Education changes lives. Change yours. Change others'.

  • Group of women in India

    Student Life

    The Economic Impact of India’s Self-help Group Movement

    Last January, Allison Russell, a PhD candidate in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice spent 20 days in southwestern India traveling throughout the state of Karnataka and visiting Bangalore, Mangalore, and many small towns and villages in...

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  • Headshot of PhD graduate Samira Ali

    Faculty & Research

    Samira Ali Awarded $5 Million Grant for Work on HIV/AIDS

    If you told Samira Ali that she would end up in Houston, Texas, her hometown, doing the research work that took her around the world, she would have strongly disagreed. However, that is exactly what...

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  • PhD graduates pose for a photo

    Faculty & Research

    Current Academic Job Market Candidates

    Meet the PhD candidates who are currently searching for academic jobs. ...

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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.

Director's Welcome

Director's Welcome

Director's Welcome

Read a message from PhD Director Dr. Femida Handy.

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Admissions & Application

Admissions & Application

Admissions & Application

Review admissions requirements for the PhD program.

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Curriculum

Curriculum

Curriculum

Coursework is designed to provide students with core knowledge and skills as well as the opportunity to develop an area of specific expertise.

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Resources

Resources

Resources

Resources for current PhD students include dissertation forms, additional funding opportunities, family matters, graduates' employment, and academic job market candidates

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Contact Information

Contact Information

Contact Information

View contact information for Admissions and PhD program staff.

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SP2 News

Jack B. Lewis

Alumni Stories

What I Did With My DSW Degree: Jack B. Lewis

For years, social work professionals have furthered their careers as innovators, educators, and leaders in the field with degree programs...

Adamseged Abebe and Penn President Amy Gutmann

Student Life

NPL Student Named Inaugural Global Rhodes Scholar, Sets Sights on Development

Penn World Scholar. Perry World House Student Fellow. Paul Robeson and Anna Julia Cooper Scholar. Lipman Family Prize Fellow. Founder...

Image from Aged Homelessness Crisis report

Faculty & Research

New Report Predicts Aging Homeless Population Will Nearly Triple by 2030

Experts Discuss Solutions to Offset Instability and Costs The population of individuals who are homeless and elderly is expected to nearly...

Rumyana Kudeva

Student Life, Alumni Stories

DSW Without Borders: How One SP2 Alumna Steered a Global Course to Success

From winning the green card lottery in Bulgaria to securing a teaching appointment in Australia, Rumyana Kudeva, DSW ‘15, is proof...

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