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.

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World-Class Faculty

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
Michael Shier


Micheal Shier, PhD’14

“SP2 provided a great opportunity to learn and collaborate with faculty during my PhD studies. I appreciated the research-intensive focus of the PhD program, and the skills that I learned have been influential in the work I currently undertake. The expert knowledge and skills I gained while training at SP2 have really shaped the type of researcher and social work educator I have become.”

Ready to join the PhD community?

Related News

Four graduate students stand together talking near a whiteboard

PhD in Social Welfare Program waives GRE requirement

The PhD in Social Welfare Program at SP2 no longer requires Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores as part of its application process as of Fall 2023, following discussion and a vote by the School’s faculty.

Julian Quiros

SP2 student and alumnus named 2023 Data Fluencies Dissertation Research Grantee

In support of a project aiming to advance responsible use of data and technology in the U.S. child welfare system, PhD student Julian Quiros, MSSP+DA’17, has been named a 2023 Data Fluencies Dissertation Research Grantee.

SP2 faculty stand onstage at Commencement in front of a blue background with the School's logo

New year brings new leadership appointments for SP2 faculty

Four SP2 faculty members have been appointed to new leadership roles to direct the PhD in Social Welfare Program, the Master of Science in Social Policy Program, and School-wide strategic initiatives.