Education changes lives. Change yours. Change others'.

Social problems are complex. The University of Pennsylvania PhD program in Social Welfare is designed to develop leaders in academia and research to identify both problems and potential solutions. We work hard to foster scholarly energy, collaboration, and creativity.

Most of our graduates go on to faculty posts in Schools of Social Work and Social Welfare. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of social workers is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.” As a growing academic field, multiple job offers are common.

Our graduates also are prepared to assume, as some have, positions in government, international organizations, research firms, and think tanks.

Grounded in the core components of Penn Compact 2020 – inclusion, innovation, and impact – the PhD program in Social Welfare educates a new generation of researchers, teachers, and leaders.

Our program is structured so that students can earn their PhD in four years.

  • Coursework is completed in the first two years. In addition to learning fundamental content and research skills at SP2, our PhD students can take courses in virtually any department at Penn.
  • The last two years are dedicated to gaining research and teaching experience while completing the dissertation. The typical student has multiple publications upon graduation and has teaching experience at the master’s level.

Our graduates are prepared to step confidently into their productive futures.

SP2 News

Headshot of Dr. Susan Sorenson

Faculty & Research

Faculty Tribute: SP2 Professor, Ortner Center Director Susan B. Sorenson Retiring in 2021

School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) professor Susan B. Sorenson, PhD, is taking early retirement at the end of...

Headshot of Dr. Mark Stern

Faculty & Research

Faculty Tribute: SP2 Professor Mark Stern Retiring in 2021

Penn School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) Professor Mark J. Stern will retire effective July 1, 2021. Professor Stern,...

tea light reflecting on hand in the dark

Faculty & Research, Student Life

Reflecting on Juneteenth

A Message from Dean Sally Bachman, PhD: As we approach Juneteenth, I am writing to encourage all members of Penn’s School...

Headshot of Dr. Roberta Iversen

Faculty & Research

Faculty Tribute: SP2 Associate Professor Roberta Rehner Iversen Retiring in 2021

Roberta (Bobbie) Iversen, PhD, MSS, an associate professor at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), is retiring at...

Discover More