The University of Chicago

School of Social Service Administration Magazine

A Thorough Grounding in Practice and Policy At SSA, practice and policy are complementary.

Competent clinical social workers understand the policies that shape the lives of their clients. Community organizers, managers, and policy analysts are effective when they understand the complexities of direct practice with clients.

Though they may specialize in one area, SSA students have versatility that allows them to pursue their specialty with deeper understanding and greater effectiveness. They can be both generalists and specialists, function as both social workers and policy makers, and be effective in both clinical and administrative settings.

Our curriculum is built on the assumption that all clinical social workers need to understand the complexities of organizational theory and practice, the policies that govern human services, and how to advocate for change in those systems. Similarly, students who are preparing for work at larger system levels need to know and understand the needs of those who seek services, and how to assess, intervene, and evaluate those services.

The core curriculum in our master's program gives equal weight to micro and macro practice, and the concentrations are informed by issues at multi-system levels. Students gain over 1,000 hours of professional experience in many facets of clinical and administrative social work, from individual casework to citywide policy development.

The doctoral program curriculum is designed to ensure expertise in social science theory, research methods, and a substantive area of specialization, all while exploring the theoretical underpinnings of social work scholarship from a variety of disciplinary lenses and levels of analysis.