Social Policy Research Fellowship

Any future calls for applications will be posted here.
See below for details on the 2012-14 application.


The West Coast Poverty Center (WCPC) at the University of Washington (UW) invites applications for the Social Policy Research (SPR) Fellowships.

Bridging the Gap between Poverty Research and Practice


The U.S. sustains high levels of poverty, economic insecurity and social and economic inequality even during periods of economic expansion. Two recessions in the last decade have only exacerbated problems of long term joblessness, low wage employment, housing insecurity and homelessness, savings and asset insufficiency, and severe social and health disparities.

There is a critical need to improve our understanding of and collective response to these problems. We need scholars who can produce the highest quality knowledge and policy professionals who can use knowledge to develop the most effective policy and program interventions. Too often, however, scholarship and practice fail to connect: knowledge produced through rigorous research is not accessible or relevant for policymakers and knowledge used in policy and program development is flawed by biased framing or the use of weak and unreliable methods.


The SPR Fellows Program will create teams of university scholars, doctoral trainees and policy practitioners who can generate and use the highest quality research to develop the most effective policy and program interventions to address issues of poverty, inequality, and asset development. The Program will leverage the resources of each of its partners to generate timely, relevant research and to increase capacity among scholars and professionals to produce and use such research in the future. Doctoral student Fellows will be recruited into the SPR Program after completing foundational training in one of the participating UW departments or professional schools. With SPR support, Fellows will complete one year of specialized, interdisciplinary coursework and a second year of applied research training under the supervision of a UW Faculty Mentor and a Policy Mentor in a public or nonprofit organization in the region. Each SPR internship will culminate in a research product that will be disseminated to both the sponsoring organization and the academic community.


The WCPC Social Policy Research Fellowship will fund University of Washington Ph.D. students up to two academic years (e.g., six quarters), beginning September 2012. Funding includes tuition and a stipend equivalent to .50 FTE at the University rate for doctoral students employed as Research Assistants.


University of Washington pre-dissertation doctoral students who have completed the core coursework requirements of their academic departments are invited to apply for the SPR Fellowship. All applicants must identify a WCPC faculty affiliate as an academic sponsor and demonstrate they are in good academic standing in their home departments.

Students with an interest and training in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies are encouraged to apply. Applicants do not need to have a specific research topic at the time of application, but the research projects they develop during the first year of the fellowship must reflect both strong theoretical grounding and clear relevance for policy.

Applicants’ research interests should reflect those of the WCPC and faculty affiliates. Potential topics may include (but are not limited to):
~ Criminal justice
~ Economic security
~ Education
~ Financial asset-building
~ Housing
~ Immigration, migration and poverty
~ Marginalized populations
~ Poverty and inequality
~ Social assistance programs


See the application announcement for the full list of application materials required. Applications include a letter of nomination from a WCPC faculty affiliate who will serve as the applicant’s Faculty Mentor, a letter of good academic standing, a CV, a one to two-page statement.

Materials must be received by Wednesday, February 22, 2012.

Email all application materials to


The SPR Fellowship will be a highly individualized program of study developed in conjunction with a student’s Faculty Mentor and the SPR Faculty Director. The typical program of study would require a Fellow to:
1. Develop a first-year learning plan, in consultation with the SPR Faculty Director. The typical Fellow will complete a minimum of three doctoral-level courses—one in each the following areas: U.S. policy formation, issues in U.S. poverty and social policy, and applied research methods in social policy. A list of courses that could satisfy these requirements is provided as Attachment A. An alternative course of study may be considered on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the SPR Faculty Director. Students who have completed one course in each of the three areas prior to the beginning of the Fellowship are encouraged to develop an alternative plan of study.
2. Participate in a three-credit “Research in Practice” seminar on the use of research evidence in policy and practice.
3. Participate in a one-credit SPR Fellowship proseminar in each quarter of their Fellowship support.
4. With the assistance of faculty advisors, identify a research plan and partnership by the conclusion of the first Fellowship year and, as needed, begin the IRB application process.
5. During the second year of support, complete a 20-hour per week research placement resulting in: 1) an academic work suitable for eventual publication (such as a dissertation proposal, essay or chapter, or original data collection) and 2) policy recommendations or analysis for the research partner.

View a description of the SPR Program here.
View the application here.

View information about past WCPC awards here.