Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work


A century of social work in Chicago

A century of social work in Chicago

Loyola’s commitment to service is lived out every day through the School of Social Work, which celebrates its centennial this year.

The School of Social Work’s foundation is deeply anchored to issues of social and economic justice for the oppressed and marginalized.

100th Anniversary Celebration
Be a part of the School of Social Work's 100 Year Celebration.

Now in its 100th year, the School of Social Work is the oldest university social work program in Chicago. From its inception, founder Frederic Siedenburg, S.J., made it a priority to work directly with and for those who were being excluded from opportunities to fully engage as US citizens.

Whether it was assuring access to advanced training in applied sociology or defending immigrants’ rights, Fr. Siedenburg did not turn his face from the social injustices of his day. That spirit prevails today in the School of Social Work in many ways. With more than 600 master’s-level students, social work is the second-largest graduate program at Loyola.

A significant portion of the graduate education is conducted in supervised field education/internships in more than 400 field internship locations across the Chicagoland area. Students in the two-year program must complete 1,200 hours of internship before degree completion.

These placements embody the school’s commitment to being front and center in efforts to combat social injustices, work with marginalized populations, and produce a more socially just and equitable society. Our students and alumni work in diverse settings, including schools, prisons and jails, family and child welfare agencies, health and mental health care settings, substance and addiction treatment, international services, disaster planning and preparedness, and many governmental settings.

The work begun by Fr. Siedenburg is being nurtured and advanced by a cadre of outstanding academic faculty, staff, and our community partners.

Did you know?

  • Loyola’s School of Social Work, founded in 1914 by Frederic Siedenburg, S.J., as the University’s School of Sociology, was the first department of its kind in a Catholic university in the United States.
  • Father Siedenburg was a passionate defender of immigrants’ rights, denouncing attempts by the United States Congress to exclude newcomers from Southern and Eastern Europe.
  • Father Siedenburg was the only Catholic priest to accompany Chicago reformers to Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in February 1915, riding in a special Pullman train provided by philanthropist Julius Rosenwald.
  • Loyola’s first female students—Ella Rose Connell, Celia M. Gilmore, and Catherine Meade—who graduated from the School of Sociology in 1915, were well-known teachers in Chicago’s public schools.
  • Father Siedenburg was an early member of Chicago’s Motion Picture Commission in 1918, who believed that film “has come to stay” and “has a great educational future.”
  • The founder of Loyola’s School of Sociology crossed religious, racial, and class lines, working closely on labor issues with Progressive reformers such as Ellen Gates Starr, cofounder of Chicago’s Hull-House Settlement, and Agnes Nestor, president of the Chicago Women’s Trade Union League.

Facts by Ellen Skerrett: A Chicago historian, Skerrett is the author of Born in Chicago: A History of Chicago’s Jesuit  University (2008). In October she delivered a talk on Father Siedenburg as part of the 100th anniversary of Loyola’s School of Social Work.