Apply to the MS in Social Policy Program
Applicants to the MSSP program are expected to have:
- Bachelor’s degree and grade point average that reflects strong academic ability;
- A demonstrated interest in social policy, social justice, and/or social justice-oriented policy;
- For international applicants whose first language is not English, TOEFL score (Institutional Code 2926; Department Code 95) of 100 or higher or IELTS score of 7.5 or higher taken within the last two years.
MSSP+DA Admissions Requirements
The MSSP+DA admissions criteria are the same as the criteria for the standard MSSP program; however, MSSP+DA applicants are expected to have taken at least one statistical analysis course and/or done statistical analysis work prior to application. No prior coding or programming experience is necessary. The required application essay should address the applicant’s particular interest in Data Analytics.
Applications must be made directly to the MSSP+DA certificate program. No variation or extension in the MSSP+DA is possible.
MSSP-only applicants should not expect to be able to transfer into the MSSP+DA program; interested applicants should apply to the DA program directly.
Applicants to the MSSP+DA may be eligible for and accepted into the MSSP (alone) even if they are not accepted into the MSSP+DA.
The early application deadline is December 1st.
The final application deadline is January 15th.
Your admissions process begins with submitting your application online. After creating an account to start your application, you will be able to return to your application as many times as you wish before submitting. You can track the status of your application, including the receipt of letters of recommendation and any other supplemental materials, at any time by logging into your account.
You must submit a resume as part of your online application.
All applicants are required to respond to several questions for their application essay.
You must submit a writing sample that demonstrates critical analysis of a social problem and policy issue (based on a prompt provided in the application). The response should be a maximum of 800 words, not including references.
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.
ATTENTION INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS:
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, or another NACES-accredited member. 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.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of Recommendation
Each application requires three letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should be submitted directly to the online application.
Applicants are required to have two academic references and one employment or volunteer reference.
Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores.
For international students whose first language is not English, we require official TOEFL or IELTS scores taken in the last two years. A minimum of 100 on the Internet-based (iBT) TOEFL or a minimum Overall Band Score of 7.5 on the IELTS is required. TOEFL scores should be sent to Institutional Code 2926 and Department Code 95. IELTS scores cannot be reported electronically; applicants submitting IELTS scores in lieu of TOEFL scores should email official copies of their score reports to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TOEFL/IELTS requirement can be waived for applicants who completed an undergraduate or master’s degree in the United States or in a country in which English is recognized as the official language. Please note that it can take up to one week following application submission for the waiver to be indicated on your application checklist.
All students will be asked to complete a recorded video interview prior to submitting the application. You will be asked to record your answer to four questions and will have time to both practice recording and prepare for the questions prior to recording your video interview. We would advise planning to spend approximately 20 minutes distraction-free to complete the recorded video interview process.
You will need to complete the interview portion of the application in either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. You can complete the interview on any laptop or desktop with a functioning webcam and microphone.
On occasion, applicants will be asked to interview after application submission. Since your interviewer is responsible for anticipating questions from the faculty reviewer and/or the Admissions Committee who ultimately makes the final decision on your application, there are various reasons an interview may be requested.
Although there is little preparation needed for the interview, you may want to consider the following:
- Review your personal statement and writing sample (if applicable) 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.
This interview will be with a member of the academic program staff and last 25 to 40 minutes. At this time, all interviews will occur virtually via Zoom.
Upon notification of acceptance for admission to the University, you are required to submit a nonrefundable $300 to reserve your spot in the class. The deposit due date is provided with the offer of admission. The deposit will be credited to your account upon matriculation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between social policy & public administration?
Social policy graduates are engaged in global, federal, state, and local government policy arenas. Their policy, research, and substantive skills are also in demand for policy creation, implementation, and evaluation in nonprofit, philanthropic, and research organizations.
Public administration graduates tend to work predominantly in local government policy settings or in policy positions within nonprofit organizations.
What is the difference between social policy and public policy?
Social policy is a subset of public policy that focuses on solving social problems such as economic and educational inequality, racial and health disparities, and other similar problems through policy. As such, social policy initiatives and outcomes actively attend to social issues of equity, equality, and adequacy.
Public policy may or may not be as focused on social problems and social issues.
What is the difference between social policy and macro social work?
Social policy is centrally focused on social change processes through policy work in multiple levels of government or in other types of organizations as noted above. Macro social work more frequently addresses social change via an emphasis on policies, practices, and procedures within human service organizations.
What sets Penn’s MSSP program apart from other policy programs?
Penn’s one-year MSSP program is intensive, comprehensive, and practical. Penn’s MSSP graduates are in high demand in governmental and non-governmental policy settings because of these program components:
- Intensive emphasis on research and evaluation skills, quantitative and qualitative reasoning;
- Active instruction in oral and written communications skills by communications experts;
- Elective opportunities in Schools across the University of Pennsylvania;
- Opportunity to integrate global options within the School of Social Policy & Practice, across the University of Pennsylvania, and through exchanges with other universities;
- The policy internship, which provides real-world policy work experience;
- Highly individualized advising and attention; and
- Supportive and broad-based MSSP, SP2, and Penn alumni networks.
Who makes admission decisions?
Once the application is complete (including the interview), the Admissions Committee makes all admission decisions. The completed application file, i.e., transcripts, experience, letters of recommendation, application statement, resume, and writing sample, is reviewed.
Do you accept transfer students into Penn’s MSSP Program?
Generally, transfers are not allowed between programs. Each program requires a separate application and follows a distinct curriculum configuration. However, an exception can be made in consultation with the faculty director if a student has a compelling reason to transfer programs, there are seats available, and the student applies to transfer before the first academic semester starts. Transfers are exceptional and not guaranteed.
How many courses do you take each semester?
Full-time MSSP students take five courses a semester for two semesters. Full-time MSSP+DA students take four courses a semester for three semesters. Each class in SP2 meets one day a week. The Capstone Seminar takes place during the Spring Semester and Summer Session I. The MSSP Policy Internship generally takes place during Summer Session I, while the MSSP+DA Policy Internship usually takes place during Spring Session II.
What is the grading system at the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2)?
SP2 uses the system of letter grade evaluation that is used by other M.A. and PhD programs at the University. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above is required for MSSP graduation.
Does the School provide academic advising?
Yes. Each student is assigned an advisor who helps the student make the maximum use of the School and University’s resources for a rich academic experience.
How are Social Policy Internships arranged?
Information about the social policy internship component of the MSSP degree can be found on our internship webpage.
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