SSA @ a Glance

The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) prepares students to become leaders in the field of social work. SSA offers graduate work leading to both the AM and PhD degrees.


The SSA master's programs have been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and its predecessor organizations since 1919. The rigor and quality of an SSA education have earned us a spot among the top graduate schools of social work in the world. 


SSA offers two Master's Degree ProgramsSocial Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration (SW) and Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management (SSL). Both offer an integrated approach that prepare you to be a force of positive change in people's lives, but each program is distinctive. The SW Program is for those who wish to become a social worker and want to focus on change at multiple levels: individuals, families, communities, and agencies. You can concentrate on either clinical social work, or social administration, but in both you'll gain a clear vision of the interconnectedness of policy and the lives of marginalized populations. The SSL Program is for individuals with previous experience working in the social sector who are seeking to advance into positions of agency leadership such as program managers, directors, and executives.

The Doctoral Program offers specialized study at a more advanced level. Each student's program is unique and features course work (including courses in related disciplines taught by other units of the University), independent study, and research leading to the dissertation.

SSA is one of the top graduate schools of social work in the United States.

Financial Aid

Each year, SSA provides more than $4 million to students in scholarships. Approximately 95% of our master's students receive scholarship aid based on merit and need. 100% of our doctoral students receive full funding. 

Students (2019-2020)

Total Enrollment 

Master's students: 406
Doctoral students: 52


Arab/Middle Eastern/North African 2%
Asian 7%
Black/African American 10%
Hispanic/Latinx 15%
International 9%
Unspecified 2.6%
Multi-racial 5%
Native American or Alaska Native 0.5%
Other 0.5%
Not Stated 3%
White/Caucasian: 54%


83% female, 17% male

Class Size

In the Master's program, classes may be as large as 30 students and as small as 6-10 students. Classes in the Master's Core Curriculum are capped at 30 students. 

Faculty (2018-2019)

SSA has 32 distinguished faculty (excluding lecturers) who were trained in fields such as political science, history, economics, psychology, and sociology, as well as social work and social welfare. Our faculty are the most racially diverse faculty cohort of the University of Chicago campus.

Demographics: 66% White; 16% African American; 9% Asian; 9% LatinoGender: 23 female; 9 male

  • Professors: 11

  • Associate Professors: 13

  • Assistant Professors: 8

  • Senior Lecturers: 1



Historic Achievements

  • Proposed the philosophy that social work demands a firm intellectual base in the social sciences.

  • Pioneered an orientation toward public agencies as well as private charities.

  • Offered psychiatric course work as early as 1912.

  • Began publishing Social Service Review, the first scholarly journal in the field of social work, in 1927.

  • Laid the foundation for the child-related provisions of the nation's Social Security system through research on the status of mothers and children in the 1930s.

  • Developed the generic casework curriculum that became a model for social work education.

  • Professor Charlotte Towle published Common Human Needs, the classic manual for public assistance workers that linked psychiatric theories to social work practice (1945).

  • Developed the first social policy sequence in the country (1968).

  • Applied behavior modification to casework.

  • Under the supervision of Helen Harris Perlman, SSA developed the task-centered approach to practice.