Master's in Social Work Overview

For current students who began Fall 2023 or earlier, including advanced standing students who will begin in Summer 2024

The Individual & Society

The goal of all Crown Family School coursework and fieldwork is to frame individual distress in a larger social context. To be an effective social worker, social administrator, or policy maker, you must be able to recognize and understand the diverse and intersecting causes of distress: psychological, biological, familial, political, economic and social. This broader understanding will inform the methods you use to help people overcome their own unique challenges, prevent problems from occurring in the first place, and craft new solutions to ongoing problems.

Goals of the Degree

The Master’s degree in Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration (SW) 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:

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

Clinical & Administration Concentrations

The Crown Family School Master's Program in Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration (SW) begins with a first-year Core curriculum that introduces you to the chief methods of social intervention (direct practice, policy, and research), the diversity of human experience, and the fundamentals of human behavior and development.

Clinical & Administration Concentrations

(applicable for students enrolled in Fall 2023 or earlier including Advanced Standing Students who will begin in Summer 2024)

You will choose between two academic concentrations:

  • Clinical Concentration – Learn the major prevention and treatment approaches of direct clinical practice and engage with real clients through clinical fieldwork in hundreds of agencies and organizations across Chicago.
  • Social Administration Concentration – Take advanced coursework in the economics, politics, organization, and delivery of social welfare services and participate in administrative fieldwork at government agencies and community development organizations.

The SW Program offers the flexibility to customize your education to your specific career goals. Choose from elective courses within Crown Family School and throughout the University in a wide variety of social work and related fields. Explore opportunities to study abroad. You can also leverage the interdisciplinary strengths of the University of Chicago by combining your AM degree with a Master of Public Policy, an MBA or a Master of Divinity.