The School Social Work Program is a School-based Program of Study. You must be accepted first to SSA and then by the School Social Work Program of Study. SSA students apply during the winter of their first year.


Designed for students in the Clinical Practice concentration, the School Social Work Program offers a specialized curriculum leading to Professional Educator Licensure with School Social Work Endorsement (the PEL, formerly known as Type 73 Certification) issued through the Illinois State Board of Education.  The School Social Work Program enables students to become effective practitioners within the context of the public school system. Students build the knowledge, skills, values, and experience applicable to work in a variety of school settings.

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 and their choice of one of four electives focusing on urban education and advanced social work practice in schools.

Students interested in the School Social Work Program must pass the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) before applying to the program of study.  Students may also submit qualifying ACT or SAT scores in lieu of the TAP.  Prior to applying for the PEL students must also pass the School Social Work content-area exam, also administered by the ISBE.   For more information about testing requirements please see: Upon completion of all program of study and state requirements students are eligible to obtain their Professional Educator Licensure, required to practice social work in most public school settings in Illinois.

Financial Aid

Stipends may be available to students in the School Social Work Program through their field placements. For School Social Work students the size and availability of stipends will vary by school or school district.

Applications for the School Social Work Program are available every year in January, and students are notified of their acceptance into the program prior to the end of the Winter quarter.

Field Placement

Fieldwork is a critical component of the School Social Work Program. Students work in a variety of urban and suburban settings and have opportunities to develop relationships with students, families, school staff and the community-at-large. The scope of work may include working directly with children, collaborating with teachers, developing systems of support that impact school structures, and connecting the school with local resources to promote academic success as well as healthy social and emotional development.

Career Opportunities

SSA alumni are at the forefront of education. With strong problem solving, multidisciplinary, and interpersonal skills, they are working at the intersection of social work and education at a variety of practice and policy levels. Our alumni work in both practice and policy positions in public schools, private schools, and community schools.

Alumni of SSA’s School-based Programs are uniquely prepared to promote student learning and well-being, address academic and non-academic barriers to learning, develop comprehensive and cohesive academic and social supports, and understand and apply diverse frameworks for evidence-based practice and program development.

Other School-based Programs of Study

For students in the Social Administration concentration, SSA offers the Community Schools Program of Study.  For more information see

For those who already have a Master’s degree in social work, SSA offers a Post-Master’s School Social Work Endorsement Certificate Program.  For more information see

Contact Information

Jennifer Meade
Director, School Social Work Program

Read more about School Social Work student Zehua Cui here.

Silvia Acosta

Silvia L. Acosta, AM '14

“I chose SSA because of its reputation as one of the top programs in the nation. I was attracted to the idea of being intellectually challenged by renowned faculty and classmates in discussionbased lectures. Additionally, I saw that the comprehensive curriculum offered a balanced approach, encompassing both macro and micro training in social work.”