- Social work education at Saint Louis University began in 1930 in the wake of the nation's stock market crash. It emerged as one of the first social work program in the region. This undergraduate program, a part of the School of Sociology, was established under the leadership of Father Joseph C. Husslein, S.J. Father Husslein was considered by his contemporaries as a pioneer in American Catholic social thought. He popularized Catholic social teaching and produced the largest body of American Catholic social writings in his time. Vigorously attacking the abuses of capitalism, he used scripture to confront social injustice. To support his cause, he authored English translations of the social encyclicals of Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI.
- The social work program was accredited in 1933 by the American Association of Schools of Social Work. Because the field of social work was trying to further professionalize at that time, the accrediting body recommended that the undergraduate program be converted to a master's level program. Based on this recommendation, SLU converted its social work program to a master level degree.
- The social work program offered late afternoon and early evening classes not available in other schools. As a result, the program drew men and women from throughout the nation to pursue social work degrees.
- The social work program became the first department at SLU to accept an African American student.
- Father Shiller succeeded Father Husslin and directed the School for the next 23 years.
- The social work program was admitted as an accredited charter member of the Council on Social Work Education.
- Father Coughlin became director of the social work program in 1963, a position he held for the next 11 years.
- The social work program separated from the Graduate School to become an autonomous School of Social Work with its own Dean.
- The School of Social Work moved into its new and current home, Tegeler Hall. It is named after Jerome F. Tegeler, a 1929 SLU graduate and member of the Board of Trustees whose generous donation made the new structure a reality. His son, Timothy Tegeler, continues the family's commitment to the School. His financial contributions have been significant in assuring that Tegeler Hall is maintained as a modern, well-equipped, state-of-the art building.
- The School of Social Work added a bachelor of science in social work. The social work program originally started as an undergraduate degree, but in 1933 the program was changed to a master's level degree.
- The School of Social Work created the Doerr Center for Social Justice Education and Research. Father William Hutchison, Dean from 1984 to 1995, collaborated with Dr. Susan Tebb, Dean 1995 to 2007, to create the Doerr Center for Social Justice Education and Research. The Center was initially funded by a generous gift from Emmett J. and Mary Martha Doerr. The Center hosts a wide range of activities to support social justice.
- The School of Social Work joined the College of Education and Public Service as one of five professional programs.
- The School of Social Work added evening undergraduate program. Dr. Donald Linhorst, PhD, became the Director of the School.
- The School of Social Work added a continuing education program.
- The School of Social Work added the first off-campus MSW program.
- The School of Social Work added programs in Applied Behavior Analysis.
- The Schools of Public Health and Social Work combined to form the College for Public Health & Social Justice. The School of Social Work also added the Criminology and Criminal Justice program.
Today the school continues to offer several course formats providing a curricular structure that integrates practice, theory and research in a part-time or full-time schedule.