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  • Marquisha Lawrence Scott

    Student Life

    Support on the Ground: PhD Student Examines Where Faith Organizations and Social Work Intertwine

    Faith-based organizations often offer tangible forms of aid through initiatives such as disaster relief efforts and financial assistance programs. But as Marquisha Lawrence Scott, a PhD candidate at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice...

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  • 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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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

Stephanie R. Fenniri

Student Life

NPL Student Named 2019 New Leaders Council Fellow

Stephanie R. Fenniri, a student in the Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) program at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2),...

Image of Jason Miller being filmed

Faculty & Research

New Penn SP2-Wharton Professional Certificate Program

From Direct Practice to Social Work Leadership A new interdisciplinary collaboration between Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) and...

Alumni Stories

SP2 Alumni Honored at Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Awards

Two alumni of the Penn School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) were selected as winners in their respective categories...

U.S News & World Report

News

Penn School of Social Policy & Practice Ranked Among Best Graduate Schools by U.S News & World Report

The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has been named among the top 10 schools of...

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