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.

Diversity of students and faculty is of paramount importance to our department, school, and the University of Pennsylvania. For more information, please read more here and here.

Applications are accepted mid-September through December 15th annually for the following year.

If you have specific questions regarding the program or your application, please contact the PhD Coordinator.

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.

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.

The PhD is a full-time 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.

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.

Information session dates are available here.

See here for information, particularly for the 2021 admission cycle.

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

Our program begins once per year for the fall session only.

We accept 3-6 students each year.

We no longer offer a dual degree program.

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

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.

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.

SP2 News

Image of Alicia Chatterjee

Student Life, Alumni Stories

PSCSW Awards for Clinical Excellence Recognizes PhD Student

Alicia Chatterjee, PhD candidate and MSW graduate at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), recently won a Pennsylvania Society...

Jennifer Prah Ruger

Faculty & Research

Jennifer Prah Ruger Named Hastings Center Fellow

Two faculty from the University of Pennsylvania, Scott D. Halpern of the Perelman School of Medicine and Jennifer Prah Ruger of the School of Social Policy & Practice,...

2021 Annual Giving guide cover

Faculty & Research, Gifts & Giving

2021 Annual Guide: High Impact Giving in the Age of COVID

COVID-19 made 2020 a year like no other. Infections and hospitalizations continue to spike. The most effective, widely implemented tool...

Caster building

Faculty & Research, Student Life

School of Social Policy & Practice Launches SP2 Social Justice Scholars Program

Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has established the first ever SP2 Social Justice Scholars Program, geared towards...

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