Coursework is designed to provide students with core knowledge and skills as well as the opportunity to develop an area of specific expertise. Papers and projects in the core courses combined with the strategic selection of electives allow for a broad understanding of the field as well as deep study in the theoretical and empirical aspects of an area of specialization.

The first six core (required) courses – SWRK 803811852, and 855, and MSSP 630 and 897 or an approved equivalent sequence of statistics courses – typically are completed in the first year.  Students are next required to take SWRK 861SWRK 968 and a theory course selected in conjunction with the advisor. The proseminar, SWRK 901, is required each semester until the dissertation proposal is successfully defended.

Students work with their academic advisors to develop an individualized plan for five electives. Electives can be taken (on the graduate level) in any department at the University of Pennsylvania. At least one of these electives must be an advanced methods course, such as advanced statistical methods or qualitative research methodology.

Courses, in the suggested sequence, are listed below.* Click on the course number to see a description of a course.

 Fall SemesterSpring Semester
First YearSWRK 803 History & Philosophy of Social Welfare

SWRK 852 Social Welfare Research Methods

MSSP 630 Quantitative Reasoning

SWRK 901 Proseminar
SWRK 811 Social Theory

SWRK 855 Advanced Research Methods

MSSP 897 Applied Linear Modeling

SWRK 901 Proseminar

Second YearSWRK 968 Social Welfare & Social Economics

SWRK 901 Proseminar

Theory course or elective


SWRK 861 Policy Analysis

SWRK 901 Proseminar

Theory Course or Elective


Courses may be offered in varying order and year of program. Students are notified of such arrangements well in advance.

*Subject to change.

**At least one elective course must be an advanced methods course taught at the graduate level, chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

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