Three students sit smiling and conversing in a wood-paneled room. The student on the right is the most visible, while the others are behind a transparent blue layer of text.


Social Justice Scholars Program

Full-tuition scholarships and specialized, rigorous academic programming for master’s students

The Social Justice Scholars Program at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) is a competitive scholarship program with the aim of enhancing SP2’s ongoing commitment to the recruitment and retention of students with a particular interest in and demonstrated capacity for social justice leadership in their field. Social Justice Scholars will receive full tuition benefits, be supported through an enriched structure of mentorship and additional training opportunities, and be part of a dynamic cohort of scholars. 

Four students sit smiling and conversing at a round table outdoors on campus. The photo is behind a transparent white layer on which text appears.

“SP2 appealed to me as an institution that is invested in developing students that would be pillars of change in their communities.”

Skye Horbrook, MSSP+DA’23
Inaugural Social Justice Scholar

Frequently asked questions

How can I apply to the Social Justice Scholars Program at SP2?

No separate application is required.

Applicants to the Master of Social Work (MSW) or Master of Science in Social Policy (MSSP) must apply by December 1. Applicants to the Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) program must apply by December 15.

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 read more about how to apply to SP2 here or access the online application here.

Who is eligible for the Social Justice Scholars Program at SP2?

To be eligible for consideration, the applicant must have:

Preference will be given to candidates who:

  • Self-identify as BIPOC 
  • Graduated from a historically Black college or university (HBCU) or a minority-serving institution (MSI)

When was the Social Justice Scholars Program implemented at SP2?

SP2 welcomed the first cohort of Social Justice Scholars in the fall of 2021 and the second cohort in the fall of 2022.

A transformative $12.5 million commitment in support of SP2 announced in June 2022 will support the Social Justice Scholars Program and endow a new scholarship program focused on social innovation to be announced in spring of 2023. The commitment will fund 12 full-tuition scholarships annually in social justice and social innovation.

The support includes a $7.5 million commitment from an anonymous donor, one of the largest gifts ever made to SP2, to increase scholarships for graduate students who are committed to social innovation and social justice, including those from historically underrepresented backgrounds. This support is combined with an additional $5 million in matching funds from the University.

What is the significance of the transformative $12.5 million commitment in support of SP2?

The resources propel SP2’s mission and the heart of social justice at Penn, providing unprecedented support to produce the future leaders our world needs in social work, social policy, and nonprofit leadership, in an era in which inequities have been exacerbated.

SP2 is aiming to train the next generation of leadership that will create new pathways in social policy and practice. SP2 firmly believes that the knowledge, experience, and perspectives of a more diverse student body can help to forge new ways of approaching social problems and challenge the status quo. In today’s complex world, where injustice and inequity remain deeply entrenched, the need for passionate social change agents is more urgent than ever.

How can I support this program?

Donors who make gifts in increments of $500,000 can take advantage of a dollar for dollar match to name and endow from one to five Social Justice Scholars. Additionally, term gifts can be made in any amount to support both the scholarship and programming for this initiative. Contact Kristen de Paor or click here to learn more about giving to SP2.


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Alums & current scholars

Gianni Morsell, NPL’22
Prince George’s County, MD
Joelle Eliza Lingat, MSW’24, NPL’24
Jersey City, NJ
Paloma Brand, MSW’23
San Antonio, TX
Josh Arinze, MSW’23
Lagos, Nigeria
Sparsh Maheshwari, NPL’23
Uttar Pradesh, India
Penn Social Policy & Practice Social Justice Scholars Program logo

Contact Us

Adiza M. Ezell, MSW

Director of Admissions & Recruitment

SP2 Admissions


Kristen de Paor

Associate Dean

Office of Institutional Advancement