Bread, and Roses." Which according to the catalogue, was taught through ritual practice. Even granting CIIS the benefit of every doubt, what possible interpretation would result in this qualifying as legitimate academic work?
Finally, school fees and selectivity are matters of public record, no? Surely a fair overview of CIIS would record that it is expensive and easy to get into.

....And as I wrote, (a) the assertion that CIIS has "rigorous" academics is the unsupported assertion here, and (b) the issues of fees, course content, and racial breakdown are matters of public record (I got them from their website).
The absence of its graduates from academic positions or publications elsewhere could be demonstrated easily enough, as could the school's absence from academic rankings. Would that do? Also, I note that former professor Charles Tart won a Pigasus award (for pseudo-science). That's easily documented.

That's not the only questionable faculty. I've never seen a university with so many MAs and even BAs as professors. Most schools, you can't be more than an adjunct if you only have a master's. At CIIS you have this:

Margey DeCuir Program Coordinator
Human Sexuality School of Consciousness and Transformation (SCT)
BA, San Francisco State University

Or even no degree listed at all:

Lilly Falconer Program Coordinator
Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness
School of Consciousness and Transformation (SCT)

This is the strangest and most amateurish university directory I've ever seen. Faculty, staff, alumni, board of directors, even empty boxes and a generic adjunct faculty space all mixed together. They also have a "council of sages" with accomplishments like:
Ram Dass
Consciousness Explorer

Actually the guy died 2 years ago. Real name, Richard Alpert, a white hippie associate of Timothy Leary who mixed drug use with an Americanized yuppie version of Hinduism. Some choices for these "sages" are bizarre in other ways.

Angela Davis is a well known communist. (I'm not using that as an insult. She's a long time party member.) Being a communist, that means she regards all religion as "the opiate of the people," false, a tool used by capitalists, and just a way to dull the pain of being oppressed. Besides being a professor, she's best known back in the 1970s for beating a murder charge after giving guns to a radical charged with kidnapping a judge and shooting cops.