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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

SP2 News

SaraKay Smullens

Alumni Stories

SP2 Alumna Receives Society for Social Work Leadership’s 2021 Kermit B. Nash Award

SaraKay Smullens, a 1965 alumna of the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Penn’s School of Social Policy &...

Loran Grishow-Schade

Alumni Stories

SP2 Alum Honored for Ongoing Gender Identity Research, Work

For years, Loran Grishow-Schade, MSW ’20, MSSP ’21, has proven to be a prolific leader and fully-immersed pioneer in work...

MSW Student Alisa Branch

Student Life

“Always Something New to Know”: MSW Student Alisa Branch on Being a Non-Traditional Learner

Even after a three-decade career in the human services field, Alisa Branch still felt that she had more to learn,...

New SP2 faculty, clockwise from left: Tamara Cadet, PhD; Yoosun Park, PhD; Meredith Doherty, PhD; and Milan AbiNader, PhD

Faculty & Research

SP2 Welcomes Four New Faculty Members

Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) has announced the hiring of four new faculty members, who will begin...

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