Research Opportunities

Research in the Curriculum

All MSW students are required to take SWRK 615: Introduction to Social Work Research as well as a Research Option of their choice. This curricular requirement ensures that students acquire the basic research skills for enhancing their own practice and acquire an appreciation of the role of research in theory development. Students learn the range of methodological strategies available for social work research while developing a commitment to the use of research in the student’s own area of specialization as well as in dealing with problems of racism and other oppressions in contemporary American society.

Due to the rigor of the regular MSW curriculum (3 full days of field placement and 4 classes), most MSW students choose not to pursue additional research opportunities. Additional opportunities are offered in two formats, which are dependent upon field placement availability, faculty projects, and available research funding.

Research in Field Placements

Some field placements are available in agencies focused on research and policy. Advanced year students are eligible to pursue these field placement opportunities; in these settings, students may have an opportunity to focus on data collection, a research role in policy development, and conduct or design evaluation research. Field placement areas of interest may include:

  • Aging
  • Child welfare
  • Criminal justice
  • Drug & alcohol treatment
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Housing/Homelessness
  • Mental health
  • Philanthropy

Please note that opportunities in these areas of interest are not guaranteed every year.

Research with Faculty

Some of SP2’s standing faculty provide research opportunities for a limited number of advanced year (2nd year) MSW students. Projects often include data collection, interviews, and literature reviews. In the past, students have co-authored papers and co-presented research findings.

In previous years, students have participated in projects related to:

  • Child welfare
  • Domestic violence
  • Gender/sexuality
  • Homelessness
  • Mental health interventions
  • Race/racism
  • Youth aging out of foster care

The availability of research opportunities is dependent upon faculty projects and research funding. Students interested in participating in research opportunities should contact faculty directly.

SP2 News

Ezekiel Dixon-Roman at his book launch and discussion in fall 2017.

Faculty & Research

New Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational, & Mixed Methodologies

This month, Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) Associate Professor Ezekiel Dixon-Román, PhD, and others announced the launch...

Richard Gelles Receives SSWR Award

Faculty & Research

Richard Gelles Receives SSWR Social Policy Researcher Award

Richard J. Gelles, PhD, former dean of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), was honored for his distinguished...

Jeff Oppenheimer at ALS Association Dinner

Student Life

NPL Student Shares Advocacy Story at Annual ALS Dinner

“I bear witness to the strength of people who can’t move a muscle,” said Jeff Oppenheimer, addressing a gathering of...

Ram Cnaan of The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice

Faculty & Research

SP2 Professor Selected as Best Reviewer

Professor Ram Cnaan, MSW, PhD, director for the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research, was recently chosen as Best...

Discover More