Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Schools Specialization

School social work is defined as a specialty by a number of national and local organizations. Illinois, along with several other states, requires individuals to be licensed to practice as a school social worker. In order to qualify for licensure, individuals must receive their training through accredited institutions of higher learning. Loyola University Chicago and its School of Social Work in collaboration with the School of Education provide the required training.

State of Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL)—School Social Worker Endorsement—Requirements

Students interested in pursuing the PEL, which enable them to be a social worker in a public school in Illinois, must meet the requirements of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Loyola School of Social Work (SSW).

ISBE Requirements


Beginning June 30, 2019, the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP400) will be put on hold, while ISBE conducts a study of alternative basic skills assessments. The last day to register for the TAP is June 27, 2019. TAP tests passed prior to June 30, 2019, will continue to be accepted to meet the Illinois basic skills requirement past June 30, 2019. ISBE will continue to require specific scores on the ACT or SAT as a test of basic skills for the issuance of a Professional Educator License​.

ISBE requires that students pass all four sections of the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP-400)* or the substitution tests (ACT/SAT)exam before completing the PEL program within the respective university program. The scores for the Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP-400) or the previous Basic Skills test (300 or 096) will be honored indefinitely.

A candidate for the PEL must also pass the content-area test specific to school social work. The test (ISBE #184) must be passed prior to beginning the last semester of the student’s school-based, second level internship. The SSW requires verification of test passage by January 1(approximately 2 weeks prior to the start of the spring final semester). Please see Loyola Requirements for alternatives in the event of a no-pass of the content area test.

A study guide is available for the content area tests for social work at the following link http://www.icts.nesinc.com/PDFs/IL_field184_SG.pdf

Effective April 2014, all content-area tests will be administered only in Computer-Based Testing(CBT) format.

ISBE rules require that a student earn a grade of “C” or better in all program classes. The internship grade of “P” (Pass) meets the ISBE requirement.

Please follow the directions on the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS) website for information on test registration and test dates and location.

ISBE Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) Substitution Options

Students may substitute the following tests for the TAP test:

1. ACT: ACT scores prior to 9/1/15 require a score of 22 and a minimum combined English/Writing score of 19.  Scores 9/1/15 or later require a composite score of 22 or higher and a minimum score of 16 on the writing portion.  Scores 9/10/16 or later require a composite score of 22 or higher and a minimum score of 6 on the writing portion.

2. SAT: SAT scores prior to 3/5/16 require a minimum composite on the critical reading and math of 1030 and a minimum score of 450 on the writing portion.  Scores 3/5/16 or later require a minimum composite on evidence-based reading and writing, and math of 1110 and a minimum score of 26 on the writing and language portion.

3. Out-of-state test of basic skills that led to licensure in another state.

Please note that effective June 12, 2014, students have the option of re-taking the TAP,  ACT or SAT test in lieu of the TAP as many times as necessary to achieve passing scores.

Beginning January 1, 2014 Students who wish to substitute an applicable ACT or SAT test must first create an ELIS account and then request that an ACT Plus Writing or SAT score report be sent to ISBE. When requesting ACT scores be sent to ISBE, use the code 3001. When requesting SAT scores be sent to ISBE, use the code 6773. These codes will expedite the process of the scores to be uploaded into the ELIS accounts.


Please note that students have the option of re-taking the ACT or SAT test in lieu of the TAP and seeking a substitution per the above ISBE rules.

**The ITLS Basic Skills Test (#096) (administered prior to September 11, 2010) cannot be applied to fulfill passing requirements for the test of Test of Academic Proficiency.

Loyola School of Social Work Requirements

Loyola’s School of Social Work (SSW) has five specializations from which students may choose for their second or advanced level of study. Loyola’s School of Social Work (SSW) has four clinical specializations and one administrative domain from which students may choose for their second or advanced level of study.  Specializations are declared by December 1 of their first year when the application for the second internship is due. Students who wish to specialize in schools will meet with program faculty and the internship coordinator in September to plan strategies for meeting ISBE requirements and program deadlines.

In addition to passing the TAP exam or receiving the applicable substitution prior to acceptance into the SSW schools program, students will also interview for an internship in a traditional Illinois Public school (non-charter, non-therapeutic and/or non-alternative). Students must complete an internship (which is the entire academic year of the school they are placed in). They will also take five required courses and four electives (specific course requirements are listed below).

Students who do not meet the January 1 content-area test deadline will be unable to proceed in a schools specialization per ISBE rule. They will change to a “Children & Families” specialization with various internship options. Specialization change may result in extension of the student program and delay in graduation.

Post-MSW Applicants

Applicants to the post-MSW PEL Program must pass the TAP or its eligible substitution by March 15 of the year in which they plan to begin a school social work internship as a condition of admission to the Licensure Program. Details can be found at: Post-MSW PEL with School Social Worker Endorsement

BSW Five-Year Students

Students will make application for Schools specialization by Dec. 1 of their senior year. They will follow the deadlines applicable to the MSW fall applicants above, passing all sections of TAP or its eligible substitution by March 15 of the following spring semester. Students will be formally accepted into the Schools specialization before they are eligible for a school internship.

Applying for Licensure

Once students have completed the required ISBE tests, coursework, and internship and degree conferral has been completed, candidates may proceed to the School Entitlement Form for next steps to receive the Professional Educator License: School Social Worker Endorsement.

Elective Recommendations

  • SOWK 603: Seminar in Brief Treatment
  • SOWK 605: Human Sexuality and Sexual Dysfunction
  • SOWK 608: Social Work and the Law
  • SOWK 616: Psychotherapy with Adults
  • SOWK 617: Principles & Interventions in Clinical Social Work
  • SOWK 656: Social Work Practice with LGBTQ Populations
  • SOWK 670: Bridging Psychodynamic Theory and Cognitive Behavioral Practice
  • SOWK 722: Introduction to Alcohol and Other Drug Disorders