Admission FAQs

What is the application deadline?

The MSW, MSSP, and NPL programs accept applications on a rolling basis: the application for each program will remain open until we have filled that program’s entering class. The priority deadlines for each program are as follows:

Advanced Standing MSW: January 15th
Full-Time and Part-Time MSW: January 25th
MSSP: February 1st
NPL: February 1st

Even if these dates have passed, it is likely that we have seats remaining in the entering class, and we encourage you to submit your application as long as the application to your program of choice remains open. The sooner your application is complete, the sooner we will be able to render your admissions decision.

The PhD and DSW programs do not have rolling admissions policies.

In order for your PhD in Social Welfare application to be considered, we must have received your application and all transcripts by December 15th; letters of recommendation and test scores must be received by January 15th.

In order for your Doctorate in Clinical Social Work application to be considered, we must have received all transcripts, official test scores, and letters of recommendation by February 15th.

What is the application fee?

If you apply to any master’s-level program by 11:59 PM on December 31st, you will be able to avail yourself of a reduced application fee of $25. After December 31st, the application fee for these programs increases to $65. The application fee for the DSW program is $65 and for the PhD in Social Welfare is $80 regardless of the time of application submission. Please note that application fees are not refundable.

When does the application open?

The online application for all master’s and doctoral programs opens in mid to late September of the year prior to your first term at SP2. You can access the online application by clicking here.

The online application won’t let me proceed until I complete a certain page, but I’m not ready to complete the page at this time. What can I do?

There are two application sections that all applicants must complete before the online system will allow them to continue: “Program Information” and “Personal Information,” which are the first and second items in the grey, left-hand sidebar. Once you have completed these two sections, you will be able to access all subsequent sections of the application.

If you reach a section of the application and realize that you do not currently have the information necessary to complete it, you are still able to proceed. Using the links in the grey, left-hand sidebar, simply click on the last section that you were able to complete. Once there, you can use the links in the same sidebar to skip over the section that you can’t currently complete and proceed to subsequent sections of the application.

I can’t find the personal statement prompt in the online application. Where is it?

The personal statement prompt is located in the “Supporting Documents” section of the online application. If you are having difficulty proceeding to the “Supporting Documents” section because you have not yet completed a previous section, please see the question above (“The application won’t let me proceed until I complete a certain page…”).

How do I apply for a dual degree program?

If you are interested in applying for any of our dual degree programs, including the MSW/MSSP or MSW/NPL dual degree programs, please view the Information for Dual Degree Applicants. Please note that two applications cannot be completed concurrently; applicants must submit their first application before they can begin their second application.

How do I submit my transcripts?

Applicants must submit transcripts detailing all undergraduate and postgraduate study via the online application. This includes coursework conducted at an applicant’s degree-granting institution(s) as well as in study abroad programs and at institutions out of which an applicant may have transferred. Applicants should upload copies of their official transcripts (i.e. not screenshots from a student record or student grade system) that clearly display their name, dates of enrollment, the names of all courses in which they enrolled, and the credits and grades awarded for each class. Applicants should not mail hard copies of transcripts to the School for purposes of application review.

Applicants who have taken one year or more of coursework outside of the United States must also submit a third-party evaluation of their international transcripts.

Applicants who are admitted to and choose to attend SP2 will be required to send official copies of all academic transcripts prior to matriculation.

Where should I send my official transcripts?

Applicants should request that their previous or current institutions send copies of their official transcripts directly to the applicant.The applicant will then scan and upload these transcripts into the online application. Official transcripts should NOT be sent to us during the application review process.

Enrolled students must have official transcripts sent directly from their institution to our office in order to matriculate.

I took one year or more of coursework outside of the United States. How do I get my transcript evaluated?

Transcripts reflecting more than two semesters of study at institutions based outside of the United States must be evaluated on a course-by-course basis by a third-party evaluation service such as WES or Educational Perspectives. This applies even if the studies were conducted in English and even if the transcript is printed in English.

Applicants with these international transcripts should upload their university-issued transcripts into the online application and order their official, third-party evaluations sent to the School of Social Policy & Practice. Please note that these international transcripts cannot be considered official until they have been evaluated and that their respective applications cannot be reviewed until the evaluations have arrived in the Admissions Office.

I studied abroad as an undergraduate and completed a semester or a year’s worth of coursework outside of the United States. Do I need to provide a transcript from my study abroad institution? Does it need to be evaluated by a third-party service?

While we require transcripts reflecting the credits and grades earned for all of your prior coursework—including coursework undertaken while abroad—we do not require third-party evaluation of foreign transcripts covering one academic year or less of study. As long as it includes the course names, credits, and grades from your time abroad, we will accept either a transcript from your home institution or an unevaluated transcript directly from your study abroad institution.

I am an international applicant, but I attended a degree program in a primarily English-speaking country other than the United States. Do I still need to have my transcript evaluated by a third-party service?

Yes; if your transcript is from an institution based outside of the United States, you will need to have it evaluated on a course-by-course basis by a third-party evaluation service such as WES or Educational Perspectives. This applies even if your studies were conducted in English and even if your transcript is printed in English. Please note that international transcripts cannot be considered official until they have been evaluated.

How many letters of recommendation are required?

Each of our programs require three letters of recommendation. For information on the requirements for the letters, please see each program’s application requirements page:

MSW Application Requirements
MSSP Application Requirements
NPL Application Requirements
PhD Application Requirements
DSW Application Requirements

Can I submit additional letters of recommendation?

All application submission and review is completed online. The online application system only accepts three letters of recommendation, so we are unable to accept any additional references.

Can I submit letters through Interfolio or another dossier service?

All letters of recommendation must be submitted through our online application, which asks references to respond to a few simple questions regarding their interactions with the applicant as well as upload a written letter. Because of the format of the recommendations, we are NOT able to accept letters of recommendation through Interfolio or another dossier service. The recommendation form must be completed and a letter must be submitted by each of your references.

Do I have to take the GRE?

GRE scores are not required for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.

If applicants to the NPL or PhD program would like to submit official GRE scores, they will be considered as one aspect of the holistic review process. SP2’s Institutional Code is 2926 and Department Code is either 5001 or 0000.

The NPL program will accept either GMAT or LSAT scores in lieu of GRE scores. GMAT and LSAT scores cannot be officially reported electronically; applicants submitting these scores in lieu of GRE scores should upload official copies of their score reports into their applications.

The MSW, MSSP, and DSW programs do not require GRE scores.

I am an international applicant who spent time working or studying in the United States. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?

Yes; due to the academic rigor of SP2’s degree programs, we require all applicants whose first language is not English to submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores earned within the last two years. Our minimum on the TOEFL is 100 and our minimum on the IELTS is 7.5. Our TOEFL Institutional Code is 2926 and our Department Code is 95.

Is an admissions interview required?

The admissions interview is an aspect of our admissions process that differentiates us from most other professional and graduate schools. This is a requirement for all applicants who meet minimal admission criteria for the MSW, MSSP, NPL, and DSW programs. You will be contacted by the Admissions Office or by the staff of your program to schedule an interview if your application is complete and meets basic standards for admissions. The components of a complete application vary depending on program requirements but always include transcripts and three letters of recommendation. Interviews are conducted via Zoom.

What should I expect?

The interview is a two-way process – it gives us the opportunity to learn more about you while at the same time enabling you to gather more information about the program, the School, and the University of Pennsylvania. Depending on the program, you will be interviewed by the director, associate director, part-time member of the program’s faculty, or program alum.

Admission interviews are usually 30 to 45 minutes in duration. The interviewer will tell you about the program and ask questions pertaining to your application. The interviewer is responsible for anticipating questions from the faculty reviewer and/or the Admissions Committee who ultimately make the final decision about your application. Therefore, some of questions posed to you might be redundant to what you have written in your application essay.

How should I prepare for the admission interview?

Although there is not a lot of preparation needed for the interview, you may want to consider the following:

  • Review your essay and be prepared to discuss what you wrote;
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer;
  • Be on time (sign into Zoom a few minutes early);
  • Dress professionally (wear what you feel is appropriate for a job interview);
  • Consider what you feel you bring to the program;
  • Relax and be yourself.

How do I apply for scholarships and financial aid?

There is no separate application for Penn School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) financial aid, which consists primarily of merit-based scholarships and of need-based grants. Simply indicate in the online application that you would like to be considered for financial aid, and we will evaluate your application for both need-based grants and merit-based scholarships. Should you be offered admission, your acceptance letter will include information about your total award from SP2.

PhD specific tuition and financial information can be accessed here.

Will applying for financial aid impact my admissions decision?

Not at all. Our admissions decisions are made on a “need-blind” basis without regard for an applicant’s request for financial aid consideration. Requesting consideration for school-based scholarships and grants, therefore, has absolutely no impact on an applicant’s chances for admission.

Additional questions about the admissions process? Contact the Admissions Team at or 215.746.1934.

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