Director’s Welcome

Headshot of Dr. Femida Handy

Thank you for your interest in the PhD Program in Social Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2).

SP2’s faculty and students are committed to carefully analyzing social problems and proposing effective, research-based solutions. Our School offers a confluence of diverse philosophies and approaches to social work, social welfare research, social policy, social theory, and social justice.

The world’s most intractable social problems can’t be solved from within any single discipline. They demand collaborations across fields and methods. Our PhD Program is a wonderful instantiation of that commitment to interdisciplinarity and rigorous scholarship—all put in service to the public good.

The world-class faculty who teach in our program represent a wide range of disciplines, including Social Work, Social Welfare, Sociology, Social Psychology, Psychometrics, Anthropology, Clinical Psychology, Public Administration, Organizational Behavior, Health Policy, and Economics.

SP2’s PhD program prepares students to be exceptional scholars and researchers, intellectual leaders in their fields. Each admitted student receives full tuition remission, a stipend (associated with research/teaching responsibilities), health insurance, and funds to cover several University fees (including those providing access to computer labs, Penn’s libraries, and more) for four years.

Many of our PhD graduates accept faculty posts in Schools of Social Work and Social Welfare. Or they go on to impactful jobs in governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, think tanks, research firms, other academic fields/disciplines, and more.

Each year, our graduate program enrolls four to six new PhD students with a proven record of academic excellence, students who demonstrate a strong potential to contribute to their field/s. The relatively small size of our highly selective program allows us to combine intellectual intimacy with the institutional resources and reach of a major research institution at one of the top universities in the world.

If, after reviewing the materials we’ve provided online, you believe that Penn is a good fit for your career goals, please do apply. You might also search for more information about some of the University’s family-friendly policies and about Philadelphia, an affordable and exciting East Coast city with a thriving arts and music scene.

Good luck with your application!

Femida Handy, BSc, MA, MES, PhD
Director, PhD in Social Welfare Program

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