Deadline: April 16, 2021

Since 1997, ISP has been assisting social work faculty and students in learning about the formation, implementation, and evaluation of policy. As part of this effort, ISP recognizes the work of one social work Ph.D. student each year whose dissertation focuses on social policy research.

Who is eligible? This award is for current PhD students whose dissertation research addresses some aspect(s) of local, state, or federal policy and its impact or implications for social work practice or clientele. All doctoral coursework and all comprehensive/oral/qualifying exams must be successfully passed by the application deadline. The dissertation must be in progress and not yet completed at time of application. We especially encourage scholars who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) and/or dissertations that have an antiracist emphasis.

What should be the focus of the dissertation? The dissertation must be a research study that addresses some aspect(s) of a local, federal, or state-level policy and its impact or implications for social work practice or clientele. Any arena of practice is eligible, e.g., aging, mental health, disabilities, substance abuse, advocacy, health, etc. Examples include: (1) how a federal policy may affect state policies or programs; (2) how a state uses TANF dollars and resulting impacts, or (3) the impact of local policy making it illegal to jail people for debts accrued from fines.

What must be submitted?

♦ A separate single cover sheet with the applicant’s name, address, phone, email, and title of the dissertation.

♦ Executive summary (2 pages maximum) of an approved dissertation prospectus. (Do not include your name on these pages). Prospectus is defined as a detailed, well-developed statement of proposed research, usually 30-60 pages in length, not a brief preliminary overview of a study.

♦ Personal statement (2 pages maximum) by the applicant indicating how s/he expects the research to influence state level policy(s) and social work practice and an estimate of the potential number of persons who are affected by this policy(s). (Do not include your name on these pages).

♦ A letter from the Ph.D. student’s dissertation chairperson attesting to the student’s enrollment status, successful completion of coursework and exam(s), certifying that the prospectus is approved and the expected date for completion of the dissertation.

♦ One copy of the dissertation to ISP upon its completion.

Applications should be submitted electronically through the dissertation proposal Google Forms link here. You can also check out past contest winners.

What else do I need to know? The application materials will be scored based on relevance to social work practice; use of an appropriate methodology; clarity and organization; and potential to influence local, state, or federal policy.