What makes your PhD program unique?
We have stellar faculty who are very active in different areas of social welfare, largely engaging in multidisciplinary and international research including, but not limited to: mental health, queer studies, sex work, homelessness, incarceration, gerontology, and foster youth. Faculty also engage in issues related to social policy, nonprofits, volunteering, and philanthropy. See individual faculty profiles here.
Do you have a diverse student body?
When can I apply for the PhD in Social Welfare program?
Applications are accepted mid-September through December 15th annually for the following year.
Can I speak to someone about your PhD program?
If you have specific questions regarding the program or your application, please contact the PhD Coordinator.
Can I speak to a faculty member about my research interests?
Yes, we encourage you to reach out to our faculty in your area of interest. You can find our standing faculty bios and their contact information here.
Can I schedule an interview with someone in the department?
Interviews are not a part of the regular PhD application process. Applicants under final consideration may be contacted by the department to schedule a virtual interview.
What funding is available for your PhD program?
All admitted students receive a 4-year funding package from the School including tuition, fees, health insurance, and a generous monthly stipend for nine months.
Do you have a part-time or online PhD program?
The PhD is a full-time, on-campus program.
For those who prefer a more clinical program, we have a part-time, hybrid Doctorate in Clinical Social Work (DSW) program. The DSW program combines online coursework with intensive campus immersions and requires a completed MSW and at least two years of post-MSW experience.
What is the difference between the PhD in Social Welfare and the Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) programs at Penn?
The PhD in Social Welfare involves an interdisciplinary view of social problems, while the Doctorate in Clinical Social Work (DSW) is firmly rooted in social work. The DSW program requires two years of professional experience post-MSW.
Do you have an online information session or one I can attend on-campus?
Do I need to take the GRE?
What is the minimum score you accept for the GRE?
We do not have a set minimum score. While admission is competitive, our faculty like to consider each applicant on a holistic basis. Considerations include, but are not limited to: scores and grades, personal statement, research/professional experience, letters of recommendation, areas of research interests, etc. See here for 2021 application information
Does the PhD in Social Welfare program have a session beginning in the spring?
Our program begins once per year for the fall session only.
How many applicants do you accept to our program each year?
We accept 3-6 students each year.
Do you offer a MSW/PhD dual degree program?
We no longer offer a dual degree program.
Is there any support for those with families?
Yes! Penn Family Center offers space, resource information, and even grants* for financial assistance for childcare and/or dependent healthcare. More information is available here.
*need based, not guaranteed
For the application, what should my personal statement include? Are there any length requirements?
The application will provide prompts for your personal statement. Be sure to address why you would like to do a PhD, your career goals, what particular strengths of our program will help you meet your goals, and your areas of research interest. The personal statement should be double spaced and no longer than 1500 words.
For the application, what are the requirements, if any, for the writing sample?
Writing samples should reflect your ability to write at the PhD level. Examples include, but are not limited to: previously submitted academic assignments, a journal publication, a brief, a professional report, etc. Total pages should roughly be between 15-25 and may include more than one piece or a portion of a larger piece.
Can I apply if I am graduating with my master’s degree only this upcoming spring?
Yes, you may apply if you are currently in a master’s program, as long as complete your master’s degree before you would begin the PhD program. You should submit your master’s transcript to date with your application and explain that you will send your official transcript once you complete your master’s degree.