About SP2

For more than 100 years, SP2 has been a powerful force for good in the world, working towards social justice and social change through research and practice. Students are encouraged to embrace the interdisciplinary opportunities that SP2 and the University of Pennsylvania have to offer.

Read more about SP2’s mission.

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania campus with the Philadelphia skyline

An Ivy League university established in 1740, Penn emerged as a revolutionary institution that sought to expand higher education beyond theological training. Benjamin Franklin, the University’s founder, envisioned Penn as a place to educate the policymakers, entrepreneurs, and public servants whose passions would shape a young city and a new nation. Charged with never divorcing the pursuit of knowledge from its implications for practical good, Franklin’s university would forever change the nature of American education.

Today, Penn bears the indelible mark of its founder, leveraging its world-class resources in the continued pursuit of peerless intellectual inquiry and commitment to social good. Grounded in an ethos of inclusion, innovation, and impact, Penn challenges its students and faculty to integrate their wide-ranging bodies of knowledge and experience for the benefit of our local, national, and global communities.

Its four undergraduate and twelve graduate schools – all united on one beautiful, historic campus – nurture an unparalleled academic life among the scholars and innovators who call Penn home.

Learn more about the University of Pennsylvania.

Degree Programs

SP2 students learn from faculty and one another across distinctive but complementary programs. Experiences are further strengthened through the resources that students can access throughout the University of Pennsylvania. The practical and analytical training that students receive is superb and empowers graduates to become much more effective professionals, citizens, and social leaders in an amazingly diverse world.

MSW student and child sit in window

Fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the MSW program educates social workers for leadership roles in developing and providing services to individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations in local, national, and global arenas. Penn’s MSW program is one of the country’s oldest and most respected social work programs. Rooted in a commitment to social justice and guided by renowned faculty, the MSW program offers small classes and exceptional professional preparation through its emphasis on field education. Students take advantage of the benefits of an Ivy League university, including interdisciplinary courses, dual degree programs, extracurricular opportunities, and an international alumni network.

The MSW can be completed in these formats: Advanced Standing (10-month)Full-Time (2-year)Part-Time (3-year), and Employed Practitioner (3-year).

Certificate & Specialization Options

SP2 places great emphasis on interdisciplinary study and offers certificate programs to enable students to study in-depth across conventional departmental or program boundaries.

Dual Degree Options

Among the many ways SP2 collaborates with colleagues at Penn’s other 11 professional and graduate schools is through offering a variety of dual degree masters programs.

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Contact

Admissions
apply@sp2.upenn.edu
215.746.1934

Students during annual MSSP trip to DC

The MSSP prepares students for policy leadership positions in government, philanthropy, research institutes, nonprofits, and more. Students learn to produce critically-oriented, evidence-informed policy solutions that aim to increase equality, promote equity, and forge social change.

The MSSP prepares professionals with the knowledge base and analytical skills to participate in policy analysis, creation, and evaluation. Through a 10-course unit program of study, students learn from faculty policy experts as well as their peers. MSSP graduates are in high demand in governmental and non-governmental policy settings because of their theoretical knowledge and practical skills, gained in part through the 150-hour policy internship. In addition to the core MSSP coursework, students are permitted to take electives in other Schools at Penn, providing students with an interdisciplinary experience.

Social policy addresses problems relating to economic, educational, and health inequality with a particular concern for racial/ethnic and gender disparities. It focuses on systems including health care, housing, schools, work, immigration, incarceration, and violence at the local, state, federal, and global levels. Social policy initiatives and outcomes actively attend to social issues of equity, equality, and adequacy.

The MSSP can be completed either Full-Time (11 months) or Part-Time (2.5 years).

Certificate Options

SP2 places great emphasis on interdisciplinary study and offers certificate programs to enable students to study in-depth across conventional departmental or program boundaries.

Dual Degree Options

Among the many ways SP2 collaborates with colleagues at Penn’s other 11 professional and graduate schools is through offering a variety of dual degree masters programs.

Learn More

Contact

Group of students in class

The MSSP+DA provides cutting-edge training for highly sought-after professionals in the growing field of data analytics for social policy. Students engage in core social policy courses, as well as learn core training and skills in the programming and processing of data structures, applications of machine learning and predictive analytics, spatial analytics, and telling stories for a broader audience via data visualization, and the conceptual foundations of ​equitable and ethical practices of data science. The MSSP+DA is a STEM-designated degree.

Throughout the program, the data science material is taught in relationship with the various theories, approaches, and domains of social policy analysis. The MSSP+DA also provides students with competitive and cutting-edge opportunities for policy internships in data analytics, positioning graduates to work in the fast growing and developing world of data analytics for social policy.

Social policy addresses problems relating to economic, educational, and health inequality with a particular concern for racial/ethnic, gender, and class disparities. It focuses on systems including health care, housing, schools, work, immigration, incarceration, violence, and algorithmic governance at the local, state, federal, and global levels. Social policy initiatives and outcomes actively attend to social issues of equity, equality, and justice.

Curriculum

The MSSP+DA curriculum is spread throughout 12 courses (in 3 semesters) and an internship. Students will have the opportunity to focus on statistical analysis, and will learn programming languages such as R,  Python, Tableau, GIS, and ArcGIS. Students will also participate in the non-credit Data for Equitable Justice Lab, where they will be able to develop and engage in practical cutting-edge policy research.

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NPL student in classroom

The world needs innovative approaches from impactful leaders to address its most complex social challenges. The NPL program educates nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs for mission-driven careers, by combining theory and practice to help them enact positive social change across the sector — from traditional nonprofits and charitable foundations to social enterprises and international NGOs. Our students come from various academic and professional backgrounds — including current nonprofit professionals, professionals from other sectors shifting careers, and individuals looking to launch their careers or social impact ventures. They bring passion for community development, education, the environment, arts and culture, and more to the classroom to unite around creating social impact.

The NPL program can be completed either on-campus or online, Full-Time (10 months) or Part-Time (2.5 years). There is also flexibility to take online and on-campus courses together to create your own hybrid program.

Program Features

  • 10 credits of curriculum tailored to meet students’ individual learning goals
    • Core courses, such as Social Finance, Leadership, Fundraising, & Social Entrepreneurship
    • Elective courses, such as Design Thinking for Social Impact & Building Nonprofits that Thrive
  • Esteemed faculty and instructors who are active leaders in the global nonprofit sector
  • The Leadership Practicum — a placement with a nonprofit or social impact organization including dedicated mentorship

Certificate Program

SP2 places great emphasis on interdisciplinary study and offers certificate programs to enable students to study in-depth across conventional departmental or program boundaries. NPL students can earn a Certificate in Law or a Graduate Certificate in Health Care Innovation.

Dual Degree Programs

Among the many ways SP2 collaborates with colleagues at Penn’s other 11 professional and graduate schools is through offering a variety of dual degree masters programs.

Partnerships

The NPL program promotes interdisciplinary collaboration by offering five partnerships with local and international institutions.

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PhD graduates pose on Commencement day

The PhD program develops leaders in academia and research by fostering scholarly energy, collaboration, and creativity. The program encourages academic rigor while being open to diverse perspectives and approaches to social work, social welfare research, social policy, social theory, and social justice.

The PhD is an interdisciplinary program which prepares students to be scholars and researchers who can identify social problems and potential solutions in the US and abroad. Each year the program enrolls four to six students with a proven record of academic excellence and demonstrated potential to contribute to the field.

Curriculum

In the first two years, students complete their coursework and research apprenticeships. In addition to learning fundamental content and research methodologies at SP2, students can also take courses at most other schools or departments at Penn: Wharton, Law, Sociology, Education, Communication, Nursing, Anthropology, and more.

The last two years of the program are dedicated to gaining research and teaching experience while completing the dissertation. In addition, interested students can earn a certificate in teaching from Penn’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Upon graduation, the typical student has multiple publications and some teaching experience.

Each student is supported financially by SP2 in the form of tuition, fees, individual health insurance, and a nine-month research or teaching stipend for the four years.

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Online classroom setting

The DSW prepares clinical experts, inspired teachers, and real-world scholars for leadership in advanced social work practice and teaching. Students earn the doctorate in three years without career disruption.

Penn’s DSW program is designed for experienced, accomplished, and ambitious MSW-level social workers who want to advance their education and career by earning a practice doctorate. The program’s hybrid distance format allows students from across the country to take advantage of a world-class Ivy League learning community without having to commute or relocate.

Curriculum

Classes are taught face-to-face, in real time — through sophisticated video-streaming technology, and two, week-long campus immersion experiences. This makes for a dynamic learning community that is highly interactive, relational, and accessible.

The core curriculum engages students in high level learning and scholarship that challenges them to think and write systematically, critically, and creatively about social work theory, practice, and knowledge. In the second year of the program, the curriculum focuses on the latest advances in social work practice and teaching. Faculty experts offer cutting-edge content on topics that include: trauma informed theory and practice; relational therapy; family-based interventions; teaching; and leadership in social work practice.

By the end of year three, students produce a published dissertation that positions them as content experts and contributes to the professional practice knowledge base.

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Study & Research

SP2 faculty & students bring a broad range of real-world expertise and interdisciplinary focus to the classroom. Research transforms policy and shapes best-practices on international, federal, and local levels. Research and activism stretch across the social sciences and the humanities in ways that link nuanced methodological inquiries and important research questions to attempts at real-world problem-solving. Scholarship at SP2 is focused around social innovation, impact, & justice.

Explore SP2’s research centers.

Research at SP2 explores topics such as:

Actionable intelligence

Aging

Child welfare

Clinical theory & practice

Community mobilization

Criminal justice

Cultural change

Data analytics

Difference

Differences in ability

Domestic violence

Ethnographic methods

Evidence-based practice

Faith-based social services

Foster care

Gender

Gerontology

Global human rights

Globalization

Group work

Gun policy

Health care

Homelessness

Immigrant rights

Interventions for youth

Jewish communal service

LGBTQ

Maltreatment

Mass incarceration

Mental dis/ability

Mental health

Nonprofit management

Philanthropy

Poverty

Race & racism

Recidivism

Schools & education

Social entrepreneurship

Social history

Social welfare

Substance use

Trauma

Urban food deserts

Urban studies

Veterans

Volunteerism

Welfare

Workforce development

Scholarly Interests in Service to the Public Good

Ezekiel Dixon-Roman at his book launch and discussion in fall 2017.

The SP2 faculty upholds Penn’s commitment to engage locally and globally. Internationally regarded for producing cutting-edge research, our distinguished scholars, practitioners, and policy advisors bring a broad range of real-world expertise and interdisciplinary focus to the classroom setting. The research of the SP2 faculty is transforming policy and shaping best-practices on international, federal, and local levels.

Although we are an Ivy League institution, our faculty members are not stuck in anyone’s proverbial ivory tower. The faculty’s important research and activism stretch across the social sciences and the humanities in ways that link nuanced methodological inquiries and important research questions to attempts at real-world problem-solving.

SP2 faculty members are readily available to students. They are inspirational instructors and supportive mentors and advisors, helping students to approach problems in innovative and creative ways.

View SP2’s faculty.

A Commitment to Understanding & Embracing Diversity

Diversity in its myriad forms – varied identities, experiences, and histories – is valued at SP2. The School strives to be as inclusive as possible, valuing differences of opinion and attempting to foster an environment where we think openly, honestly, sincerely, and deeply about the questions and concerns that both unite and divide us.

For our faculty, students, and staff, diversity is a multifaceted concept that includes careful treatment of questions about how differences linked to race, sexuality, gender, religion, ideology, mental illness, ethnicity, class, age, and so much more systematically hierarchize us. The questions we deal with are some of the biggest in the academy, and many seem intractable. We recognize that we have the best chance of doing justice to our concerns by embodying a truly diverse and inclusive space for re-imagining our social world.

SP2’s ability to produce cutting-edge research and to train trailblazing students is predicated, in part, on our commitment to faculty diversity of various kinds. As a truly Franklinian institution devoted “to the advancement of more effective, efficient, and just human services through education, research, and civic engagement,” our school and its faculty should reflect the peoples and cultures of those with whom we and our graduates work. SP2 educates students to work in a diverse world.

Learn more about SP2’s commitment to diversity.

Our Alumni

Dean's Alumni Advisory Board

The reach of SP2’s mission and work does not end at the Philadelphia city lines. Profoundly conscious of the need to empower agents of social justice in communities the world over, SP2 takes seriously its responsibility to prepare students for social change leadership both nationally and internationally. Alumni take their gifts, skills, and knowledge to all sectors of society, connecting the dots between issues that are local and international, intimate and institutional.

Meet some of SP2’s alumni.

Next Steps

Prospective students are encouraged to attend an information session, visit us at a graduate school fair, or schedule a pre-application meeting to gain more insight.

Begin Application

SP2 News

Cover of Tell Me How It Ends

Student Life

SP2 Announces Inaugural Race and Social Justice Fellows

Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) is pleased to announce the selection of two exemplary MSW students as...

Image of Mackenzie Fierceton

Student Life

SP2 Student Awarded Prestigious Rhodes Scholarship

University of Pennsylvania May graduate who is currently completing her master’s degree at Penn's School of Social Policy & Practice...

Faculty & Research

Associate Dean of Enrollment Management & Global Outreach Receives Years of Service Award

Mary Mazzola, MSW, EdD, associate dean for enrollment management and global outreach at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice...

Valeria Zeballos Doubinko, MSSP '21

Student Life

MSSP+DA Student Named 2020-21 Perry World House Graduate Associate

Valeria Zeballos Doubinko, MSSP ’21, has been selected to join the 2020-21 cohort of Perry World House Graduate Associates. A...

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