The University of Chicago

School of Social Service Administration Magazine

SSA introduces new Master’s Program Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management (SSL) program to prepare students for rapid advancement in mission-driven organizations

The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) is dedicated to working toward a more just and humane society. SSA recently launched an important new Master's-level program, Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management (SSL) to complement the existing Master of Arts Program in Social Work and Social Welfare (SW).

The SSL program is designed to provide students a deep understanding of the organizational and policy environments shaping social sector action. Through advanced study in organizational management, governance, and analysis, students will have an opportunity to accelerate their impact on this vital work.

Designed for Rapid Advancement
The SSL degree was specifically developed for individuals with previous experience working in the social sector who are seeking to rapidly advance into positions of leadership, such as program managers, directors, and executives. Graduates will be equipped with a more sophisticated and effective understanding of organizational governance, and the expertise to leverage data in today's mission-driven work—particularly in the fields of health and human services, community organizing and development, policy implementation, and advocacy.

"We created SSL after identifying a gap between social sector leaders' passion for social justice and equity, and their ability to deploy superior analytical skills," explains program director and SSA Associate Professor Jennifer E. Mosley, an expert on the nonprofit sector. "Our graduates will walk away with a better understanding of their own leadership potential, along with tools to help them drive meaningful social change."

An Intimate Learning Experience
This in-person program, informed by a century-long history of working with social sector organizations, will provide students ample opportunities to spend time with professors and learn from colleagues in an intimate setting. Students will take classes with SSA professors representing over a dozen different disciplines, along with scholars from across the University of Chicago, a global research university and a center for innovation.

Full- and Part-Time Options Offered
This flexible program offers both a full-time 12-month option, and a part-time 21-month option. Day, evening, and weekend classes will be available. Both options include 12 courses plus a Summer Practicum. The Practicum is a quarter-long opportunity for students to identify a real world, executive-level management challenge, design a plan to address it, and present the plan to executive staff in the chosen organization.

"This new group of SSA alumni will be able to provide the effective leadership needed to address some of society's most pressing social challenges," says SSA Dean Deborah Gorman-Smith, Dean and Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor. "This kind of informed leadership is what is most needed in the social sector today."

Financial Aid Available
Last year, 95 percent of all SSA master's-level students received merit- and need-based tuition scholarship/gift aid. Applicants will be expected to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and 3-5 years of experience working in a social sector organization. Application requirements include a current resume, transcripts from all previous institutions, two letters of recommendation, and a four-page candidate's statement that addresses topics outlined in the application. The GRE is not required. The degree is also offered as a dual degree with SSA's AM in Social Work and Social Welfare. For more information, visit:

Courses will begin in Autumn 2020. Our application will open September 1st for the 2021-22 academic year: Application deadlines are February 1, March 15, or June 1, each year.

This article was updated on August 13, 2020.