Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

School Mental Health Advanced Practice Certificate

 Video LUC SMHAPP Program 

This post-master’s certificate program equips mental health professionals to better impact positive psychosocial development of their student clients. Primary takeaways from the program will include: advanced training in fostering collaboration between schools and families, implementing strength-based interventions in schools, advocating for whole-school interventions, and becoming more data driven and evidence informed as School-Based Mental Health Practitioners (SBMHP). The learning goals for the SMHAPP are:

  • To help SBMHPs further assist student clients in succeeding academically by teaching SBMHP evidence-informed methods to foster positive psychosocial development of their students.
  • To enhance the overall sense of well being in school communities by strengthening SBMHP collaborations between students, families, faculty and communities, including the delivery of effective interventions across all three tiers of the RTI and PBIS models.
  • To train SBMHPs to implement strength-based interventions in their practice, specifically interventions rooted in solution-focused brief therapy models and some of the ongoing solution-focused research being carried out at the FSPP.
  • To reshape school practice by training school based mental health professionals to provide more systemic, whole school interventions and efficiently meet students’ needs.
  • To provide a cutting-edge program for school based mental health professionals to learn how to become more data-driven and evidence-informed in their school mental health practice.   

 Check Out Our Online Information Session Presentation!

Learn More About the SMHAPP Program


          Binita Donohue





Loyola SMHAPP Certificate Testimonials

Dianna Phelps, M.A., Loyola SMHAPP graduate, MTSS Specialist, Philadelphia Public Schools, PA

D-Phelps SMHAPP Certificate Student

"I completed this program and it was fantastic. I learned so much; it provided me with the knowledge and skills that I needed to go deeper with my work. Seriously, it was the best professional decision I’ve made. Also, you can complete this program remotely. No need to live in Chicago. That’s just a bonus."

Mike Flood MSW, School Social Worker, Skokie, IL

M-Flood SMHAPP Certificate Student

"In my opinion, the Loyola SMHAPP program has been totally worth it, especially since it's so readily applicable to daily practice. Working and collaborating with other school social workers and other school mental health professionals has been awesome. The program is divided up into an online seminar and online modules. The seminar has been wildly helpful in helping me push through on some school-based initiatives I wanted to start, and also gave me the structure and support I needed to see them through. The modules on EBP, data-driven decision-making, and strength-based interventions have all been wonderful resources. In short, my favorite part is the instant applicability of what we learn. I feel like every time I do "homework" I have a list of ideas and strategies for implementation that I want to try the next day at work!"

Sean Delaney MSW, Director of Counseling, Wellness, and Support Services, Columbus School for Girls, OH

S-Delaney SMHAPP Certificate Student

"The coursework, collaboration and cohort model have proven to be even more engaging, insightful and practical than I could have imagined. We have the opportunity to share experiences, resources and expertise with colleagues in the school-based mental health field - worth the time and money alone. The interactive portion of the class is the highlight of my (every other) Tuesday night! The modules also provide tremendous insights and resources around important topical areas. Through the readings, discussions and online modules I am consistently noting something to try, propose or implement in my current practice setting."

Carlos A. Evans Jr. MSW, School Social Worker, Peoria, IL; President, Illinois Association of School Social Workers

C-Evans SMHAPP Certificate Student

"As school social workers, there are times when we facilitate groups using a specific curriculum that claims to be evidence-based. How often, though, do we check the evidence to learn whether or not the intervention is appropriate for the population we serve? How often do we evaluate the services we provide to students and families to check on our own level of success based on the intervention we facilitated? Who finds time for all of this? I recently was challenged to ask myself these questions as a student in Loyola University's School Mental Health Advanced Practice Certificate Program. I want to encourage all school social workers to advocate for themselves and for what they envision their role to be in your school or district. If you find yourself desiring a better understanding of evidence-based practice and working with data, I encourage you to think about applying to Loyola’s School Mental Health Advanced Practice Certificate Program taught online by Dr. Kelly and other guest speakers. I have gained so much useful information - I believe we should all pursue this certificate."

This program consists of 15 credit hours, including two synchronous courses, two asynchronous online courses, and one hybrid elective class. All courses are offered online with the exception of one in-person immersion weekend required. Courses are offered during the fall and spring semesters.

SOWK 780/781 Integrative Seminar I

(3 credits, online, taught over the full 1st year)
This course introduces the key ideas of the certificate and builds the 2-year professional learning community (PLC) for each cohort. Students identify the topic for their School-Change Project, a 2-year systemic intervention designed to address the SEL needs for their school community, and conduct an initial needs assessment with key school stakeholders. Based on that needs assessment data and other key ideas within the various SMHAPP courses, students put together a proposal for their project, to begin implementing in year 2.

SOWK 782/783 Integrative Seminar II

(3 credits, online, taught over the full 2nd year)
This 2nd year of their cohort course gives students advanced training in the data-driven, evidence-informed techniques they need to implement their School-Change Project, and also gives them opportunities to develop expertise in communicating their ideas through articles for the SSWN website, webinars for the SSWNetwork social media site, and collaborations with other cohort members in co-teaching course material.

SOWK 784:  Evidence-Based Practice in Schools

(3 credits, online, can take in either Year 1 or Year 2)
Foundational course, devoted to helping students learn the critical components of evidence-informed practice, including the 5-step process for using EBP to help school clients.  Students will go in-depth on some of the key areas of interventions in schools to acquire up-to-date knowledge about "what works" in school mental health and how to best implement EBP in their school practice.

SOWK 785:  Strength-based Interventions in Schools (SFBT, MI)

(3 credits, online, may take in either Year 1 or Year 2)
This course provides a significant exposure to key strength-based treatment modalities and tools for school clinicians. Topics covered include solution-focused brief therapy, motivational interviewing, and DBT/mindfulness training.

SOWK 786:  Special Topics in Advanced School Mental Health Practice

(3 credits, online & includes the summer immersion weekend)
Diving Deeper into Data in School Mental Health
The ultimate goal of this course is to increase the skill set of mental health professionals in the application of assessment, data gathering and data analysis tools to inform the design of interventions to help remove barriers to learning.

The program begins in the Fall semester (August). Courses are offered during the fall and spring semesters. Average time to completion (full-time) is 2 years (4 semesters).

The total cost of the program is $10,000 for four semesters of coursework.

Applications to the ASMHPP program are accepted for Fall term only. Applications and required materials are due August 1.

You must submit:

  • A Completed Application Form
    You may submit your application form online. (gpem.luc.edu/apply)

  • Official Transcripts
    Applicants must submit official transcripts for all undergraduate and any graduate work. To be eligible for admission, your transcript must show an earned bachelor's degree or a bachelor's degree in progress. Certified copies of transcripts are acceptable; faxed copies of transcripts are not considered official. If you attended Loyola University Chicago previously, you do not need to request these transcripts; we have them on record.

  • Two Letters of Recommendation
    If you supply your recommender's email address as part of your completed online application form, then your recommendation letters may be submitted online. Or, your recommenders may mail them to:

    Graduate & Professional Enrollment Management
    820 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1200
    Chicago, IL 60611

    We ask that you submit no more than three letters of recommendation.  Recommendation letters can come from academic, professional or volunteer sources.  One of each is recommended.  If you graduated less than 5 years ago, at least one reference should be from an academic source.

  • Proof of Current Employment in a School Setting       
    Applicants must provide a letter from your agency or district’s Human Resources department confirming that you are working at least part-time in or for a school district. 

  • A Statement of Purpose

    In a double-spaced, typed essay, please submit a statement of purpose on the topic below:

    The overarching goal of the ASMHPP is to equip you with new information and skills to prepare you for leadership in school mental health work in your school and school district. Please describe how you became interested in completing a certificate in school mental health practice, specifically why you wanted additional training to build on your prior graduate work.

    Describe how you hope to use this program to enhance your present position in your district. In addition, please outline what you see as the three most important issues in your school/district that you hope to address with the additional training you will receive from the ASMHPP.

NOTE: The U.S. Department of Education requires any institution offering distance education/online programs to students outside of its home state to acquire authorization from the states in which students reside.  Regulations vary from state to state.  While Loyola University Chicago is authorized, exempt or pursuing authorization in most states, some restrictions apply. Please see our State Authorization page for the most up-to-date information.

Loyola University Chicago is registered as a private institution with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education pursuant to sections 136A.61 to 136A.71. Registration is not an endorsement of the institution. Credits earned at the institution may not transfer to all other institutions.