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Educational Programs

The Master of Arts Program

The Master of Arts program, a two-year program that has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and its predecessor organizations since 1919, prepares students for advanced professional practice. SSA offers additional schedules for completing the Master of Arts program outlined below under Other Enrollment Options.

The School of Social Service Administration’s master’s degree program aims to provide a sophisticated understanding of the person-in-environment and to develop competencies and practice behaviors to effect change. Individual distress is seen in a social context, influenced by biological, economic, familial, political, psychological, and social factors. This perspective recognizes that economic, organizational, political, and social factors shape the work of social welfare professionals. Effective helping requires a broad understanding of possible responses, ranging from short-term strategies for gaining new resources and skills to long-term social and psychological interventions. The professional must be aware of and able to act within the web of relationships that link individual well-being with wider social and political forces to achieve social and economic justice.

To achieve these goals, students develop the following core competencies:

  • Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.
  • Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
  • Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.
  • Engage diversity and difference in practice.
  • Advance human rights and social and economic justice.
  • Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.
  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.
  • Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.
  • Respond to contexts that shape practice.
  • Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

To facilitate the development of these core competencies and the knowledge and behavior to practice at an advanced level, the School’s program is organized into a Core curriculum and an elective concentration in either clinical practice or social administration. All students have a core field placement in their first year and a concentration placement in their second year. No academic credit is awarded for life or work experience.

Year One

The Core Curriculum

The Core curriculum is central to the educational program at the master’s level. It brings together all students, whatever their career interests, for a solid introduction to the fundamentals of social policy formulation and program implementation, social research, and direct practice. The Core curriculum prepares students for generalist practice through mastery of the core competencies of the profession as articulated by the Council on Social Work Education. It places particular emphasis on understanding and working with culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged populations. After completing Core studies in the first year, students who choose clinical practice begin their concentration with an established awareness of the broader contexts of individual distress and helping responses, while social administration students enter their concentration with a corresponding understanding of social work intervention at the direct practice level.

Required courses in the first two quarters of the first year provide students with a common foundation of knowledge concerning social welfare issues, human development, direct practice intervention strategies, and social research and practice behaviors related to these areas of knowledge. This foundation provides the background for concentration in advanced practice in clinical work or in social administration. Fieldwork placements in the first year are continuous for three quarters. They provide direct practice experience with distressed people and the institutions established to help them.

Core curriculum courses are distributed in the following manner for students in the day program:

Autumn Winter Spring
SSAD 30000 SSAD 30000 Concentration or Elective
SSAD 30100 SSAD 30100 Concentration or Elective
SSAD 32700 SSAD 30200 Concentration or Elective
Fieldwork Fieldwork Fieldwork

Social Intervention: Programs and Policies (30000). This two-quarter course introduces students to the issues and problems associated with social welfare interventions at the community, agency, and policy levels. Students are expected to learn and develop competencies in analyzing the components of current policies, designing programmatic alternatives, anticipating substantive, operational, and political advantages and disadvantages, weighing benefits against financial costs, and making sound choices among imperfect alternatives. While focusing on public policies, the course will include consideration of the impact of policies and programs on individuals and families. The course will give students a thorough grounding in several critical areas of social work practice, including poverty and at least two social service areas such as mental health and child welfare.

Social Intervention: Direct Practice (30100). This two-quarter course emphasizes the design and practice of social work interventions at the individual, family, and group levels. Students are introduced to the values, theories, concepts, skills, and empirical evidence that form the base for direct social work practice and develop competencies related to this area of practice. Complementing 30000, material is presented to examine needs, resources, and potential for change at the individual, family, and group levels, as well as to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of various options for intervention. Students will develop skills in identifying and defining problems, implementing and refining intervention strategies, evaluating the impact of clinical interventions, and weighing the ethical considerations of various choices. Particular attention is given to developing intervention approaches for working with underserved groups.

Social Intervention: Research and Evaluation (30200). This course focuses on the generation, analysis, and use of data and information relevant to decision making at the case, program, and policy levels. Students learn competencies and develop practice behaviors related to the collection, analysis, and use of data related to fundamental aspects of social work practice: problem assessment and definition; intervention formulation, implementation, and refinement; and evaluation. The course covers specification and measurement of various practice and social science concepts, sampling methods, data collection strategies, and statistical and graphical approaches to data analysis. All incoming day students will take a research placement exam to determine their research course. Students who pass the exam will be eligible to take a concentration research course in the first year, either clinical research (44501) or data analysis (48500).

Human Behavior and the Social Environment (32700). This course teaches biological and social science concepts concerning human development that are fundamental to social work practice: social and ecological systems; life course development; culture, ethnicity, and gender; stress, coping, and adaptation; and social issues related to development over the life course. It prepares students to use these conceptual frameworks to guide the process of assessment, intervention, and evaluation; and to critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment. Students with extensive background in the socio-cultural, socio-economic, psychological, and cognitive contexts of human growth and behavior, may waive into an advanced course.

Human Diversity Requirement

Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersection of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation, as well as privilege, power, and acclaim.

In keeping with the School’s mission and the commitment to educate students for practice in a heterogeneous society, curriculum content on human diversity is integrated into nearly every course. In addition, students must take one or more courses from a list of approved first- and second-year offerings. The requirement in human diversity is intended to provide students with an analytical framework to understand human behavior and political processes in the environment of a diverse society to satisfy the following five goals:

  • To promote respect for ethnic and cultural diversity as an integral part of social work’s commitment to preserve human dignity.
  • To foster knowledge and understanding of individuals, families, and communities in their socio-cultural and socio-economic contexts.
  • To analyze the ethnic and political issues related to the patterns, dynamics, and consequences of discrimination and oppression.
  • To develop skills to promote individual and social change toward social and economic justice.
  • To provide students a theoretical framework for integrating an approach toward diversity within students’ own particular area of expertise (e.g., clinical, community, organization, management).

Each year students will be provided a list of courses that meet the diversity requirement. Students who would like to substitute a course must obtain a copy of the syllabus for that course, and submit a written memo to the Dean of Students explaining why that course will meet the goals provided by the diversity requirement. Because the diversity requirement is intended to give students an analytical framework with which to integrate questions of diversity within their education at SSA, and to enhance the development of practice behaviors for work with diversity and difference in practice, no waivers of this course are considered. Approved courses in human diversity for the 2017–2018 academic year are listed below.

41212 Intersectional Approaches to Social Work with LGBTQIA Individuals and Communities
43300 The Exceptional Child
44122 Self Awareness and Social Work with Diverse Populations
44401 Sexuality across the Life Cycle
44712 Queer Theory in Social Work Practice
44800 Urban Adolescents in Their Families, Communities, and Schools: Issues for Research and Policy
45112 Contemporary Immigration Policy and Practice
45522 Creating a Context for Unity and Reconciliation in Global Post-Conflict Settings
46312 Race, Crime, and Justice in the City
46922 Structuring Refuge: U.S. Refugee Policy and Resettlement Practice
47232 Promoting the Social and Academic Development of Children in Urban Schools
47452 Smart Decarceration: A Grand Challenge for Social Work
47512 The U.S. Health Care System
47722 Structural Social Work Practice and the Mexican Experience in Chicago
47812 Human Rights and Social Work: Opportunities for Policy and Practice
48300 Theories and Strategies of Community Change
48422 Difference and Inclusion
60100 Drugs: Culture and Context
60200 Spirituality and Social Work Practice
60400 Poverty, Inequality, and the Welfare State
61212 Perspectives in Aging
61400 Social Meaning of Race
61912 Policing, Citizenship, and Inequality in Comparative Perspective
62022 Trans*forming Social Work
62912 Global Development and Social Welfare
63300 International Perspectives on Social Policy and Social Work Practice
63412 Cultural Studies in Education
64400 Spanish Language and Culture for Social Workers
65712 Immigration, Law, and Society
65800 Adoption, Fosterage, Culture, and Context

Year Two

The Concentration Curriculum

The master’s curriculum provides the opportunity for developing knowledge and practice behaviors for advanced practice in two major areas of social work and social welfare: clinical social work and social administration. Students begin taking courses in their concentrations in Spring quarter of their first year. The clinical practice curriculum includes required and elective courses designed to develop competencies and practice behaviors for direct social work practice, which encompass a broad range of psychosocial services for a variety of problems. Students may choose to specialize in a specific area of practice (e.g., health, mental health, family and child welfare) or with a specific target population (e.g., children). The social administration curriculum is designed to develop competencies and practice behaviors for social work in community organizations, management, advocacy, planning, policy development and implementation, and evaluation. Within the social administration concentration, students can specialize by taking several courses in one area: Community Organizing, Planning, and Development; Organizations and Management; or Policy Planning, Analysis, and Advocacy.

Clinical Practice Concentration

The clinical concentration prepares students for advanced practice with individuals, families, and small groups. The program asks students to think critically about different theoretical systems, research findings, and practice methods. Students learn how to monitor progress and evaluate outcomes of interventions and how to determine which approaches are most effective. A defining feature of the program is the focus on the social, cultural, political, and economic contexts of vulnerability and need. Students are led to explore the organizational contexts of intervention. Advocacy is crucial, and courses consider the social worker’s role in helping organizations, communities, and society become more responsive to human needs. Direct practitioners serve a variety of roles in a wide range of settings, and graduates assume supervisory, management, and consulting responsibilities.

Required Courses

Students who elect the concentration in clinical practice take the following courses:

  1. A two-quarter course sequence in one practice method, one course emphasizing conceptual foundations and the other course emphasizing applications. Practice methods sequences include cognitive-behavioral, family systems, and psychodynamic. While it is strongly recommended that students take the conceptual foundations course before an applications course in cognitive-behavioral and family systems perspectives, it is required for the psychodynamic sequence.
     
  2. A one-quarter course in a second practice method. Again, it is recommended that this course be a foundations course if choosing cognitive-behavioral or family systems perspectives; it must be the foundations course if choosing the psychodynamic perspective. Alternatively Comparative Perspectives in Social Work Practice (42401) or Knowledge and Skills for Effective Group Work Practice (62322) can also be taken to fulfill the one-quarter course requirement.
     
  3. One research class: 44501 Clinical Research or another research course if the 44501 course was taken in the first year.
     
  4. One advanced human behavior in the social environment (HBSE) course.
     
  5. A clinical field placement intended to provide students with an opportunity to develop, apply, and test practice knowledge and learn practice behaviors by working under the guidance of a supervisor in a clinical practice setting. Field instruction involves a minimum of 640 hours, usually 24 hours a week.
     

I. Intervention Theories and Practice Methods

Clinical practice students are required to take a two-quarter course sequence in one practice method (one course emphasizing conceptual foundations and the other course emphasizing applications) and at least one additional course in a different practice method. Practice methods include cognitive-behavioral, family systems, and psychodynamic perspectives. While it is strongly recommended that students take a conceptual foundations course before an applications course in cognitive-behavioral and family systems methods, it is required for the psychodynamic sequence. In any case, a foundation course must always be part of the two-course methods sequence chosen. Conceptual foundations courses are listed below in bold.

1. Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches

40403 Fundamentals of Behavioral Therapy: Contemporary Approaches  

40404 Cognitive and Behavioral Approaches: Children and Families *

40922 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Theory and Practice *

43800 Skills for Conducting Psychotherapy with Chronically Distressed Persons

61812 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Vulnerable Populations

63700 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

2. Family Systems Approaches

40800 Family Systems Approaches to Practice

40212 Couples Therapy

41700 Clinical Treatment of Abusive Family Systems

60612 Systemic Family Interventions for Specific Populations

3. Psychodynamic Approaches

41000 Psychodynamic Practice Methods I

41100 Psychodynamic Practice Methods II

42800 Clinical Intervention with Socially Vulnerable Clients

A one-quarter course in Comparative Perspectives in Social Work Practice (42401), The Practice of Group Work (41500), or Knowledge and Skills for Effective Group Work Practice (62322) can also be taken to fulfill the one-quarter course requirement.

* Can count as either conceptual foundations or an applications course
 

II. Advanced Clinical Research

44501 Clinical Research: Using Evidence in Clinical Decision-Making

If 44501 was completed in the first year, students must select a second research course. 2017-2018 examples include:

43412 Qualitative Inquiry and Research

45032 Participatory Research: Exploration and Application of Action Research Models for Social Work Practice

45600 Policy Analysis: Methods and Applications

46412 The Evaluation of Social Welfare Programs and Policies

48500 Data for Policy Analysis and Management

62400 Community Ethnography

63800 Program Evaluation in International Settings

64600 Quality Monitoring and Improvement for the Social Services

III. Advanced HBSE


41900 Treatment of Adolescents: A Contextual Perspective

42100 Aging and Mental Health

42322 Child and Adolescent Substance Use

42500 Adult Psychopathology

42600 Diagnosing Mental Disorders in Children and Adolescents

43300 The Exceptional Child

44401 Sexuality across the Life Cycle

44712 Queer Theory in Social Work Practice

44800 Urban Adolescents in their Families, Communities, and Schools: Issues for Research and Policy

47232 Promoting the Social and Academic Development of Children in Urban Schools

49332 Dying, Death, and End of Life Care

60100 Drugs: Culture and Context

61212 Perspectives on Aging

Electives

Students have the opportunity to take elective courses in areas of interest. Courses may be selected from the curriculum offerings on particular fields of practice, theories of behavior, treatment modalities, social problems, target populations, or research methods, or from courses in the social administration concentration. Bridging courses—those courses likely to be of interest to both clinical and social administration students—bear on issues of supervision, management, and understanding organizational dynamics. Students also have the opportunity to gain interdisciplinary perspectives by taking courses in other graduate programs and professional schools of the University.

Areas of Special Interest

Students are expected to tailor their coursework to prepare for career interests and their individual learning goals. This can be organized around work with a particular client population or field of practice. Courses in the curriculum naturally cluster around populations and problems. Building on the Core competencies and practice behaviors and the required concentration courses, students can shape their course of study around areas of practice.

Social Administration Concentration

The social administration concentration prepares students for professional practice in community organizing, planning, and development; human services management; and policy planning, analysis, and advocacy. Students are prepared for positions in federal, state, county, and municipal government; private non-profit and for-profit organizations; public policy research and advocacy organizations; community-based organizations and action groups; and electoral politics at all levels of government. The social administration concentration provides students with advanced instruction in the economics, politics, and organization of social welfare. It enables students to develop competencies and the analytical and research skills needed to advocate for client groups and communities, and to plan, implement, and evaluate programs and policies at various levels of intervention.

Requirements

Students who elect the concentration in social administration take the following courses:

45400 Economics for Social Welfare

46712 Organizational Theory and Analysis for Human Services

46800 Political Processes in Policy Formulation and Implementation

48500 Data for Policy Analysis and Management

Field Placement. The field placement enables students to develop competencies and practice behaviors related to social work in human service organizations. Students will develop a broad view of a social welfare problem and engage in advanced practice behaviors to respond to that problem.

Clusters and Elective Courses

In addition to the required courses listed above, the social administration concentration offers several other courses organized within three clusters: Community Organizing, Planning, and Development; Non-Profit Management; and Policy Planning, Analysis, and Advocacy. In choosing electives, students are strongly encouraged to focus their study by selecting the recommended courses from one of the clusters. In addition, students can participate in a Program of Study.

Community Organizing, Planning, and Development

This sequence of recommended courses provides the conceptual and substantive knowledge base and practice behaviors underlying professional practice in community organizing, planning, and development. Traditionally, the field of community organization has encompassed distinct modes or strategies of intervention—social planning, social action, and community development—by which professionals help community groups engage in purposive, collective change. More recently, such groups have sought to draw from multiple traditions and to build community across a number of boundaries to enhance the effectiveness of community responses to contemporary social welfare challenges. The goals of the Community Organizing, Planning, and Development cluster are:

  • To introduce students to the important theories of community organization and change, so that students can assess the role and prospects for success of community-level interventions.
  • To instruct students in the major traditions of community intervention and to investigate the potential value of those traditions in confronting contemporary problems.
  • To familiarize students with the broader political, economic, and spatial environments within which urban and community action takes place.
  • To develop analytical abilities in strategic decision-making so that students may engage successfully in different modes of community intervention.
  • To develop the critical skills to evaluate the effectiveness of various strategies, actions, and programs.

These goals are realized through coursework and field placements, as well as student initiated activities and other program offerings. SSA faculty recommend that cluster students first take the Core community course (48300), followed by at least one course in each of the two subsequent areas.

Community Core

48300 Theories and Strategies of Community Change

Community and Context

48200 Political Economy of Urban Development

49822 Community Organization: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Challenges

47622 Community Development in International Perspective

Selected Strategies

45312 Urban Social Movements

47622 Community Development in International Perspective

48112 Community Organizing

64700 Organizing Coalitions for Change: Growing Power and Social Movements

Organizations and Management

This sequence of recommended courses teaches students analytic approaches and practice behaviors for enhancing the effectiveness of human service organizations serving disadvantaged populations. The goals of the Management cluster are:

  • To familiarize students with the theories and analytical frameworks useful for developing and implementing effective organizational policies and practices.
  • To instruct students in strategies that can enable human service organizations to respond effectively to external threats and opportunities.
  • To help students develop competencies in modern management methods, such as staff supervision and development, negotiation, participatory decision-making, organizational development, and agency budgeting.

SSA Faculty recommend that students choosing the Organizations and Management cluster take three or more Cluster courses and one or more Context courses.  The following courses will be offered in 2017-2018:

CLUSTER

65600  Special Issues in Health Care Management: Health Systems Transformation

47300  Strategic Management: External Factors

49600  Financial Management for Non-profit Organizations

62600  Philanthropy, Public Policy, and Community Change

46412  The Evaluation of Social Welfare Programs and Policies

64600  Quality Monitoring and Improvement for the Social Services

CONTEXT

60312  Inequality at Work

61500  Urban Education and Educational Policy

47512  The U.S. Health Care System

48112  Community Organizing

64700  Organizing Coalitions for Change: Growing Power and Social Movements

46922  Structuring Refuge: U.S. Refugee Policy and Resettlement Practice

Policy Planning, Analysis, and Advocacy

This sequence of recommended courses teaches students the conceptual and technical knowledge and practice behaviors underlying policy planning, analysis, and evaluation in social welfare. The goals of the Policy cluster are:

  • To instruct students in modes of analyzing social welfare policies systematically through the construction and use of formal conceptual policy design frameworks, empirical evidence, and policy arguments.
  • To assist students in learning the analytical and quantitative skills of cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis, decision analysis, causal modeling, survey research, and field experimentation.
  • To deepen students’ understanding of the political and ethical dilemmas that accompany most policy-making and evaluation problems in social welfare.

Foundation course

45600 Policy Analysis: Methods and Applications

One substantive elective from the list below

42912 Work and Family Policy: Policy Considerations for Family Support

44800 Urban Adolescents in Their Families, Communities, and Schools: Issues for Research and Policy

45112 Contemporary Immigration Policy and Practice

46412 The Evaluation of Social Welfare Programs and Policies

46622 Key Issues in Health Care: An Interdisciplinary Case Studies Approach

47232 Promoting the Social and Academic Development of Children in Urban Schools

47512 The U.S. Health Care System

48800 Child and Family Policy

49032 Health and Aging Policy

49412 Non-profit Organizations and Advocacy for Social Change

60312 Inequality at Work

60400 Poverty, Inequality, and the Welfare State

61100 Seminar in Violence Prevention

Field Placement

Field instruction is an integral component of social work education. Its purpose is to provide students with an opportunity to apply and integrate knowledge, values, and skills learned in the classroom and in the practice setting. Through the field experience, students develop professional social work competencies to help those in need and to bring about effective social change. Students are challenged to prepare for positions of leadership and agents of change while working within the realities and contexts of field placement agencies.

Students participate in a Field Learning Seminar to further the integration of theory and practice as part of their field requirement. Field learning seminars meet eight times during the academic year. 

The primary model of field instruction is a concurrent model, meaning students take classes and complete the field placement at the same time.

Core (First Year placement)

In the first year, fieldwork is integrated with Core and elective courses to provide direct practice experience with people in need and the institutions established to provide service. Students develop beginning competence in direct social work practice through experience in engagement, assessment, intervention, and reflection.

  • Full-time students attend their internship for two days per week (16 hours) and complete 480 hours during the academic year.
  • Students in the Part-time Day Program begin field placements in the second year. Part-time Day students attend their first internship two days a week (16 hours) and complete 480 hours during the academic year.

Toward the end of Winter quarter, students make selections for second-year field placements. Students interview for their concentration placement during Winter and Spring quarter of their first year.

Concentration Field Placement (second placement)

Second-year field placements match the student’s choice of concentration, either in a clinical practice setting or a social administration placement. All students complete the core field placement requirement before beginning the second year field placement.

Day students in the clinical concentration are in the field three days a week for a total of 640 hours; social administration students are in the field 2-3 days a week for a total of 496 hours.

NOTE

Increasing numbers of field placements require proof of immunizations, criminal history checks, and/or drug testing prior to beginning work at the agency. Results of criminal history checks and/or drug testing may impact placement availability as well as ability to obtain a social work license in the future. Applicants to SSA programs should familiarize themselves with professional licensing statues. Once admitted, it is the students’ responsibility to ask their field instructors about prerequisite requirements before beginning the practicum. The Office of Field Education may be consulted as needed.

Programs of Study

Special programs are designated areas within the SSA curriculum that allow students to tailor their degree program to their professional interests. By using electives in the degree program to meet requirements of a Program of Study, students build a curriculum that uniquely addresses their interests and prepares them for work in a particular area of social work.

Each of the Programs has prescribed requirements, either required courses or sets of courses from which students may choose. Importantly, each program combines coursework with a related field experience to allow students to connect their theoretical learning with the development of competencies in a particular area of practice.

Advanced AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse) Counselor Training Program

SSA has an Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association (IAODAPCA) Accredited Advanced AODA Counselor Training Program (ATP). The goals of this program are:

  • To prepare students to develop competencies and practice behaviors required by people currently experiencing, or at risk of having, problems with alcohol and other drugs.
  • To prepare students to provide services in addictions treatment settings and in non-addictions settings.
  • To introduce students to a range of approaches to treatment of substance use problems.
  • To introduce students to substance use problems in specific populations such as individuals with dual disorders, older adults, women, and adolescents.

Required Courses:

40012 Clinical Interventions in Substance Use Disorders

42001 Substance Use Practice

42322 Child and Adolescent Substance Use

Recommended Course:

42500 Adult Psychopathology

Requirements for students in this program include three courses and a field placement that addresses substance use issues.

Students interested in IAODAPCA certification will be required to complete a second-year field placement at a program with an Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA) approved addictions program in which at least half of their time is spent addressing substance use issues.

Family Support Program

To meet the growing national need for preventive and community-oriented services for families, SSA created a program in Family Support. The knowledge base is interdisciplinary, drawing primarily from social and biological science theories and research as well as practice theories and research. Core values include an ecological orientation, a focus on prevention of problems and promotion of desirable outcomes, and a commitment to strength-based partnerships between professionals, participants, and other stakeholders. Basic skills for family support reflect the full range of social work services: individual, family, group, organization, community, administration, and policy work. Family support also draws on a broad range of specialized skills, including program design, implementation, and evaluation, formation and facilitation of groups; home visiting; community building; and inter-agency collaboration.

Students interested in Family Support can be either in the clinical or in the social administration concentration and have a placement in an agency that practices family support principles. In addition, all students take two courses in Family Support. Family Support Principles, Practice, and Program Development (42700) explores the theoretical principles and values underlying family support. Students can take Work and Family Policy: Policy Considerations for Family Support (42912) or Child and Family Policy (48800) based on which class is being taught that year. Students who specialize in family support choose an internship specifically designed for this program.

The Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy

The Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP) is unique among health administration programs in the United States. GPHAP allows students to earn either a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy or a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy with a Concentration in Global Health, while earning a degree in one of the participating graduate schools on campus: the Booth School of Business, the Harris School of Public Policy, the Law School, the Pritzker School of Medicine, or SSA. GPHAP is an interdisciplinary program that draws faculty and students with a variety of perspectives on health care from across the University. Building upon the Core training provided by the participating professional schools, GPHAP prepares leaders in health administration and policy by providing students with coursework and practical experience in the health care field. Through field placements or internships, students apply theoretical and analytical tools in a practical setting. All students must fulfill the Core requirements of their respective schools, required courses for either of the GPHAP certificate programs, a practicum, and co-curricular activities. The GPHAP courses count toward the student's master's degree. There is no extra charge to participate in GPHAP. Students apply for this program of study in September of the year they are entering SSA.

GPHAP Certificate Program

GPHAP focuses on the U.S. healthcare system and allows students to choose a course of study in health service administration that closely matches their interests and career plans to developments in this expanding field. For more detailed program information, please visit http://www.ssa.uchicago.edu/gphap.

Global Health Certificate Program

Students today are interested in addressing issues that cross national borders, including global health. To address this need, SSA’s Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP), the Center for Global Health (CGH), and the Pritzker School of Medicine (PSOM) have collaborated to develop a new Global Health Certificate Program at SSA. This new program will address issues in global health from the perspective of a variety of disciplines, including business, law, economics, public policy, social work, and socio-cultural studies. The program began accepting students during the Fall of 2012. For more detailed program information, please visit http://www.ssa.uchicago.edu/global-health-certificate-program.

The link to the GPHAP application is: https://myssa.uchicago.edu/gphap/

For questions or to discuss the program, feel free to contact the program director, Laura Botwinick, at lbotwinick@uchicago.edu.

Global Social Development Practice Program of Study

International perspectives on social welfare are crucial to SSA’s leadership role in social policy and social work. Below are the ways in which students can participate in the Global Social Development Practice Program of Study.

Study Abroad

Students can participate in an intensive, four week, study-abroad program focused on urban poverty and community practice in India:

In collaboration with the Tata Institute of the Social Sciences Centre for Community Organization and Development Practice in Mumbai, SSA students have the opportunity to learn about key issues in international social welfare and gain academic and field experience in international social work practice. The program is open to students in the clinical or social administration concentration. There is an application process in Spring quarter for interested students. This program includes students and faculty from the Tata Institute.

Or, students can participate an intensive, two-week, study-abroad program focused on urbanization, migration, and poverty in Hong Kong and Mainland China:

In collaboration with the Department of Applied Social Sciences at Hong Kong Polytechnic and the Department of Sociology at Peking University, SSA students have the opportunity to learn about key issues concerning the nature, contributing factors, and state and community responses to poverty, migration, and urbanization in the context of globalization. This program takes place in Hong Kong and mainland China, including Guangzhou in the east and Kunming, located in Yunnan Province in western China. The program is open to all University of Chicago master’s level students from SSA. There is an application process for interested students in the Spring quarter. This program includes students and faculty from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Peking University and is offered for two weeks in December.

Coursework at SSA

We currently offer courses which focus on international social work and social welfare, cross-national comparative perspectives, or implications that global processes may have on social work practice. Courses available at SSA in 2017-2018 include:

45112 Contemporary Immigration Policy and Practice

45312 Urban Social Movements

45522 Creating a Context for Unity and Reconciliation in Global Post-Conflict Settings

46922 Structuring Refuge: U.S. Refugee Policy and Resettlement Practice

47622 Community Development in International Perspective

47722 Structural Social Work Practice and the Mexican Experience in Chicago

47812 Human Rights and Social Work: Opportunities for Policy and Practice

61912 Policing, Citizenship, and Inequality in Comparative Perspective

62912 Global Development and Social Welfare

63300 International Perspectives on Social Policy and Social Work Practice

63800 Program Evaluation in International Settings

65800 Adoption, Fosterage, Culture, and Context

Additional courses are available at other units of the University including the Booth School of Business, the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, the Harris School of Public Policy, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the Law School. Check individual unit schedules for courses and times.

Global Social Development Practice Certificate Program:

The Objective of The Certificate in Global Social Development Practice (GSDP) is to identify and recruit well qualified candidates who are committed to assume leadership in the development and provision of policies, programs, and practices that address problems in the international social development arena. These include careers in international, national, state, and local social welfare and human service agencies and social development organizations; government; international policy, research, and advocacy organizations; and firms and non-profit organizations that engage in global social development initiatives.

Older Adult Studies Program

To advance the preparation of geriatric social workers and to strengthen the quality of care given to a growing older population, SSA developed an Older Adult Studies program. Social workers bring a unique, multi-faceted perspective to working with older adults. Their education develops the capacity to respond to an older person’s need for support and intervention in multiple domains. Social workers bring an understanding of an older person’s strengths and resiliency as well as strong assessment, problem-solving, and advocacy skills. This program combines an understanding of the person-in-environment as well as an awareness of the web of institutional relationships linking the older adult to society and social policy. Students will learn competencies and develop practice behaviors to provide services and shape programs and policies dealing with older adults.

Students interested in working with older adults take either the clinical or social administration concentration, two required courses, and a placement in which they work with older adults. Students take Health and Aging Policy (49032) and a choice of Aging and Mental Health (42100) or Perspectives on Aging (61212) or Current Topics in Long Term Care and Aging: Systems of Care for Older Adults (65212). We offer a rotation model for field learning which provides the student maximum exposure to the aging person and the services and systems designed to support older people and their families.

Program on Poverty and Inequality

Poverty and inequality create enormous challenges for contemporary modern societies. In the United States, despite more than a century of social welfare efforts—public and private—these conditions continue to present fundamental problems to our society and polity. This program offers students professional training to take up problems of poverty and inequality in their professional careers. It provides the basic knowledge and skills needed to prepare social workers to engage in efforts to alleviate poverty and inequality as program managers, policy analysts, and community advocates. The program exposes students to issues regarding poverty and inequality both in the United States and in international settings.

Clincial or Administrative students selecting this program take two foundation courses, one addressing poverty, Poverty, Inequality, and the Welfare State (60400), and the other addressing workforce issues, Inequality at Work (60312). Students in the program can select electives drawn from a variety of courses offered at SSA and in other parts of the University.

School-Based Programs

School Social Work Licensure (formerly Type 73 Certification)

The School Social Work program provides students with the knowledge, skills, values, and experience needed to develop competencies, dispositions, and practice behaviors for licensure as school social workers through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Through the combination of coursework and fieldwork, students in the school social work program are provided a specialized curriculum that will enable them to become effective practitioners within the context of the public school system.

In addition to the requirements of the clinical practice concentration, students in the school social work program are required to take two courses specifically designed for their specialization. Students are required to take Public School Systems and Service Populations (41600), and The Exceptional Child (43300). The course Public School Systems and Service Populations (41600) is designed to familiarize students with the origin and history of school social work, the organization of American public schools, the current role of the social worker in a variety of public school settings, and the populations served by school social workers. The course on exceptional children examines the implementation of special education mandates and the range of disabilities that impact children in educational settings, while addressing the characteristics of those disabilities, the struggles children face as a result of them and the provision of services related to advancing success in school for children with such disabilities.

In addition to the two required courses above, students select one of the following courses: Urban Adolescents in Their Families, Communities, and Schools: Issues for Research and Policy (44800); Promoting the Social and Academic Development of Children in Urban Schools (47232); or Cultural Studies in Education (63412). Students interested in applying to the School Social Work program need to pass the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) administered by the ISBE or present evidence of qualifying scores on the ACT or SAT tests, including writing subtests, before being accepted into the School Social Work Program of Study. For more information regarding licensure and testing requirements, please see http://www.isbe.net/Pages/PEL-School-Support-Ed-Lic.aspx. Once accepted into the program, but prior to completing their studies, students must also take and pass the School Social Worker Content Area Exam, also administered by ISBE.

Leadership in Community Schools Program

The Leadership in Community Schools program prepares social workers for new roles in schools. Community school leaders work on many levels within a school, developing effective after school and youth development programs, fostering effective school-community partnerships, and developing effective school communities that promote the physical and mental health, emotional and social development, and educational development of youth. The Leadership in Community Schools program builds on and links to our programs in community development and family support, but adds a substantive focus on education.

Students interested in community schools take the social administration concentration and have a second year placement in a community school or agency. Students also choose two of the following courses: Urban Adolescents in their Families, Communities and Schools: Issues for Research and Policy (44800), Promoting the Social and Academic Development of Children in Urban Schools (47232), or Cultural Studies in Education (63412). In addition, students are encouraged to select from a range of courses in community development, management, family support, and treatment of children and adolescents. Public School Systems and Service Populations (41600) is an optional course that students may take as one of the choices. The course is designed to acquaint students with: the organization of the public schools, implementation of special education mandates, services to culturally and economically diverse populations, how to recognize elements of an effective school, and the role of the social worker in a variety of public school settings.

Violence Prevention

While the social work profession, as well as allied professions, have traditionally responded to interpersonal violence after the fact, violence prevention continues to grow rapidly as a discernible and distinct set of programs and intervention strategies, and as a field with developing policy initiatives and implications. The field of violence prevention therefore increasingly requires professionals with the intellectual and skill set training to address the problem of interpersonal violence proactively and strategically.

Students interested in the Violence Prevention Program can take the clinical or social administration concentration. They will have a second year placement focused on violence prevention and will take Seminar in Violence Prevention (61100). In addition, students will take a relevant elective from the following list: Clinical Treatment of Abusive Family Systems (41700), Practicing with Integrity in Trauma-Informed Care (64912), Child and Adolescent Trauma (60800), or Crime Prevention (63200). Students can also select an elective from other parts of the University.

Other Enrollment Options

Extended Evening Program

The School of Social Service Administration offers a three-year Extended Evening Program (EEP) to meet the educational needs of working adults. The program enables students to complete the Master of Arts degree requirements by attending classes part-time in the evenings during three years of continuous enrollment. EEP requires the same number of hours and credits in class and fieldwork as the Full-time Program.

Required courses are scheduled from 5:30 to 8:20 p.m., two evenings a week. It is especially important for EEP students to take the required concentration courses in the specified sequence, since most of these courses are offered in the evening on an every-other-year basis. Because of scheduling constraints, students in the EEP do not have as full a selection of courses as students in the day program. To take advantage of alternative course offerings, EEP students are encouraged to arrange their work schedules so that they can take some of the daytime courses at SSA and other units of the University.

EEP students complete two field placements. First-year students are required to complete 400 hours. Students are in the field for one full day or two half days per week (Monday-Friday) consecutively for 12 months. All students must successfully complete the Core field placement requirement before registering for Winter quarter of their second year.

The second field placement is compatible with the student’s advanced academic concentration. Students in the clinical practicum complete 720 hours, which requires a commitment of 9 hours per week in field. Students in the social administration concentration complete a minimum of 576 hours in field. Social Administration students are in placement one full or two half days each week. Advanced placement typically begins in October of the second year, continues through the summer, and concludes at the end of the third academic year. Students are encouraged to talk with their employers about the necessity of having some flexibility in their weekday schedules while in school. Students working in qualified agencies may be able to arrange one of the two field placements at their places of employment. The School will consider placing students in their agency of employment for first year Core or second year Concentration field placements provided certain safeguards can be established to ensure that the educational quality of the experience is not compromised.

Increasing numbers of field placements require background checks, proof of immunizations, and/or drug testing prior to beginning work at the agency. The Field Education Office informs students of these requirements before beginning the practicum.

Financial aid and student loans are available for part-time study based on a combination of merit and need. Please review the Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid section.

Part-time Day Program

Students in the Part-time Day Program take two courses each quarter over three years. Core courses are completed during the first year, except for the Core practice course, which is postponed until the second year along with the first field placement. Students in the Part-time Day Program complete two field placements on the same schedule as full-time students over a two-year academic calendar, which for these part-time students, are in years two and three.

15-Month Accelerated Program

The 15-month program is designed for exceptional students who have graduated from an accredited baccalaureate social work program within the past five years. Enrollment in the Accelerated Master’s Degree Program begins in Spring quarter. Accelerated students register for four quarters of full-time study in their chosen concentration, which includes 12 advanced courses and 700 hours of field placement. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in SSA’s advanced curricular options.

AB/AM Program for Students in the College

Qualified University of Chicago College students who wish to pursue a joint AM degree in social work at the School of Social Service Administration should consult with the AB/AM advisor in the College and with the Director of Admissions at SSA as soon as their second year, but no later than early in their third year. They are expected to have a GPA of 3.25 or higher and have completed both their general education requirements and the requirements for their College major by the end of the third year.

AB/AM students take nine courses in their fourth College year: seven SSA Core courses and two electives. Students will also complete two field placements: one in the first year (College year four) and one in the second year of joint residence. The nine graduate-level courses together with fieldwork constitute a demanding curriculum; therefore, students are encouraged to complete their AB projects before beginning their graduate coursework.

AB/AM students enter joint residence status during the three quarters prior to the anticipated date of College graduation, during which time they will be charged tuition at SSA’s graduate rates.

Joint Degree Programs

SSA offers several opportunities for students to combine professional degrees to create a unique multi-faceted program. These joint or dual degree programs link professional study in two complementary realms of expertise to provide the student with multiple tools and approaches to address the issues of social change. There are many practical advantages to the combined degree programs, including an interdisciplinary exploration of a field of interest and a wider range of career choices upon graduation. Generally, the combined degree programs allow students to fulfill the requirements of both degree programs in one year less than if pursued separately. Joint degree programs are available between SSA and the Booth School of Business, the Harris School of Public Policy, and the Divinity School. Dual degrees are also available between SSA and the Hyde Park Cluster of Theological Schools.

Doctoral Degree Program

Since 1920, the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration has provided training for those interested in pursuing an academic career in social work and social welfare. SSA’s doctoral graduates are leaders in the field of social work and social welfare scholarship. The program is designed to deepen students’ mastery of both social science theory and research methods so that they are prepared to contribute to scholarly knowledge in innovative ways. The program accommodates students who are interested in developing and evaluating practice methods and interventions, as well as those interested in understanding social problems and accompanying institutional and political responses. The diverse theoretical approaches of SSA’s faculty make it uniquely positioned to support an interdisciplinary course of study.

Curriculum

The Doctoral Program is flexibly structured so that students can pursue a curriculum matched to their individual interests. The curriculum is designed to ensure expertise in social science theory, research methods, and a substantive area of specialization. In consultation with a faculty advisor, each student develops a program of study that includes coursework, a qualifying examination, a pre-dissertation research project, and dissertation research. Doctoral students also have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty in their research and to serve as teaching assistants or instructors.

The School offers courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods. In addition courses explore the theoretical underpinnings of social work scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and levels of analysis, including economic and political processes, human service organizations, social structures and social inequality, communities, culture, life course development, and individual psychological change processes. As an integral part of a major research university, the Doctoral Program at SSA enjoys full access to a rich array of course offerings within the University of Chicago. SSA students take courses in such departments as Anthropology, Economics, Human Development, Political Science and Sociology and in the professional schools of Business, Medicine, Law, and Public Policy. The Traveling Scholar Program enables doctoral-level students to take advantage of educational opportunities at other Big Ten Academic Alliance universities (http://www.btaa.org/home) without change in registration or increase in tuition.

Combined PhD/AM

The School has a combined PhD/AM program for a small number of students admitted into the doctoral program who do not already have a master’s in social work or a related field, but who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to interventions with vulnerable populations or social welfare policy research. Most students admitted into the doctoral program already have a master’s degree in social work. The PhD/AM program has blended requirements that allow some doctoral courses to be applied toward the master’s degree. Participation in the combined program typically adds a year to the length of doctoral studies and includes a field placement.

Supports for Students

Students in the doctoral program receive a stipend and full tuition and fees for up to 5 years. All admitted students are eligible to receive an $25,000 stipend each year in years 1 to 5. To qualify for this financial aid, students must:

  1. maintain satisfactory progress, AND
  2. limit any outside, paid employment to 15 hours a week.

In addition, students with stipends in their first and second year will be expected to work as a research assistant with an SSA faculty member for 10 to 12 hours a week; students in years 3, 4, and 5 can fulfill this work requirement through teaching and/or research. The School pays 82 percent of tuition during years 6 through 10.

Students may also apply for three years of summer support (for $3,000 per summer), contingent on student submission of a summer work plan to pursue continued doctoral study activity.

To help ensure that they get the support needed to develop a customized program of study, all students work closely with an advisor. Students meet with advisors when selecting courses, but also once a year to complete a “self-assessment” in which they jointly review their program of study. The assessment is concerned with developing expertise rather than meeting milestones, so that conversations between student and advisor focus on intellectual and skill development.

Stipend support is provided to allow students to concentrate their time and energy on fulfilling the requirements of the program. To maximally benefit from the scholarly resources at the University and maintain satisfactory progress in the program (see timeline), the School strongly encourages students not to accept outside employment in their first year of study and to limit their employment to relevant teaching and research jobs in subsequent years.

Requirements for the PhD Degree

Students will take a minimum of 15 courses. At least 5 classes will be in research methods. At least 3 courses must be taken in other departments or professional schools. It is expected that these 3 courses will be in a single discipline. Courses in research or statistical methods do not fulfill this requirement. Students must maintain a satisfactory level of academic performance in meeting these course requirements.

Students are required to complete a pre-dissertation research project during their first two years of study. This project should be an empirical report, a critical analysis of the literature, or a theoretical piece, written while a doctoral student, that has been submitted for publication in a journal or book. Most commonly, pre-dissertation projects will grow out of research assistantships at SSA or elsewhere at the University of Chicago or from papers initially written by students as course requirements, but further developed to be suitable for submission for publication, usually under the guidance of the instructor from the class. Manuscripts may be co-authored with faculty or others, but if the student is not the first author, the first author needs to attest to the student’s role in preparing the manuscript.

Students must pass a qualifying examination that assesses their understanding of the history and philosophy of social work as well as their understanding of core literatures in 2 of 8 conceptual domains that inform direct practice, policy, or organizational research. The examination process includes a take-home, open-book examination completed during a 1-week period at the end of the summer following the students’ second year. It also includes a short (15 page) paper that the student completes during that summer, with input from a 2-person faculty committee established by the student. The examination is based on reading lists developed by the faculty; individual students develop a brief supplemental reading list that they can also draw on in their short paper. The reading lists for the qualifying examination overlap with reading lists for courses offered at SSA.

Finally, students are required to successfully complete a dissertation research project. As the culmination of the doctoral program, the dissertation reflects the student’s ability to use theoretical knowledge and analytic tools to add to what is known about social welfare and social work.

Doctoral students are reminded that many schools of social work require faculty to have a master’s degree in social work. The School has blended requirements so that students who enter without an MSW or equivalent degree can complete the master’s degree in the course of completing the doctoral program via the PhD/AM Program.

Timeline

Because the time needed to complete the dissertation varies widely, the time required for completion of the doctoral program also varies. In general, students take from four to five years to complete all requirements. The table below outlines the suggested plan for progress in the program:

Timeline for Completion of Program Requirements

Requirements First Year Second Year Third Year Fourth Year and Beyond
Coursework Courses to meet degree requirements Courses to meet degree requirements Complete coursework by beginning of year
Qualifying Exam Complete qualifying exam by beginning of year
Dissertation Pre-dissertation research Pre-dissertation research Dissertation proposal Dissertation data collection, analysis, writing, and defense
Assistantships Research assistantship Research assistantship Teaching assistantship Teaching assistantship