The School of Social Service Administration (SSA) began its life as the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, founded by minister and social work educator Graham Taylor as the 'Social Science Center for Practical Training in Philanthropic and Social Work.'
In 1920, Edith Abbott and Sophonisba Breckenridge, research director at the Chicago School (both were living at at Hull House at this time) helped the school to relocate to the University of Chicago, where it became the first graduate-level programme in the field of social work in the US, renamed as the School of Social Service Administration. They were both deeply committed to professionalising social work, and this was a key way to doing so, as was the research that they undertook in the neighbourhood. Edith's sister Grace was also a Hull House resident and keen social work reformer.
In 1927, Abbott and Breckenridge founded the scholarly journal Social Service Review.
The SSA today offers both a two-year Master’s programme and a Doctoral programme in social work.