The Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice’s master’s degree in Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration (SW) prepares you to be a leader in the fields of clinical social work and social administration practice. Our AM degree, artium magister (master of arts), is equivalent to an MSW, but with a broader educational and experiential foundation that combines direct social work practice with policy development, interdisciplinary research, and social science theory. The comprehensive and interdisciplinary nature of the AM degree translates into greater flexibility and choice in your future career.
The Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration program 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. 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.
To achieve these goals, students develop the following core competencies:
Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.
Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.
Engage diversity and difference in practice.
Advance human rights and social and economic justice.
Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.
Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.
Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.
Respond to contexts that shape practice.
Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
To facilitate the development of these core competencies and the knowledge and behavior to practice at an advanced level, the School’s Social Work and Social Welfare (SW) program is organized into a core curriculum and an elective concentration in either clinical practice or social administration. No academic credit is awarded for life or work experience.
The Crown Family School master's program has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and its predecessor organizations since 1919. The rigor and quality of a Crown Family School education have earned us a spot among the top graduate schools of social work in the world.
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. You are then asked to choose between two academic concentrations: Clinical or Social Administration.
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.
The First Year Core
The Core Curriculum is central to the educational program at the master's level. It brings together all students, whatever their career interests, for a solid introduction to the fundamentals of social policy formulation and program implementation, social research, and direct practice. The Core Curriculum prepares students for generalist practice through mastery of the core competencies of the profession as articulated by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It places particular emphasis on understanding and working with culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged populations. After completing core studies in the first year, students who choose clinical practice begin their concentration with an established awareness of the broader contexts of individual distress and helping responses, while social administration students enter their concentration with a corresponding understanding of social work intervention at the direct practice level.
Required courses in the first two quarters of the first year provide students with a common foundation of knowledge concerning social welfare issues, human development, direct practice intervention strategies, and social research and practice behaviors related to these areas of knowledge. This foundation provides the background for concentration in advanced practice in clinical work or in social administration. Fieldwork placements in the first year are continuous for three quarters. They provide direct practice experience with distressed people and the institutions established to help them.
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.
Two-thirds of our students in the Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration (SW) Program enter the clinical concentration, which prepares students for advanced practice with individuals, families, and small groups. The basic principles and values of practical thought serve as an orienting perspective, emphasizing theoretical diversity and comparative approaches to growth and change. Defining features of the program emphasize the use of both scientific and humanistic domains of understanding: the crucial role of the practitioner-client relationship; students' progressive narrative and experiential learning; and the importance of diverse client narratives, empirical findings, and methods. Students consider the strengths and limits of different approaches in light of the values and concerns of the broader social work profession as they develop critically reflective practice.
The program also emphasizes the ways in which social, cultural, political, and economic conditions shape the experience of vulnerability, need, and problems in living, and the role of advocacy as practitioners work to create more humane and responsive organizations and communities. Direct practitioners serve a variety of roles in a wide range of settings, and graduates assume supervisory, management, and consulting responsibilities over the course of their careers.
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 social administration concentration in the Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration (SW) program prepares students for professional practice in community, organizational, and governmental settings. Students are prepared for research, management, and advocacy positions in federal, state, county, and municipal government; private non-profit and for-profit organizations; policy research institutes; community-based organizations and action groups; electoral politics at all levels of government; and non-governmental organizations working in a variety of international contexts. The social administration concentration provides students with advanced instruction in analytic and strategic intervention related to the institutional conditions – economic, political, and organizational – that shape social welfare. It enables students to develop practice competencies needed to analyze, research, and advocate for client groups and constituencies, and to plan, implement, and evaluate programs and policies at various levels of intervention.
Programs of Study
Programs of Study are faculty-designed elective sequences that combine carefully selected courses and field placements geared toward a particular area of social work. Each Program of Study has prescribed requirements, either required courses or sets of courses from which you may choose. Importantly, each program combines course work with a related field experience to allow you to connect theoretical learning with the development of competencies in a particular area of practice. About forty percent of our students complete a Program of Study.
The Crown Family School offers a range of opportunities for students to learn about social welfare policy and practice internationally: in the classroom, certificate programs, programs of study, seminars and workshop presentations, and through experiential learning opportunities abroad. The Crown Family School’s orientation to international social work is designed to provide students with the opportunity to think about social problems, social policy, and social work practice from a comparative cross-national perspective. Courses are integrated into the broader curriculum, providing all students with an opportunity to incorporate some international perspectives into their work locally. For students with an interest in working abroad or with immigrant and refugee populations at home, the Program of Study and Certificate Programs provide an opportunity to dig deeper and establish a foundation of knowledge and skills to pursue these interests.
Master's Application & Procedures
The application for the Master of Arts Program in Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration (SW) opens in September. Only complete applications will be considered. Applicants will be expected to have:
A submitted application with $75.00 application fee, paid in U.S. currency, by bank draft or postal money order. This fee is most easily paid online with a credit card as part of the application process. Personal checks are accepted only if written by a United States bank. This fee is an official requirement for admission, and international governments will approve the release of funds for this purpose. The fee is non-refundable and does not apply toward tuition or other charges. If you have received a fee waiver form by attending an admissions event, please complete the fee waiver form on the online application and enter your fee waiver code.
A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution;
Transcripts from all previous institutions;
Applicants who have completed their post-secondary education at a college or university located outside of the United States are expected to have earned a baccalaureate-level degree or its equivalent. Applicants are also expected to have completed some prior social work experience before applying for admission. International academic credentials, including courses taken, grades received, and degrees granted, should be sent directly to the Admissions Office by the issuing institution. If this is not possible, copies in the applicant's possession may be acceptable if they have been certified by the proper school authorities. Applicants may not validate their own documents. The class or division of the degree must be stated if this is the customary method of reporting the quality of academic work. If the Admissions Office is unable to complete a degree verification based on the documentation submitted, the Admissions office reserves the right to require a credential evaluation by an approved outside agency.
Applicants may submit unofficial transcripts for the application review process. Transcripts should be accompanied by the institutional grading and credit system information, which is most commonly found on the reverse side of paper transcripts. If your institution does not provide digitized transcripts, applicants may upload scanned paper transcripts to the online application. Please make sure to include the reverse side with the grading and credit system information.
If college work is incomplete at the time of application, a final transcript must be sent when final grades and degree conferral have been recorded.
A current resume;
3 letters of recommendation;
A minimum of three recommendations are required, two of which should address your academic ability. References should be qualified to discuss your aptitude for both graduate study and social work. No more than four letters of recommendation may be submitted.
Current undergraduates or recent graduates must include at least two academic references.
Applicants who are or recently have been employed must include one reference from an employment supervisor. Ask your professional references to speak to your analytic and critical thinking skills.
4-page candidate's statement that addresses the following topics:
What personal and professional factors have led you to pursue a master’s degree in social work at this time, and what specifically has influenced your decision to pursue a social work degree from The University of Chicago?
What are your professional goals and how will a social work education at Crown Family School provide a way to achieve them? Consider your own strengths and what you would need to learn or develop relative to becoming an effective social worker.
Identify a population or social issue which you feel passionate about working with to challenge social and economic inequalities. Provide a critique of how current institutions, services, welfare policies, or community practices have failed to advance the overall wellbeing of relevant populations.
English Proficiency: Applicants to the graduate schools and divisions of the University of Chicago must submit proof of English language proficiency unless they meet the waiver criteria outlined below. This policy applies to all graduate programs; the score level required for admission varies by program. Only the TOEFL iBT or IELTS Academic tests are accepted as proof of proficiency.
English has been a primary language of communication and schooling for you since childhood; or
You were enrolled for at least one academic year in full-time status in a course of study at an accredited English-medium post-secondary institution in one of the following countries or territories within the past ten years: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, the United States.
Education in English-medium institutions in other countries or territories does not qualify for the exemption.
The minimum required score for the TOEFL is 104 overall (IBT) with a sub-score of 26 in each category. The minimum required score for the IELTS is 7 overall, with sub-scores of 7 in each category. Check the TOEFL and IELTS sites for more information about the test. The results of the test will be sent to the University by the Testing Service. Applications will not be given final consideration until the results of the test have been received. The University of Chicago Institutional Code for TOEFL is 1832; the department code for Crown Family School is 95.
Note to graduates of the University of Puerto Rico: Because the language of instruction is not English, graduates of the University of Puerto Rico will be required to take an English examination.
We do not require an interview or GRE scores.
Additional documents may be required at the request of the admissions committee.
Additional Financial Consideration for International Applicants
Financial Plan: Once an international applicant has been granted admission, the applicant must submit a financial statement, itemizing sources of funds for maintenance and transportation, and must provide documented proof (certification by a bank or subsidizing agency or agent) of resources sufficient for their support during the two years. It is estimated that educational and living expenses, exclusive of travel to and from the student's home country, will be approximately $82,000 for one year of study for a master's student.
Financial Aid: Applicants who need financial assistance are advised to explore possibilities in their home country and from United States government sources. Information about the latter may often be obtained from a United States consulate or information service office. The Institute of International Education, One East 67th Street, New York, NY 10021, also provides information about scholarship opportunities. The University of Chicago provides information on non-Federal alternative loan funds for international students who meet the relevant requirements and have an eligible co-signer. Information can be found on the Graduate Financial Aid website.