Loyola University Chicago

Leadership and Development in Social Services (LDSS) Specialization

Loyola University’s School of Social Work is implementing a curriculum change this fall 2021 which will include students who began the program in spring 2021 or later. Spring 2021 admits can expect to receive additional communications about these changes. Continuing students that began the program in summer 2020 or earlier will not be impacted by the curriculum change, and should follow their advising template as planned, with the following exceptions:

  • Students that have not completed SOWK 507 by summer 2021, will need to take the new SOWK 509 course in fall 2021 or later. The new SOWK 509 course will include enhanced social welfare content and will now be called Social Welfare Policy and Community Advocacy.
  • Students that do not have SOWK 509 completed by summer 2021 will need to take a required special topics course –SOWK 634 - Strategies for Community Intervention, which will include the original SOWK 509 content. It will be offered in the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters only. To not interfere with your class schedule, it will be run as an asynchronous online course.

The Leadership and Development in Social Services (LDSS) domain prepares students to perform supervisory, managerial, and/or administrative practice within a variety of agency/organizational* settings.

Increasingly social workers are called upon to assume leadership and development roles and responsibilities for personnel development, program management, and agency/organizational administration. These roles and responsibilities can be lodged in supervisory, managerial and administrative positions. Students who would benefit most from the LDSS domain are those that have some direct service experience in their background and are interested in assuming a leadership position upon graduation.

Whether rooted in a generalist or clinical model of professional education, when promoted to leadership levels social workers must have the requisite knowledge, skills, and values to perform tasks and responsibilities including but not limited to the following: guide and support the work of others, assist the professional development of others, facilitate program development, manage people, programs, processes (political and non-political), services, administer agencies/organizations, engage financial planning, develop, implement, monitor and evaluate budgets, work with advisory and/or policy boards, support evaluation and research endeavors to assess effective and efficiency, and perform development activities, e.g., formerly known as fund-raising and grant writing. Social work supervisors, program managers, and administrators must also know how to work with diverse and multicultural personnel and clients as well as ensure quality services to all clients including vulnerable, oppressed, and disenfranchised populations.

The advanced concentration practice area of leadership and development in social services is critical to enabling social work as a profession to maintain control/mastery in the operation of social/human services agencies and organizations.


In the Advanced Practice second year, LDSS students are required to take three core  courses specific to LDSS, complete two policy electives, and complete their fieldwork practicum and integrative practice seminar. The required courses are: SOWK650 Staff Management and Development, SOWK 652 Organizational Leadership and SOWK 653 Program Management and Development Practice.

  • SOWK 650 (Staff Management and Development) prepares students for leadership and development practice in staff management and development positions, at all supervisory levels (1)  in social  and human services organizations. 
  • SOWK 652 (Organizational Leadership) concentrates on the theoretical perspectives, organizational functions and structures, leadership styles, techniques and skills, and ethical and value-driven leadership knowledge and skills needed by those who seek to specialize in human services agency administration.
  • SOWK 653 (Program Management and Development Practice), emphasizes planning, development and management of human service programs in addition to grant writing and other forms of resource development. 

The two policy electives are designed to complement the material they receive in these three core courses. They may choose from the following policy electives: the SOWK 610H, SOWK 610F, SOWK 602 or SOWK 609, as well as among the courses in the Philanthropy Certificate program or offerings in other departments that complement their interests and knowledge goals.

Field Placements:

Students interested in LDSS state their intention through the Fieldwork application that is turned into the Fieldwork Office in January of the student’s first year.  The staff in the fieldwork office then gives referrals to the students that fit their interest.  The fieldwork office does all placements and then assigns a fieldwork liaison once the placement is confirmed.

The second year LDSS field work placements are specifically developed to allow the students to put into supervised practice the theory they have been learning in class.  All LDSS field supervisors are social workers in upper level management at the field work organization.  Many of the organizations are the same ones that are available for our clinical practice students but the LDSS students are involved in management issues. Students are expected to work solely on administrative tasks and are not allowed to do direct service in LDSS placements. Agencies currently being used for LDSS students include: Lutheran Child and Family Services, Catholic Charities, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Department of Children and Family Services, Gads Hill Center, BUILD, Inc., JEWISH Federation and the Council on Jewish Elderly.  Students are expected to get experience in five areas of organizational leadership: finance, resource development, human resources, program evaluation and quality assurance, and board development.

Elective Recommendations

LDSS Policy Electives

  • SOWK 602: Health Policy and Systems
  • SOWK 608: Social Work & Law
  • SOWK 610F: Social Policy and Practice with Families and Children
  • SOWK 610H: Social Policy and Practice in Health and Mental Health
  • SOWK 654: Global Social Work: Reflective Practice for Justice and Peace
  • SOWK 663: Women, Policy, and Media
  • SOWK 714: Philanthropy, Public Policy, Community Change
  • SOWK 730: Migration Dynamics and U.S. Social Policy
  • SOWK 732: Migration, Social Justice, and Human Rights
  • SOWK 733: North American Migration Dynamics: Challenges, Opportunities, and Alternatives and Policy (study abroad course taught in Mexico)
  • SOWK 734: Social Policy and Older Adults

LDSS Clinical Electives

  • SOWK 603: Seminar in Brief Treatment
  • SOWK 604: Advanced Social Work Practice in Groups
  • SOWK 605: Human Sexuality and Sexual Dysfunction
  • SOWK 611: Social Work Practice with Couples (Pre-requisite=612)
  • SOWK 612: Family Assessment and Intervention
  • SOWK 613: Advanced Family Treatment (Pre-requisite=612)
  • SOWK 614: Clinical Social Work Practice in Health Care
  • SOWK 615: Social Work Practice with Adolescents
  • SOWK 616: Psychotherapy with Adults
  • SOWK 617: Principles & Interventions in Clinical Social Work
  • SOWK 618: The Role of Religion & Spirituality in Psychotherapy
  • SOWK 620: Clinical Social Work Practice with Children
  • SOWK 626: Social Work with the Severely Mentally Ill
  • SOWK 631: Clinical Social Work Practice with Family Violence
  • SOWK 632: Advanced Clinical Social Work with Older Adults
  • SOWK 645: Crisis Intervention
  • SOWK 670: Bridging Psychodynamic Theory and Cognitive Behavioral Practice
  • SOWK 731: Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees
  • SOWK 735​: Loss, Grief and Dying

  General Electives

  • SOWK 602: Health Policy and Systems
  • SOWK 608: Social Work & Law
  • SOWK 610F: Social Policy and Practice with Families and Children
  • SOWK 610H: Social Policy and Practice in Health and Mental Health
  • SOWK 614: Clinical Social Work Practice in Health Care
  • SOWK 615: Adolescent Client: Diagnosis and Treatment
  • SOWK 616: Psychotherapy with Adults
  • SOWK 617: Interventions in Clinical Work
  • SOWK 620: Clinical Social Work Practice with Children
  • SOWK 654: Global Social Work: Reflective Practice for Justice and Peace
  • SOWK 714: Philanthropy, Public Policy, Community Change