Bring your intellect, curiosity, and creativity to tackling complex social challenges.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare (PhD) Program will transform you into a scholar well-equipped to identify and solve social problems – both close to home and around the world. Grounded in innovation and academic rigor, the SP2 PhD allows you to explore diverse perspectives and approaches to social work, social welfare research, social policy, social theory, and social justice

The SP2 Difference

A highly selective program

Instruction and mentoring from world-class faculty researchers

Access to Penn’s vast research resources, and access to everything our world-class Ivy League university has to offer

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Financial support in the form of tuition, fees, individual health insurance, and a nine-month research or teaching stipend

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World-Class Faculty


Micheal L. Shier, PhD

“I received a really high level of support and mentorship during my PhD. The faculty demonstrate a genuine concern for the students in the PhD program and prepare them for the next steps that follow once they’ve completed the program.”

Career Success

Our PhD graduates go on to hold prestigious positions in academia, government, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, research firms, and more. Here are just some of the places where our recent graduates have found full-time employment:

  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of the Inspector General
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the United States Attorney
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center to End Homelessness
  • Columbia University, School of Nursing
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem, School of Social Work
  • Hong Kong University, Department of Social Work
  • McGill University, School of Social Work
  • National Institute on Poverty
  • New York University, School of Social Work
  • Rutgers University, School of Social Work
  • Temple University, Graduate School of Social Work
  • University of Massachusetts, School of Public Policy
  • University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine
  • University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
  • University of Toronto, School of Social Work
  • Yonsei University

Ready to join the PhD community?

Related News

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2022 Social Policy & Practice Awards

Congratulations to this year’s Social Policy & Practice award winners. The following individuals will be recognized for their outstanding achievements at SP2 Commencement on Saturday, May 14th, 2022. School of Social […]

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SP2 Student Receives Marymount Fellowship

Sarah Gzesh, MSW, and PhD student in Social Welfare was recently informed of a nomination by the School of Social Policy & Practice, and subsequent selection by a faculty committee, […]

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SP2 Honors Class of 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees

On October 23rd, Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) celebrated the Hall of Fame class of 2021 with a ceremony at The Study, a hotel at 33rd and […]