Degree Policies & Requirements

Degree Completion Requirements

All requirements for the MSSP degree must be completed within five years of the date of the student’s first admission. Generally, the requirements are completed within one year for full-time students and two to three years for part-time students. Students who leave the program for a year or more must contact the Associate Dean of Students in writing before returning to the program.

The MSSP degree is awarded to candidates who:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution of higher learning;
  • Have been duly admitted to the School of Social Policy & Practice; and
  • Have satisfactorily completed the prescribed program of study according to the regulations in force at the time of the student’s completion of the program, within five years of the date of his/her first admission to the School.

Credits to Complete the MSSP Program

Students in the MSSP Program take ten (10) MSSP credit units (CUs) plus an internship. See MSSP course of study for a list of required courses.

Students in the MSSP+DA Program take twelve (12) MSSP credit units (CU’s) plus an internship. See MSSP+DA course of study for a list of required courses.

Evaluation of Internship

In the MSSP programs, the Supervisor/Mentor’s feedback will be descriptive and is used primarily for the student’s learning.

Minimum Grades in Required Courses

MSSP Program

The required MSSP courses (as of fall 2018) are MSSP 628, MSSP 629, MSSP 630, MSSP 631, MSSP 632, MSSP 668, and MSSP 897.  A student in good standing who receives a grade lower than a C- in any of these courses must retake the course(s). If the course is a pre-requisite for another course, the student cannot proceed to the next course in the sequence until a grade no lower than a C- is earned in the pre-requisite course. If the student obtains a grade lower than a C- in one of the above-listed courses, he or she may retake that course once, as long as his or her non-academic performance is acceptable.

MSSP+DA Program

The required MSSP+DA courses (as of fall 2018) are MSSP 628, MSSP 629, MSSP 631, MSSP 634, MSSP 668, and MSSP 897, MSSP/SWRK 730, MSSP 710, as well as the following external courses, depending on the student’s chosen track: CIT 590, STAT 974, CIS 545, MUSA 507 and CIS 519. Similar to the MSSP program, a student in good standing who receives a grade lower than a C- in any of these courses must retake the course(s). If the course is a pre-requisite for another course, the student cannot proceed to the next course in the sequence until a grade no lower than a C- is earned in the pre-requisite course. If the student obtains a grade lower than a C- in one of the above-listed courses, he or she may retake that course once, as long as his or her non-academic performance is acceptable.

Academic Advising

An academic advisor will be assigned to each student. The advisor is available to help plan the student’s course of study, assist in course selection, provide consultation on academically related concerns, and monitor academic performance and progress. Group advising conferences with students may be held during the academic year and students will be notified of the dates and times. Students may also request individual advising meetings.

Required Non-Credit Courses

The MSSP program does not have any required non-credit courses.

The MSSP+DA program requires MSSP 606: Data for Equitable Justice Lab. Students are required to take at least 2 out of 3 semesters. The course is graded Pass/Fail.

Waiting Lists

We do not maintain waiting lists for courses that have reached their maximum enrollment (excluding global study abroad courses). If a course is closed, students may monitor Penn InTouch to see if a seat becomes available due to an enrolled student dropping the course. If a seat is available, students may register for it on their own at any time while the registration system is open.

Taking Courses in Other Departments

SP2 MSSP students are permitted to take up to two electives in other Penn schools and departments. Courses taken in other schools or departments must be graduate level (500 and above). Courses must be approved by the student’s academic advisor as relevant to the student’s educational plan and must have a value of one credit unit.

Joint Lectures

The MSSP and MSSP+DA programs do not have any joint lectures.

Transfer Credits

Transfer credits are not accepted for the MSSP program unless through an already approved Memorandum of Understanding between the School of Social Policy & Practice and the transferring university.

Independent Study

Independent studies provide a flexible opportunity for faculty and students to work together in pursuing a topic of special interest that is not sufficiently covered by other courses in the curriculum. The content of independent studies is highly specialized and, as such, requires a plan of study developed jointly by the student(s) and the supervising faculty member.

Plans for independent study should include: a statement of the issues(s) to be studied; a rationale for why the identified issue(s) should be pursued via an independent study; a statement of how the independent study fits into the student’s overall educational plan; a summary of the independent study’s major learning objectives; the methods to be used in carrying out the study; a workable plan; the educational “products” that will result from the study (normally a written report or paper); and the expected date by which the independent study will be completed.

The process for arranging an independent study requires approval of both the student’s academic advisor and a faculty member who has agreed to conduct the independent study. The procedures to be followed are:

  • The student discusses interest in doing an independent study with the academic advisor.
  • If the advisor concurs with the student’s submission, the advisor and student will discuss potential faculty sponsors.
  • If a faculty sponsor can be located, the student and faculty sponsor craft the specific plan, including learning objectives, content, and structure for the course.
  • The academic advisor informs the registrar that an independent study for the student has been approved.

On the rare occasions that a student is unable to schedule a regular School course, the educational advisor makes a recommendation to the MSSP Program Faculty Director who will try to identify a standing or adjunct faculty member able to supervise the course delivered as an independent study.

Waiver Exam

MSSP students may choose to take a waiver exam for MSSP 630: Quantitative Reasoning. The exam in offered prior to the start of the academic year during New Student Orientation. Students who pass the waiver exam may take an MSSP elective in its place. The MSSP 630 waiver exam encompasses all information covered in MSSP 630, including: statistics and probability; measures of central tendency and variability; inferential statistics and when and how to use them including significance testing; the distinction between correlational and causal inference; competence with R; and the ability to employ descriptive and inferential statistics in a policy report.

Class and Practicum Attendance

Classroom learning is a fundamental component of professional education. If a student is unable to attend either class or the practicum for other reasons, he/she should notify their class instructor(s) and/or practicum mentor. Most instructors have a strict absence policy; excessive absences can result in a lower course grade or course failure. Students who need to miss classes due to medical or family emergencies or other extenuating circumstances should contact their Academic Advisor as soon as possible.

Return from Voluntary Leave of Absence

Students notify the SP2 Registrar at sp2reg@sp2.upenn.edu with the request to return to their studies.

For a fall semester return, requests should be made before the end of March. For a spring semester return, requests should be made in September. Late requests to return from leave may result in limited course selection.

Students must contact their academic advisor prior to registering for courses.

Student Handbook

The SP2 Student Handbook outlines the policies pertaining to grading, registration, leaves of absence, tuition, finances, and more.

Go to the Student Handbook.

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